NBA Finals 2011: Running Diary of Dallas Mavericks' Title-Clinching Win
What a game.
What a series.
What a finish.
Dirk Nowitzki, Jason Terry, Jason Kidd and the rest of the Dallas Mavericks can give themselves a round of applause. They were the better team. And that is why tonight, most of America will rejoice.
As Miami made its dominant run to the Finals, people started to question the NBA. What has it become? Everything we thought about teamwork and team chemistry...was it all for nothing? Don't you have to feel the pain of loss before you feel the joy of victory?
It seemed that the Miami Heat were going to shatter everything we love about our favorite basketball organization.
Until they met the Mavs.
With a miniscule point guard, an aging legend and a team full of crazies, the Dallas Mavericks defeated the Miami Heat, 4-2, in their quest for that elusive NBA championship.
LeBron, Wade and Bosh aren't going to be celebrating anymore, thanks to a wonderful display of teamwork and leadership by the championship-starved Dallas Mavericks, led by Dirk Nowitzki.
Game 6 was a roller-coaster ride.
Luckily for you, I wrote it all down. Relive the excitement. Enjoy!
(Everything written in the following slides was written live. I did not go back and change anything I wrote, or alter any of my opinions. I was literally watching and typing at the same time.)
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15 minutes prior to tipoff: Sounded like there were only 12 people in the stadium when they announced “Ladies and Gentleman, your MIAMI HEAT!” Pathetic. This might be one of the main reasons people are angry with LeBron—if you’re going to destroy your home fan base, at least go to a team that has real fans. I mean, half of these Heat games aren’t even sold out. You think that happens in New York, Chicago or LA (Clippers)? Me neither.
10 minutes prior to tipoff: The PA announcer just introduced Erik Spoelstra, and the camera cut to a man I could have sworn was in a state of catatonic shock. Outside of LeBron, has anyone on the Heat had as much of a roller-coaster season as Spoelstra (maybe Bosh)? After two weeks, Heat fans (all 14 of them) were calling for his head. Miami eventually rolled off a couple of big winning streaks, and all of the problems were solved. Not surprisingly, Heat fans have turned on Spoelstra yet again. If Miami loses this series, he immediately is back under the microscope on the hot seat.
5 minutes prior to tipoff: There has been a ton of talk in the past day or two about “coming out strong” in Game 6. Enough of that. Please. Both of these teams have proven these playoffs that they can close out a game with so much dominance that people forget the first three quarters. Obviously Dallas has had a few more come-from-behind thrillers, but the Heat have had more than their fair share of close games. This is going to be a fourth quarter game, just like all the other ones. OK, tipoff time…
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11:20 - After a couple of Chalmers misses, LeBron drains a three. When he does it in the fourth, let me know.
10:40 - Joel Anthony offensive rebound. Where has he been? He was Miami’s secret weapon through the first three series. He’s been silent in the finals so far—this is a very good sign for Miami.
10:20 - Jose Juan Barea with a herky-jerky lay-in. I have no clue how that went in. Barea is one of those guys who always looks like he’s going to land with the ball, but at the last second somehow either pops it up towards the hoop or makes a nice pass.
9:30 - LeBron and Wade back-to-back layups. If they attack the hoop, they are almost unstoppable.
8:45 - Barea is running the offense to perfection for Dallas. After his nice inside move before, this time he got the big man to commit and threw a perfect lob to Chandler for an easy dunk. He followed up the nice pass with a 20 footer—he’s feeling good tonight.
7:50 - Swish. Another LeBron basket. Three jump shots and a layup. Jeff Van Gundy took the words out of my mouth: “If you are Dallas, this is what you want from LeBron: jump shots. Don’t alter your game plan.” Timeout Dallas.
7:00 - Chris Bosh isn’t an ostrich (although he does look like one: ChrisBoshtritch.com). His jump shot is money off a nice pass by LeBron. Miami is scary efficient right now; this is what we have been waiting for. This is the Miami run that Rick Carlisle probably expected to open up an elimination game in their home building. Dallas has to just keep it close until Miami cools off.
