There have been upsets galore in this tournament, but even so the two teams that everyone thought would meet in the Finals are still on that collision course. The Heat reached the East Finals with their win yesterday, and the Lakers can match that feat with a win here. The Lakers threesome is beyond impressive -- Steve Nash, Kobe Bryant and Dwight Howard have all defined their positions in the NBA during their careers. Nash and Bryant may not dominate their positions like they once did after 16 years in the league, but still, this is an incredible assemblage of talent. The Lakers defeated the Warriors and the Suns to reach this stage.
Dallas will send Delonte West, Elton Brand and Dirk Nowitzki to battle the Lakers and their MVP-types. The mismatches make the situation volatile, and certainly the Lakers have no one who can stop Nowitzki, but the Mavericks will have even more trouble stopping Kobe. Brand can't really stop Howard either, but at least he can foul him. If Dallas actually cared about winning this imaginary tournament, the hacking strategy would make Mark Jackson and Gregg Popovich blush. The Mavericks defeated the Rockets in the first round and then upset the Thunder in the second round to get here.
Let's see what our panel of experts has to say.
- Tom Ziller, SB Nation NBA, Sactown Royalty -- Lakers win 15 of 20
- Andrew Sharp, SB Nation --Lakers win 14 of 20
- Steve Perrin, SB Nation NBA, Clips Nation -- Lakers win 13 of 20
- Frank Madden, Brew Hoop -- Lakers win 13 of 20
- Adam Francis, Raptors HQ -- Lakers win 17 of 20
- Probability to win any given game -- Lakers 72 percent; Dallas 28 percent
- Probability to win series - Lakers 80.87 percent; Dallas 19.13 percent
Too bad the Mavericks waived Brendan Haywood, given that he's been the only person to stop Dwight Howard in the past five years. (You know, because he forced him to have back surgery.) -- Ziller
IN DIRK WE TRUST. For six out of 20 games, at least. The Mavs would go hard here to make things competitive, and between Delonte and Dirk they've got enough firepower to steal a few games. But let's not get too crazy here: The Lakers are on a collision course with Miami in this imaginary tournament, and nobody--not even Dirk--can do a damn thing to change that. -- Sharp
Who does Kobe guard and who guards Kobe? It's got to end up being Kobe v. Dirk, right? THAT would be fun to see. -- Perrin
On talent alone you'd expect Nash, Kobe and Dwight would win even more convincingly, but with no foul-outs you'd expect the Mavs to simply employ a hack-a-Dwight strategy to keep L.A. from establishing any rhythm. And considering that offensive efficiency will presumably rise in a 3-on-3 format, the cost of having a sub-50% on your roster is even more pronounced than usual. I can't see L.A. winning it all (at least in our little 3-on-3 world) for that reason alone. -- Madden
I just don't see this one being close. None of the Mavericks can consistently contain Dwight, and while the Lakers might have a tough time with Dirk, Brand and West just doesn't pose enough of a threat to counter Kobe and Captain Canuck. -- Francis
The Bottom Line
Can anything derail the inevitable Lakers-Heat final? The experts give the Mavs a 28 percent chance to win any one game, which equates to an almost 1-in-5 chance to advance. That's not an impossible task -- we've seen the dice produce one upset almost as big in this tournament already (when Chicago was a 71 percent favorite against the East Leftovers but lost).
The Lakers need rolls of 72 or lower to win while Dallas will be looking for 73 or higher.
What do you think? Can Dallas pull off the upset?
The results will be posted at 5 p.m. ET.
For a complete look at the SB Nation 3 on 3 Tournament, check back with this StoryStream.