2011 NBA Finals: 5 Reasons Why the Mavericks Have the Edge over the Heat
The Miami Heat gave Dirk Nowitzki and the Dallas Mavericks just enough motivation to rally back from a 15-point deficit when they strutted back to their bench following a timeout with just over seven minutes remaining in Game 2 of the 2011 NBA Finals.
The previous play, a Dwyane Wade 3-pointer from the corner, put the Heat up 88-73 with 7:13 remaining.
You know the rest.
The Mavericks would own the final seven minutes of the game, outscoring the Heat 22-5 during that time to win their biggest game of the season, 95-93, stealing home-court advantage from the South Beach Trio in the process.
Now the series shifts to Dallas, where the Mavericks are 7-1 this postseason, closing out the Lakers and Thunder at home in the previous two rounds.
Join Bleacher Report as we take a look at five major reasons why the Mavericks should be heading home with the hardware when it's all said and done.
It's safe to say that Shawn Marion has found a home in Dallas.
Marion bounced around the league for a short time after being traded to the Miami Heat from the Phoenix Suns back in 2008, but has settled in well as a solid role player for the Mavericks.
Marion has been the Robin to Dirk Nowitzki's Batman in just two games against the Heat.
The player they call "The Matrix" is averaging 18 points and nine rebounds per game in the 2011 NBA Finals, including a superb Game 2 performance in which he played LeBron James to a stand still (20 points, 8 rebounds & 9-14 FGM-A).
Marion also matched James in minutes in Game 2 (40+), something that did not happen in Game 1 (James played 10 more minutes).
If Marion can continue to match LeBron, or at least hold his own at small forward against the world's best, Dallas is poised for the franchise's first title.
The Miami Heat have made four more 3-pointers than the Dallas Mavericks thus far in the 2011 NBA Finals, but the Heat have attempted 15 more.
Miami shot an excellent percentage from beyond the arc in Game 1, sinking 11 of 24 shots from downtown, proving far too much for Dallas.
Game 2 nearly saw a repeat performance from Miami until the fourth quarter.
The Heat were 7-19 from 3-point range heading into the final quarter, but went a dismal 2-11 from distance in the final 12 minutes of regulation to cough up the victory and home court advantage.
Though the entire Heat team contributed to the long-range collapse, reserve point guard Mario Chalmers stood out as one of the biggest goats, missing his first five 3-point attempts before finally tying the game at 93-93 in the final seconds.
The Mavericks have been far from spectacular from 3-point distance in these NBA Finals, but have done well valuing their possessions and not settling for 3-pointers.
The Miami Heat have been careful not to turn the ball over against the Dallas Mavericks, doing it just 24 times in two games.
The Mavericks, on the other hand, managed to squeak out a win in a game in which they turned the ball over 18 times, including five apiece from Nowitzki and Kidd.
Offensive rebounding killed Dallas' chances in Game 1, while fourth quarter execution cost Miami in Game 2.
Turnovers played a major role in both scenarios, however.
If Dallas values the ball, Miami cannot get out on the break for easy baskets, and if Miami fumbles away possessions in the game's critical moments, the Mavericks will never be out a contest.
After being thoroughly outplayed by the Miami bench in Game 1, the Dallas reserves responded in Game 2, outscoring the Heat bench 23-11.
Although Miami only played three bench players in Game 2, compared to the five utilized by Mavericks head coach Rick Carlisle, their production was horrendous.
Mike Miller was a ghost, going 0-3 from the field and picking up two personal fouls in 15 minutes of play.
Backup power forward Udonis Haslem was also ineffective, grabbing just three rebounds in nearly 30 minutes of action.
The biggest coaching mistake of Game 2 by far was Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra's move to only play the hot-handed Mike Bibby for 22 minutes, while playing the younger Mario Chalmers for 25 minutes off the bench.
Chalmers went 3-8 from the field, including 1-6 from beyond the arc.
Dallas' bench was and is led by veteran guard Jason Terry, who is averaging 14 points per game in two games against the Heat.
The X-factor for the Mavericks is back up point guard J.J. Barea, who has yet to find his rhythm in the series but is capable of wreaking havoc in pick-and-roll situations.
In a championship series that is destined to go the distance and have every game decided at the wire, the ability to close becomes an invaluable asset.
In Game 1 it was LeBron James and Dwyane Wade muscling Miami to a statement-making win, but 48 hours later it was the 7-foot Dirk Nowitzki spinning and willing the Mavericks to a legacy-defining comeback victory.
Tied at 1-1, the winner of Game 3 will likely go on to be crowned "2011 NBA champions."
Dirk Nowitzki is at a disadvantage going up against three bona fide superstars in Miami's Big Three, but will have the advantage of attempting to close Game 3 and perhaps the series at home in Big D.
Everything Nowitzki has done this postseason has been building up for this series and these games.
No player, not even LeBron James, has achieved what Nowitzki has this postseason.
Forget the 40-point games and fourth quarter comebacks: Nowitzki is erasing painful memories that were likely to define his basketball career until the last six weeks.
Nowitzki is putting to rest nightmares that have haunted a franchise for the past five years.
A two games-to-none lead that went from a potential 3-0 lead to series-deciding loss in a matter of minutes.
Unlike LeBron James, Dirk Nowitzki is doing it all by himself, and against the very demon that has haunted him since June of 2006.
Patrick Clarke is a Featured Columnist for the Phoenix Suns and a student at Towson University.
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