6:00 - After an easy Wade layup and another silky smooth jump shot from the Bosh, Dallas goes to their run-stopper: Dirk Nowitzki. And, not surprisingly, he delivers. Beautiful baseline fade away over Joel Anthony.
4:45 - LeBron, for threeeeeeeee…no good. This is why you let him shoot jump shots; he is not a jump shooter. He is at his best when he drives to the hoop. That is when he can finish hard at the rim, or use his superior passing skills to find the open man. Jacking up a three here is what Dallas wants.
4:15 - With Dirk Nowitzki out of the game after a very questionable second foul call, Jason Terry has picked up the slack. Continuing his hot shooting from Game 5, Terry hits a 20-footer, then a deep three to stop the Miami run. Spoelstra decides to call timeout; Miami is now only up two.
Side note: Brian Cardinal is in the game. This makes me happy. That is all.
3:45 - Cardinal drains a corner three. My boy. I knew that was going to happen…
3:15 - Udonis Haslem, Miami’s most important player outside of the Big Three this series, throws one down. He may be the only player on Miami I don’t hate right now. Worked his way back from an awful foot injury and into game shape (playoff game shape, no less), becoming the biggest X-factor for Miami in this NBA Finals.
1:00 - LeBron bricks another three, takes a very tough charge on behemoth Tyson Chandler and then immediately turns it back over. In the meantime, Jason Terry has hit two more shots (one outside, one gorgeous up-and-under layup). Since his putrid Game 3 performance, Terry has been absolute dynamite for Dallas. His ability to hold fort when Dirk isn’t scoring is the only reason Dallas is winning this series right now.
Side note: Eddie House is in the game. I guess Miami has given up…
0:45 - Right on cue, House turns it over in the backcourt to DeShawn Stevenson. Stevenson, who has been red-hot from three in the last few games, drains a trey from the wing. All of the sudden Dallas is up eight. So much for Miami’s momentum.
0:03 - Little Eddie redeems himself with a wild-looking three-pointer to end the quarter.
Quick thoughts: Dallas has got to be thrilled to be up five. Miami started the game on absolute fire, and Dirk was in foul trouble. Rick Carlisle is probably ecstatic right now.
Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images
11:30 - Mahinmi! Great 12-foot fadeaway over the Boshtritch. Maybe he’s learned a thing or two from Dirk.
10:45 - Mahinmi! Two great offensive rebounds lead to another Stevenson three (12-for-20 from three-point land this series).
9:42 - ANOTHER Stevenson three! Three-Goggles time. Make that 13-for-21 this series. Rick Carlisle is a genius—he benched Stevenson to try and get JJ Barea involved in the offense after Game 3. You think it’s working? Dallas up 12, timeout Miami. Soon-to-be Warriors head coach Mark Jackson states matter-of-factly, “Miami is not playing championship-caliber basketball.” Sounds about right.
9:25 - Eddie House responds again! Huge three by Eddie, as Miami was really struggling to find offense. Why are LeBron and Wade not attacking the rim? Doesn’t make much sense to me.
9:00 - Wade goes to the rim and gets fouled. That’s what I’m talking about—easy points. After a Chalmers steal and layup, Miami has cut its deficit to five. Here comes another Heat run as Carlisle smartly calls timeout. Like I said before, if Dallas can weather all of Miami’s runs, the Mavs will win this ballgame. It seems right now that Dallas’ length is giving them a huge advantage in this game, but the turnovers are killing them.
8:15 - Unbelievable Miami defense out of the timeout. Miami has got to continue this defensive intensity, or they are going to be in trouble. Dallas got too many open looks in the first quarter.
7:25- Bosh nails another jumper, and Miami is on a 9-0 run. Uh-oh. Dirk misses, Haslem lay-in off a gorgeous pass from D-Wade. Uh-oh. Seven-footer Tyson Chandler is blocked by Dwyane Wade. Uh-oh. Eddie House three? Money. Uh-oh. Miami is now on a 14-0 run—so much for weathering the storm. Dallas must play better transition defense.
