A Look At The NBA Finals The finals of the NBA are set: The Miami Heat will face the Dallas Mavericks to determine who will be national champion. Michele Norris speaks with sportswriter Stefan Fatsis about the match up — and how the teams made it to the finals.
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A Look At The NBA Finals

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A Look At The NBA Finals

A Look At The NBA Finals

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MICHELE NORRIS, Host:

They defeated the Chicago Bulls to advance to the finals of the National Basketball Association. Miami will meet the Dallas Mavericks starting next Tuesday. And joining us now to talk about all this is sportswriter Stefan Fatsis. Hello, Stefan.

STEFAN FATSIS: Hey, Michele.

NORRIS: Now, before we get to the finals and the bigger picture, tell us about that amazing finish last night.

FATSIS: The Bulls were up by 12 points, 77 to 65 with three minutes and 14 seconds to go. And honestly, that's when I dozed off, Michele.

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

NORRIS: Oh, I stayed up, so...

FATSIS: But then I came to, and I looked at screen, and it said Heat 81, Bulls 80. And I swear I thought I was dreaming. So I rewound it and watched again. And lo and behold, LeBron James and Dwyane Wade scored 16 points while the Bulls and their 22-year-old point guard, Derrick Rose, just, as you said, melted down.

NBA: 14 to play, the Heat had a one percent chance of winning the game.

NORRIS: Well, let's cycle back or rewind, if we can, to that fateful decision last summer when LeBron James decided to join Wade and another star free agent, Chris Bosh, in Miami for this superstar team. And it's looking like the right decision, and all that smack they talked back then sounds like they weren't just strutting, they're...

FATSIS: There was a lot of self-conscious swagger, a lot of tongue-wagging, but you can't knock, I think, no matter what you think of LeBron James, that he was utterly in command here, the best player on the court. And he did it in crunch time, which has always been a knock on James.

NORRIS: The Mavericks staged a pretty impressive comeback of their own the other night in their conference championship series against a very young team, the Oklahoma City Thunder.

FATSIS: On the Dallas side, the story has been the German-born Dirk Nowitzki. He's averaged 28.4 points per game in the playoffs, making more than half of his shots. In one game against the Thunder, he was 24 for 24 from the free-throw line, and this is a guy that plays much smaller than his seven-foot body. He's also a terrific passer and outside shooter. He's going to be a problem for Miami, which really doesn't have a defensive answer.

NORRIS: There's a lot of history between these two teams. They met once before in NBA finals, back in 2006. That was won by Miami. The Heat took it all.

FATSIS: Mark Cuban's been pretty quiet so far in these playoffs. We'll see if that changes in the final.

NORRIS: Pretty quiet, but you see him out there right in the stands. He doesn't exactly stay in the owner's box.

FATSIS: No, he's been ducking the interviews, but he is out there in the stands because that's who Mark Cuban is. This guy loves being a professional sports franchise owner, and that's made it fun for fans in Dallas.

NORRIS: Thanks, Stefan, have a great weekend.

FATSIS: Thanks, Michele.

NORRIS: That's sportswriter Stefan Fatsis. He joins us most Fridays to talk about sports and the business of sports. You can hear more of him on Slate.com's sports podcast, Hang Up and Listen.

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