The recent NBA roundtable for SI.com has predicted that the Heat will win these finals by a vote of 4-1. I find this result fairly peculiar, not because the Heat can't win, but because I think the Mavs should win.
To get it out of the way, I am cheering for the Mavs. I like Disco Dirk and I despise Bosh and Lebron. But that has nothing to do with my analysis of the teams.
Breaking down the positions for each team, we see a decided advantage for the Mavs.
Chandler is better than Anthony, Haslem and Big Z. Whoever gets the start for the Heat, they will be tasked with providing defense to the paint (the center position isn't even averaging 4pts a game in these playoffs for Miami).
Disco Dirk is having a strong post season and was in the running for the MVP award this year. He is a dynamic player both inside and out. Bosh is solid, but he isn't on Dirk's level. Bosh is option #3 most often for Miami, while Dirk is THE man in Dallas. Bosh is a decent defender, but he isn't good enough to shut down Dirk. Since Bosh relies on mid range jumpers far too often, he won't put much pressure on Dirk offensively either.
Shooting Guard and Small Forward:
Let's not kid ourselves here. Wade and LBJ are obviously better than Marion and Stevenson, or any other 2 players the Mavs put at this position by a long shot.
Kidd has changed his game in the last couple years. He used to be a terrible 3 point shooter and now he's hitting them regularly. He's also stepped up his defense and often gets put on very good players in the hopes of containing them. For a player of his age to adapt like this (much like Grant Hill did). Bibby was brought in to be a crucial cog in the machine, but he hasn't done much. He isn't knocking down 3's and he still isn't the primary ball handler.
Jason Terry is a beast. The guy could probably start on half the other NBA teams and be their leading scorer. Little J.J. only has 1 speed: Overdrive. Bibby won't be able to keep up with him and Chalmers probably isn't much better. I think the Heat actually have more depth up front than the Mavs, but like the starters, those positions mean almost nothing because of the impact the Big Three has on the roster. Not to mention that the Mavs bench has been working as a unit all year long, while the Heat bench has struggled to find their identity... and you have to like the Mavs bench better (if not for Terry alone).
Spoelstra has been ridiculed and almost run out of Miami. He's given the ball to Miami and James and said "do your thing." Now that they are in the Finals, he is getting the praise for being a calming influence and keeping everyone's egos in check. He supposedly out-coached Tibs in the Chicago series. I'm not sure if I believe the hype. Rose (bless his soul) shot around the 30% mark in Chicago losses. Having your star player go 8 for 31 in a 10 pt loss just KILLS you. I'm not sold on his track record and I don't think he has the pedigree of his Dallas counterpart. This team is still run by LBJ and Wade. I have to go with the Mavs coaches on this one.
So by my very unscientific count, the Mavs have the edge in theory and on paper by a count of 5-2. So why are the Heat favorites?
Are LBJ and Wade that good? Well when the Big 3 combine to score 75 or so points of a total 90 by the Heat, I'd venture a guess that yes, they are that good. However, what happens when one of them have a bad game? What happens when they go against a zone? What happens when they go against a great interior defender like Chandler?
My heart and my brain tell me that the Mavs should win this series. My gut however, tells me to never count out LBJ and Wade. I think the biggest factor will be something that we can't actually measure.
How much anger LBJ has in him and if he can translate that into his game. Killer instincts are often chiseled from emotion. If LBJ can take all the hate and put into his game, the Mavs are in for some trouble.