NBA Finals player matchups: Fan breakdown

When one team has three players the caliber of LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, and Chris Bosh, it's somewhat depressing to look at the potential matchups if you're like me and would prefer a Heat flame out.

Released from the gripping, suffocating, and physical defense of the Chicago Bulls, which the Heat overcame more easily than I'd hoped, playing against the Mavericks might seem like a vacation. I certainly don't intend to disparage the Dallas defense which has been stifling at times. Holding Kobe Bryant's Los Angeles Lakers and the high-flying Thunder in check was a great accomplishment. But the Bulls played 48 minutes of pressure defense, and the Mavs only played it when they needed it.

Jason Kidd led the 2002 Nets to the NBA Finals

Here are my thoughts on the matchups:

Joel Anthony vs. Tyson Chandler - In my opinion, Chandler needs to have a huge series for the Mavericks to stay competitive, because he should have an edge over Anthony. Edge '" Mavericks.

Mike Bibby/Mario Chalmers vs. Jason Kidd - Ordinarily, I would opt for Kidd here, but Chalmers is a good defender, as is everyone on the Heat. Isn't Kidd exhausted yet? He is 38 years old, after all. Slight Edge: Kidd.

Dwyane Wade vs. Jason Terry - Terry doesn't start but plays starting minutes. I still don't understand this silliness. Just start him, for goodness sakes. This matchup could descend into ugliness pretty quickly for the Mavericks. The only real comparison between the 2006 versions of Miami and Dallas that met in the Finals is this matchup, and Wade was unstoppable then. Forget the regular season matchups since then. Huge Edge: Wade.

LeBron James vs. Shawn Marion - The latter has been playing splendidly and is a tough defender, but the former has two indisputable advantages—he's the best player on the planet and he's on a mission. Huge Edge: James

Chris Bosh vs. Dirk Nowitzki - Bosh is going to provide some real problems for Dirk, at both ends of the floor. Bosh is playing a high level right now, and Dirk will have to chase him around. Actually, Nowitzki will have troubles in surplus, because LeBron James has the length and athleticism to shut him down as well. And if you're hoping for James to accumulate some fouls doing so, forget it. You know how the NBA works. No foul trouble for the superstars. Slight Edge '" Nowitzki

Bench - Here's hoping J.J. Barea is un-guardable. Edge: Dallas.

I know the Mavericks seem to have more edges, but the James and Wade edges are capacious. It looks like I'm in for another long, agonizing series

I have been a New York Knick fan since the days of Howie Komives and Walt Bellamy, when I regularly boarded the IRT Subway at 180th Street in the Bronx for a trip to the Garden to see my heroes. Since the last championship in 1973, I have alternately yearned and suffered, hoped and lamented—I've waited long enough.

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Updated Tuesday, May 31, 2011