Not surprisingly in any way, Udonis Haslem and DeShawn Stevenson get into a brush up at half court after a Dallas timeout. Let’s hope there are no suspensions. This Finals has been too good to ruin with a dumb suspension here. It's a little ridiculous in my opinion. It is Game 6 of the NBA Finals; things are going to get chippy. Let em’ play.
Another Mark Jackson gem: “There are no Mike Tysons. Just play basketball.” I’m with you, Mr. Jackson.
(Outcome: Dirk gets a technical free throw and hits it. Let’s all pray for no suspensions if this series goes seven.)
5:25 - Beautiful pass from Chalmers to Haslem for an easy layup. Dallas must respond. And the Mavericks do with a nice move by Marion to move in for the dunk.
4:33 - After a questionable no-call on a Chris Bosh drive (looked like a Dirk foul—would have been his third), Marion gets to the free-throw line…and misses both. Ugh. Things are not looking good for Dallas right now. On the bright side, they are somehow only down by one.
3:45 - LeBron goes coast to coast for an easy layup, followed by a Terry three, a Wade lay-in and a Terry lay-in. This is making me dizzy. What a first half this has been.
2:25 - Jason Terry is carrying the Mavs right now. With Dirk Nowitzki having a rare off game (he is 1-for-9 right now), Terry grabs a miss and pulls up from downtown for another three—Dallas is now leading by two. Terry has 17 points, on 7-for-9 shooting (3-for-5 from three-point land). Now things could get messy: if Nowitzki throws up an absolute stink bomb tonight (say he ends up with a 4-for-16 performance), and Terry scores 30 and the Mavs win, who gets Finals MVP? That would be very interesting…
1:04 - Dirk is currently 1-for-11. Yes, you read that correctly. And Miami just had one of the worst possessions I have ever seen. LeBron dribbled around for 15 seconds then threw up a running air ball. Nice.
0:55 - Barea pulls an Antoine Walker and dribbles off his foot out of bounds. This isn’t ugly at all. Terry saves the end of the half from total garbage with yet another pull up jumper. He’s got 19.
0:00 - What is wrong with Dirk? Open three from the corner...BRICK. Before the time runs out in the first half, Wade grabs the rebound and shoots a shot from three-quarters court that Mike Breen gets WAY too excited about. It only sailed 10 feet over the backboard. Better luck next time Mike.
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First of all, shout out to Jason Terry for giving Eddie House some props during his halftime interview. That is just one athlete appreciating the hard work of another—something we don’t see a lot these days (ahem, Roberto Luongo).
Second of all, shout out to Jason Terry for absolutely balling out: 8-10 FG (3-5 3FG), 19 points and a plus-9 rating. He is Dallas’ savior tonight. Dirk doesn’t have bad games often, but when he does, Terry is really the only guy who has the ability to pick up the scoring slack. He has done that, and more, tonight.
If you are a Dallas fan, you have got to be pretty satisfied right now. Your superstar and MVP is having one of the worst games of his life, and you are still up two. It’s not even like Miami is playing badly, the Big Three are 11-for-20 from the field for 29 points. The truth is, if it weren’t for Eddie House, Miami would probably be down by about 10 or 15 points right now. His contributions off the bench helped squelch Dallas’ momentum after their unbelievable 17-2 run.
Interesting stat at halftime: despite leading the Heat with 11 points, LeBron James has a team worst minus-15 rating. Hmmmm…
Who has the advantage right now? It’s got to be Dallas. Their best player is playing like Brian Scalabrine, and they are up two. You have to imagine that Dirk will come alive in some capacity in the second half. Whether it is by scoring, or by drawing double teams and getting what some fans call “hockey assists” (when you pass to the guy who passes to another guy who hits the shot, think of it as a secondary assist).
