The Dallas Mavericks had a score to settle since 2006, when they reached the NBA Finals, won the first two games, had a lead in game 3 but Dwyane Wade decided he didn’t want to lose that title and turned the series upside down. They reached the final defeating the Portland Trail Blazers 4-2 in the first round, the Los Angeles Lakers 4-0 in the Conference semifinals and the Oklahoma City Thunder 4-1 in the Conference Finals. Their real value wasn’t clear because in these playoffs the Lakers have been the shadow of the team that won the title in 2009 and 2010 and the Thunder are still a young team.
The Miami Heat had a season with big ups and downs but in spring they found some consistency, in fact in the playoffs they gave their best against the Conference opponents considered the toughest. They reached the finals defeating the Philadelphia 76ers 4-1 in the first round, the Boston Celtics 4-1 in the Conference semifinals and the Chicago Bulls 4-1 in the Conference Finals.
The first two games were played in Miami, the next three in Dallas and the last game again in Miami.
In game 1 the Dallas Mavericks were ahead in the third quarter but in the second half Dwyane Wade scored several important points to help LeBron James and Chris Bosh to turn the match upside down to win it 92-84 taking a 1-0 lead in the series.
In game 2 the Miami Heat seemed to have taken a decisive lead in the fourth quarter thanks to a run that had brought them ahead by 15 points with just over seven minutes left but the Dallas Mavericks came back and in the last minute Dirk Nowitzki scored the decisive field goal to win the game 95-93 and tie the series 1-1.
The series moved to Dallas. In Game 3 the Miami Heat took a 10 points lead in the first half but in the second half the Dallas Mavericks came back. The last minutes were close and the game was decided by Chris Bosh field goal for a final score of 88-86 and a new lead in the series for the Miami Heat on 2-1.
Game 4 was close for most of its duration. In the fourth quarter the Miami Heat took a lead that reached 7 points but the Dallas Mavericks came back again. Near the end Dirk Nowitzki and Jason Terry scored the decisive points to win the game 86-83 and tie the series 2-2.
In game 5 shooting percentages were higher than in previous games. Dwyane Wade’s hip got injured but he returned to play the end. With a little more than four minutes left the Miami Heat took a 4 points lead but then they no longer scored a field goal until the last minute. This time to help Dirk Nowitzki score the decisive points there were Jason Kidd and Jason Terry to win the game 112-103 and take the lead for the first time in the series on 3-2.
The series got back in Miami for game 6 but the Dallas Mavericks haven’t lost their offence. Jason Terry said that the Miami Heat couldn’t defend on him for seven games and he actually scored 27 points. Dirk Nowitzki scored 21 points with 11 rebounds. In the first quarter the Heat took a 9 points lead but the Mavericks came back and in the second quarter they took a 12 points lead. The home team came back but the Mavericks took another lead that reached 12 points in the fourth quarter. It was the decisive advantage and Dallas won the game 105-95 to win their first NBA title by winning the series 4-2. Dirk Nowitzki (photo ©Keith Allison) was elected MVP of the Finals.
I confess that after watching the Dallas Mavericks lose the Finals in 2006 and the first round in the 2007 playoffs against the Golden State Warriors I no longer believed that they could win the NBA title. Instead in this season they have shown maturity and consistency and in the finals they showed in most games that they were better in clutch time.
This title obviously belongs to Dirk Nowitzki but also to Jason Terry and Jason Kidd. There was of course the help of other teammates and for example J.J. Barea has played at an unthinkable level but the players under the greatest pressure stepped up to the task.
The Miami Heat’s defeat is inevitably considered especially LeBron James’ defeat, also because his tendency to score very little during the last quarter in the final series was noted. In game 6 he did something more, also because Dwyane Wade was still limited by the hip injury suffered in game 5, but it wasn’t enough. LeBron James is still a king without a crown: it’s too easy to label him as a loser after yet another defeat but the lost opportunities for him are becoming too many.
It’s however true that the Miami Heat found a team chemistry that brought them to the NBA Finals and the next season they’ll want to get even but the pressure on them will be even greater.
Of course we need to see if the next season will be even played because there’s the risk of a lock out. It’s impossible to say now if the owners and players will sign a new collective agreement, for the moment in Dallas they’re celebrating the NBA title.