The participants aren't officially set but with the Miami Heat and Dallas Mavericks both up 3-1 in their conference finals series it seems these two teams are destined to meet in the 2011 NBA Finals. In a league dominated by stars, there's no debating that LeBron James and Dirk Nowitzki have been the best of the best. While the young guys -- Derrick Rose and Kevin Durant -- have done well, there's no accounting for the experience that James and Nowitzki bring to a playoff game.
The Heat and Mavericks, of course, meet before in 2006 in one of the more controversial NBA Finals in recent memory. The Mavericks won the first two games of the series in Dallas and then Miami tied things up at home heading into a decisive Game 5. In a game that Mavericks fans still complain about, Dwyane Wade took 25 free throws and the Heat overall had 49 attempts from the line while Dallas only had 25 as a team.
With the Heat up 3-2, Wade with the help of a still valuable Shaquille O`Neal, beat Dallas and won the ring. The officiating in the series was so questionable that even Phil Jackson suggested a conspiracy of retaliation against Mavericks owners Mark Cuban.
"In that Miami series, [Cuban] definitely had it coming that time," Jackson told reporters before the Mavericks-Lakers game on March 12, 2011. "But I think he's toned it down in the last few years. I think that Miami Finals really was a tough one to swallow. I think [Dwyane] Wade averaged about 25 foul shots a game after the second game and you couldn't even touch him. That was really tough for him to swallow and I think he understood that there's sort of a pecking order in this league and you need to keep your mouth shut at times."
With Dirk Nowitzki and Dwyane Wade still playing for their respective teams, it would be an interesting series with lots of story lines assuming that the Heat and Mavericks take care of business and finish the Bulls and Thunder. The Heat would have home court advantage should they meet Dallas in the finals.
The 2011 NBA Finals will be broadcast on ABC. The schedule calls for Game 1 on Thursday, June 2 but the NBA has left an allowance for to start on Tuesday, May 31. If both the Mavericks and Heat end their series on Wednesday and Thursday, that could happen. If either series is extended it is more likely that the 2011 NBA Finals will start on June 2.
The schedule for the NBA Finals 2011 is as follows:
Game 1 June 2, 2011 (Thursday), Possible move-up to May 31, 2011 (Tuesday)
Game 2 June 5, 2011 (Sunday)
Game 3 June 7, 2011 (Tuesday)
Game 4 June 9, 2011 (Thursday)
Game 5 * June 12, 2011 (Sunday)
Game 6 * June 14, 2011 (Tuesday)
Game 7 * June 16, 2011 (Thursday)