Basketball picksMay 31, 2011

2011 NBA Finals Predictions

After the Heat defeated the top-seeded Bulls last Thursday to claim the East, a rematch of the 2006 Finals was set: Dallas vs. Miami. In that memorable series, the Mavericks had a commanding 2-0 lead and 13-point lead late in the fourth quarter of game 3. Yet, they choked away both leads and lost the series, giving Dwayne Wade his first title. What will happen this time around?

Dallas is a damn good team: If you remove the games in which either Dirk Nowitski or Tyson Chandler were out, Dallas owns a 64-16 record (54-23-3 ATS)! So with those two in the lineup, based on record, there is no better team in the NBA. And, they are 12-3 SU and ATS in the playoffs. There has been tremendous value on Dallas early on in the playffs because people view this as the “old” under-performing Dallas Mavericks. The public remembered this as the 2006 “choke” team. This was the team with a super star that people just couldn’t respect (7 foot white guy that doesn’t bang down low). So there was great line value on Dallas early on. This is one reason I recommended taking the Mavs to win their series against the Lakers here.

The key word above, however, is “was.”  The perceptions have changed. Dirk is getting his due and the line value has probably gone. They are 2-2 ATS in their last four games and nearly two thirds of the public is on them in game 1.

Defense wins Championships

We hear this a lot and it’s trite. However, it really does apply to the NBA Finals. If you are a fan of offense, consider this:

  • The worse offensive team usually covers the spread (55% of the time over the past seven years).
  • That increases to 59%  if 1+ point worse and 64% if their offense is 2+ points worse.

But in this game, the teams are very close (Dallas 100.2 ppg vs. Miami 100.6), so there’s not much to go on there.

Miami is the better defensive team in this matchup:

  • The Heat have allowed 93.6 points per game vs. 95.5 for the Mavs.
  • In the playoffs, Dallas has allowed 92.5 ppg (vs. 96 in the regular season) and Miami is allowing just 88.3 (vs. 94.6 in reg season).
  • Over the last five games, Dallas  has given up 101.2 while  Miami has allowed just 87.2. That’s a massive 14 point difference.

In the Finals, defense wins. If you just blindly bet the team with the better defense in all Finals games the last seven years, you would have hit 66%.

LeBron is finally motivated and he’s playing nearly as well as Dirk. Miami has home court which is a huge obstacle to overcome for Dallas. So, while anything can happen, it appears that the Heatles are going to get their first title in their first year together.