The key to the second half for both teams is free throws. Plain and simple. LeBron must attack the rim; his only free throws came on a touch foul by Shawn Marion when Dallas was in the penalty. How a guy with his size and talent doesn’t get to the free-throw line 12 times a game is beyond me. Same thing with Dallas. They have to attack the hoop. They have attempted seven free throws. Seven. It’s time to see some aggressiveness from the Mavs.
Prediction: The game stays close down to the wire, but Dallas pulls it out with their veteran savvy and clutch free-throw shooting, 106-97
Chris Chambers/Getty Images
11:50 - Great sign for Dallas: Dirk swishes an 18-footer.
11:30 - Great sign for Miami: Chalmers swishes a 25-footer.
10:40 - After another Chris Bosh jump shot, JJ Barea makes a beautiful move around his man to flip it in uncontested. How does he do it?
9:25 - Amazing Dallas defense forces a rare Miami turnover that leads to an only-he-can-do-it-falling-on-his-behind jump shot by Dirk. Miami has looked very lethargic here in the third quarter, and the Mavs are taking advantage. Following a Marion putback, Miami is down seven and calls a timeout. The fans in South Beach are starting to get antsy…
8:40 - Nice play out of the timeout by Miami: pick-and-roll between Chalmers and Bosh leads to an easy Bosh layup. Kidd forces a terrible three, and Bosh just scored again. He’s quietly having a fantastic game (6-for-7, 15 points).
7:20 - Yet another gorgeous two-way play by Dwyane Wade: blocked Barea on one end and banked in a 12-footer on the other. He is really good.
Side note: Brian Cardinal is back in the game.
6:10 - Kidd makes up for the terrible shot a few possessions beforehand by splashing a deep three. He’s 38, he isn’t supposed to be able to do this. Dallas is up 4—there is no way this game doesn’t go down to the wire. What a great series. This is why I love basketball. Of course there is going to be no basketball after June 30th. I hate lockouts.
5:10 - Dirk finally hits a three. Dirk is now 4-for-18…ouch.
4:18 - After a nice steal by LeBron, Cardinal and Kidd somehow poke the ball loose on a LeBron fast break. LeBron never loses the ball there.
3:55 - Momentum shift alert! Great play by the Michelin man (Brian Cardinal), taking a charge on a Wade fast break. Technical on Wade, Dallas goes up by seven.
3:05 - In about two minutes of action in the second half, Brian Cardinal has 12 hard fouls and 17 hustle plays (all numbers approximate).
TV timeout: I can’t help but think that Dallas has all the momentum right now. They really aren’t playing that well and are still managing to remain ahead. As long as LeBron or Wade doesn’t go off in the fourth, I think Dirk will finally be taking home that ring.
TV timeout side note: Is there anything better than those Chrysler commercials with Eminem and Dr. Dre?
2:30 - Udonis Haslem has scored Miami’s last four points. The X-factor is making his presence felt.
1:50 - Jason Terry continues his dominating performance with an arching layup off the top of the backboard. He’s up to 21 points. He might have to win MVP if Dallas wins. LeBron dominates Shawn Marion for an easy two. Why can’t he do that every time? Another gorgeous play by 'Bron, who draws three defenders and makes a no-look pass to Juwan Howard, who gets hacked and goes to the line…and misses two more free throws. They have now missed 10 this game.
0:50 - Jason Kidd just hit a miraculous three-pointer. I don’t even know how that went in. Shot clock running down, he just calmly strokes another one. Dallas is 10-for-20 from deep…Dallas up 8.
0:00- IAN MAHINMI. I might like him more than Brian Cardinal. After a monstrous offensive rebound with 10 seconds left, Mahinmi hits nothing but net as the buzzer sounds on a disappointing third quarter from the home team. With Dallas up nine going into the fourth, it is going to take one hell of a run from Miami to tie up this series. They look tired and lazy, and Dallas just looks more determined. Reminds me of this great commercial by Jeremy Piven from the 2007 NBA playoffs.
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11:43 - Mahinmi has five fouls in 11 minutes. He’s pulling a Perkins.
