When the Dallas Mavericks entered the 2010-11 season, they knew that their time was running out. All-Star Dirk Nowitzki was 33, and he would soon be out of his prime. Veteran point guard Jason Kidd was 38, one of the oldest players in the NBA. However, they weren’t getting much hype. It seemed just like another season.
Then, you think about the team that they would later play in the NBA Finals, the Miami Heat. Now, that’s hype if you’ve ever seen it. Press conferences, meetings, interviews, “decisions” (yes Lebron, I’m talking about you). Every sort of media involved was happening to the Miami Heat. I even wrote a blog about the Heat in the beginning of the year.
The Dallas Mavericks had a steady season. They had smooth sailing through the regular season, but slowed down slightly in the playoffs. They won a close six-game series against the Portland Trailblazers, then swept the Lakers, a team expected to possibly win the championship. Then, they dismantled the Oklahoma City Thunder 4-1 to win the Western Conference championship, and more importantly earn a shot at the NBA Finals.
The Miami Heat had a different story. They had a slow start, going 9-8 in their first 17 games. Then, they came together as a team and slowly but surely picked their way game by game to the playoffs. They faced rough spots along the way, but they made it. They did surprisingly well, and won every series 4-1 (until the Finals). First, they took down the Philadelphia 76ers, then the Boston Celtics, and finally the Chicago Bulls. That final game against the Bulls, which the Heat won 83-80, gave the Big Three hope for an NBA Championship.
When the two teams clashed in the Finals, Miami got lots of attention. Maybe the Big Three had worked out after all. But then, they fell 4-2 in an epic showdown.
Here’s why the Mavericks won:
Reason # 1: Poor defense by Miami
In the Finals, countless times you’d see Jason Terry allowed to drive right and then pull up for a close range jumper. In a Finals game, that simply can’t happen. Also, Miami needs to keep an eye on the player they’re guarding. It seemed that every minute, Tyson Chandler was getting a perfect feed right under the hoop. That’s like giving Dallas points. Also, they had to watch the Mavericks from behind the arc. The Mavs were many times left open by the three point line, and then swoosh! was the only thing you’d hear after that.
Reason #2: Late game comebacks
Whenever it looked like the Heat were going to pull it out, the Mavericks would hit that key shot that sent the momentum swinging back in their direction. Just one of those magnificent comebacks was in Game 2. Miami was up by 15, and it looked like the Heat were about to take it.
Not a chance.
Dallas quickly surged back, and capped off a 22-5 run to pull the game to the Mavericks side. For Miami, that’s just unacceptable.
Reason #3: Dirk Nowitzki
There’s not much you can say. He was just an outstanding player. Whether hitting the last minute three, nailing the fadeaway, or grabbing the rebound, he was amazing.
So LeBron, what’s the new decision?