To preview Thursday's rematch of the 2011 NBA Finals, we've brought in Mnelik from "Peninsula Is Mightier", SB Nation's Miami Heat blog, which I think is named for a reference to an old Celebrity Jeopardy joke.
Head over to their site for my answers to his questions about Dallas.
1) Are the Mavericks as hated in Miami as the Heat were in Dallas after the 2006 Finals?
Not in the least bit. After the 2006 finals, several Dallas fans harbored hatred because of the excessive foul calls in Miami's favor and the numerous free throws Dwyane Wade had. There were no possible excuses or conspiracies in last year's finals, as the Mavericks just clearly were the better team.
2) How concerned are you about Miami's recent slump?
Slightly. The Heat had been playing at a torrid pace all season and a crash seemed inevitable given the wear and tear of this years NBA lockout season. The Heat went through a similar rough stretch like this last year, where they lost 5 games in a row to playoff teams. They bounced back and won 15 of their remaining 18 games left in the season. Ironically the Heat have 18 games left this season but if this slump continues into next 2 weeks, then my concern will grow considerably.
3) What is this team's biggest weakness headed into the playoffs?
Rebounding. The Heat have one of the smallest starting frontcourts in the NBA. Their lack of frontcourt size and interior presence has been the forefront of their recent struggles. In addition, the Magic, Bulls, Knicks, Pacers and 76ers all have a frontcourt size advantage over the Heat.
4) Which team do you think is the biggest threat to Miami to winning a 2012 title?
Thunder, Spurs and Bulls. All 3 teams have the depth, size, defensive prowess and perimeter shooting to compete with the Heat. The asterisk next to the Bulls and Spurs however is health, with Derrick Rose, Ginobli/Parker/Duncan all questionable. The Thunder have the best chance at staying healthy but their youth and lack of experience could surface should they make it to the Finals.
Possibly. Dexter Pittman might have a better chance given his size and length but Terrel Harris could have more overall upside. Harris had an eye opening game in January against the Hawks but would have to join another team with a depleted backcourt to get an opportunity.