11:15 - Momentum changer alert! With the tiny JJ Barea on him, Wade made a nice backdoor cut and finished the tough layup over Dirk, and one…and he too misses the free throw. This is getting out of control—Miami is now 16-for-28 from the line.
10:15 - Barea hits a monster three. Beautiful shake-and-bake on Eddie House and it found the bottom of the net. Gorgeous.
9:30 - Jason Terry somehow stole it from D-Wade and got fouled on the other end by Udonis Haslem. Dallas is up eight. Tick, tock, tick, tock…timeout Heat.
9:00 - Terry. Again. I think he just locked up the MVP award. It’s going to be awkward between him and Dirk for a while.
8:35 - LeBron misses yet another fourth-quarter shot, and this one wasn’t even close. He took Jason Terry off the dribble, spun left and just chucked it off the backboard. Ugly. JJ Barea responded with, surprise, a huge fourth-quarter shot. This one was one of his patented flip shots where you can’t even see him underneath the hoop and it somehow goes in. He continues to amaze me. Timeout by Spoelstra.
Miami has one more chance to come back in this game. Dallas is up 12. In the next three minutes, it is either going to be Dallas up 20 or Dallas up 5—it’s time for LeBron and Wade to dominate. Or, they can go home and cry all summer.
7:38 - Great play by Chalmers, who has been coming up big for Miami all series. He drew a blocking foul and finished the and-one by hitting the free throw.
7:25 - After beginning the game 4-for-21, Dirk does what he does best: fourth-quarter shooting. Drains an 18-footer.
6:35 - LeBron has hit two in a row. Could it be?
6:05 - Following a fantastic hustle play by Tyson Chandler on the offensive boards, Dirk hits yet another spinning, falling finger roll. Chris Bosh responds with a nice and-one. Chandler has five fouls…Dallas up seven.
5:35 - Dirk Nowitzki makes a huge mistake, and turns it over to Chalmers. On the fast break though, Jason Kidd, the veteran that he is, gets into perfect position. After making a nice play on the ball and securing the rebound, Chalmers is called for a reach-in. What a gigantic turn around there—a layup by Chalmers would have made it a five-point game. Let’s see if Dallas can capitalize…
Timeout: As I expected, things are starting to get tense for both teams. Miami fans can barely breath, and Dallas is starting to make some dumb mistakes. Both teams have got to play under-control, smart basketball.
4:35 - Tyson Chandler just grabbed a monster offensive rebound, but Dallas was unable to capitalize.
3:40 - Forget what I said before about Terry locking up the MVP. Dirk just hit another tough fourth-quarter shot. After a gorgeous Wade lay-in, Chandler keeps yet another possession alive with his terrific hustle.
2:30 - Dirk. Nowitzki. Wow. “Great players are just like death and taxes. Sooner or later they are gonna get ya" and "That thing is pretty, and the boss man knows it” are two more gems from Mark Jackson.
2:15 - House misses a three, and Dallas fans are starting to feel it. Jason Terry splashes a jumper, and LeBron responds with a wet three ball. Perfect swoosh.
1:00 - Kidd turnover. This is Miami’s last chance…Wade misses the three!
0:30 - Fitting end to the game! Dirk receives the give-and-go from Jason Kidd and seals the deal with a sweet left-handed layup. Wow. I am so happy right now. Bye bye, LeBron.
0:00 - Dirk runs off the court, fighting back tears. He has just catapulted himself into the discussion of best 15 players in NBA history. Great way to finish.
Chris Chambers/Getty Images
America, sleep easy tonight.
The villains didn't win this time, with Dirk Nowitzki leading his Dallas Mavericks to a title he has been waiting his whole career for.
You have got to feel good for guys like Dirk and Jason Kidd who have gotten so close, but haven't been able to finish. This adds meaning to their careers. They won't be mentioned with the Karl Malones and Charles Barkleys of the world.
They are NBA champions now.
Miami will come back with a vengeance next season, but for now, we can all take part in what I'm sure will be massive "Cuban-sized" celebrations in Dallas.