Marquette vs. Wisconsin in the NBA Finals

So it’s early June. The Brewers are languishing around the .500 mark. Yet another steroid scandal has hit Major League Baseball. The Stanley Cup playoffs are on, but you don’t get the Outdoor Life Network. And unless you’re hooked on Gameshow Marathon, there isn’t much on TV to watch or TiVo.

What do you do? Well, you might want to think about watching the NBA Finals, which start Thursday night. Not only is the matchup one of the most intriguing in years – neither the Miami Heat nor the Dallas Mavericks have ever been to the NBA Finals, so no one can complain about being sick of the Pistons, Lakers, or Spurs, but there is a distinct local angle for Wisconsin sports fans.

In his third season with the Miami Heat, former Marquette guard has emerged as one of the league’s most exciting players to watch. He even took a crack at Michael Jordan territory in Friday night’s deciding Game 6 of the East Finals against the Pistons when he played masterfully despite being stricken with the flu. Unfortunately for the Heat, Wade is still fighting the flu bug and Miami is going to need him if they hope to win the Finals. Fortunately for the Heat, if last Friday’s game is any indication, it will take a lot more than the flu to keep Wade from making major contributions to his team.

In his second season with the Mavericks, former Badger standout Devin Harris isn’t the breakout star that Wade is. But he doesn’t get the playing time that Wade gets, since owner Mark Cuban and head coach Avery Johnson have arguably the deepest team in the league, with Dirk Nowitzki as their undisputed leader. But when called upon, Harris has been delivering and he may be the biggest X-factor in these Finals.

Which team you root for may have a lot to do with whether you’re partial to Marquette or Wisconsin. Being an alum, I usually side with the Badgers, but here I’ll be pulling for Wade. He’s much more crucial to his team’s success than Harris is – Dallas could win without Harris, but Miami can’t without a healthy and hot Wade.

My pick? Miami in 6. Wade is outstanding, coach Pat Riley towers over Mavs coach Johnson as far as Finals experience, and last I checked, Miami had a player by the name of Shaquille O’Neal, who also knows a thing or two about winning championships. O’Neal wants to prove he can win without Kobe, and he will. But should be a great series. And you don’t need to find Outdoor Life Network on your channel lineup to watch it.

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