SPORTS / DEPORTES: Dallas MAVS are the 2011 NBA Champions!

A Texas size CONGRATULATIONS to the Dallas Mavericks for defeating the Miami Heat & for being the 2011 NBA Champions!🙂

2011 NBA CHAMPIONS: Dallas Mavericks

The Dallas Mavericks celebrate with the trophy after winning game six of the NBA Finals between the Miami Heat and the Dallas Mavericks at the American Airlines Arena in Miami, Florida, June 12, 2011. The Mavericks won 105-95 to take the title

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Enjoy the day & I hope you’re having a good summer!

SPORTS / DEPORTES: Dallas Mavs take a 3-2 lead over Miami Heat in the NBA Finals – who will win Game 6?

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DALLAS – In the aftermath of their loss to the Miami Heat in the 2006 NBA Finals, the Dallas Mavericks couldn’t stop making excuses. The Heat hadn’t so much won the title, Dallas decided, as it had been given to them, courtesy of poor officiating or the Mavs fumbling away the critical third game.

Eventually the whining so annoyed Dwyane Wade(notes), the MVP of that series, that he went right back at Dallas, right back at Dirk Nowitzki’s(notes) version of events, and blasted it all.

“Dirk says they gave us the championship last year, but he’s the reason they lost,” Wade told Miami reporters in 2007. It’s “because he wasn’t the leader that he’s supposed to be in the closing moments.

“At the end of the day, you’re remembered for what you did at the end.”

Nowitzki has said nothing during this series about those words, about that charge against him half a decade ago.

Whatever his failure then has been corrected. Dallas has taken control of these Finals, taken mighty Miami and its all-star crew to the brink, taken the veneer of inevitability and invincibility right off LeBron James(notes) and Co. because Nowitzki has turned into a leader for the ages.

Dallas beat Miami 112-103 here Thursday and the Mavericks are now up 3-2 heading into Sunday’s Game 6 back in Florida. And it wasn’t just Nowitzki’s game-high 29 points that made it so.

It was how he’s helped build up a supporting crew of castoffs and role players, how he’s demanded excellence from starters and subs alike, how he’s found the perfect balance of knowing when to take command of a game and when to defer to a better option.

The Heat are a collection of talent still searching for their roles, still seeking consistency and accountability and urgency. It’s LeBron trying to sunshine another loss with “we played good enough to win.” Dallas has turned into this machine that keeps coming and coming and coming, undeterred by talent, unwilling to compromise.

“Persistence is our game,” Mavs coach Rick Carlisle said.

When six straight points gave the Heat a 96-95 lead with just 5:16 remaining, when America Airlines Center had gone from deafening to doubting, when it all seemed to be slipping away, there was the 7-foot German in the huddle during a timeout, pleading for exactly that persistence.

“Just stick with it,” he shouted. “Just stick with it.”

This was the series on the line. The Mavs had hit a million shots and were losing anyway. They were in the process of holding LeBron to another quiet fourth quarter (just two points) and were about to blow it still. So after Nowitzki was done talking – and after Wade had increased Miami’s lead with a 3-pointer – Nowitzki demanded the ball, got to the lane, got fouled and, of course, knocked down his free throws.

“Kind of settle everyone down,” he said. “I thought it was big of us not to shoot a bad jumper and they go down in transition again.”

He then stepped back and let his guys rise up. It was Jason Terry(notes), who Nowitzki had called out earlier in this series, draining two back-breaking 3-pointers. It was Shawn Marion(notes), previously benched in crunch time, producing a key steal. It was blue-collar Tyson Chandler(notes) delivering a huge block. It was Jason Kidd(notes) burying a 24-footer.

After his free throws, Nowitzki would never need to score again. Dallas would deliver a 17-4 knockout run, and the most clutch performer in these playoffs – hero of big shot after big shot – didn’t need to do all the scoring.

Nowitzki has the Mavericks exactly where he wants them – believing so fully in themselves that they’ve found a way to close out games that all of Miami’s heavy hitters can’t.

And yes, it’s his team. It’s unequivocally his Mavericks. There isn’t a debate here; no star-by-committee system. He’s taken a hold of this group the way he grabs the news conference microphone. Owner Mark Cuban has stopped talking to the media, seemingly lifting a mountain of pressure off his troops. Carlisle is comfortable deflecting praise onto the players and spends half his time crediting Dirk effusively.

After the game, Terry talked about one of his late, contested threes, and acknowledged he was so confident he probably would’ve taken it even if the shot clock wasn’t running down.

“Dirk don’t want to hear that,” Terry said.

Not Carlisle, the coach. Dirk, the leader.

This has been an impossibly tight series, every game coming down to the final minute, if not the final shot. Across the way the Heat are still fumbling with how to finish, wondering who should take the shot, who should step up on defense. They stand around and look at each other. Some won’t shoot. Some shoot too much. Some won’t defend. Some chase themselves out of position.

Until these Finals, the Heat were able to overwhelm opponents in the final minutes. They just swallowed up the Philadelphia 76ers, Boston Celtics and Chicago Bulls. Now they’ve met an opponent with even more will, with an even greater killer instinct.

It was supposed to be the Heat that could count on a committee at the end. It was supposed to be this purposefully assembled triumvirate that would cause the defensive chaos. Would Wade take the final shot? Would LeBron? Would they drop down to Chris Bosh(notes)? Was there any way to cover them all?

Instead it was Miami coach Erik Spoelstra who looked out of ideas, looked resigned to the fact that Dallas just won’t stop coming for the crown.

“It is not easy against this team,” he said.

When everyone thought it would be Nowitzki who would try to win it, he flipped the script and here came Terry, Marion and Kidd. Here, earlier in the game, came J.J. Berea, this 5-foot-9 blur seemingly out of a pick-up game at the Y, torturing the Heat with 17 gut-punch points.

“Nowitzki requires at least the attention of 1½ and often two guys,” Spoelstra said. “…A lot of actions involve Nowitzki.”

It all comes through Dirk now, here in this tightest of Finals, here in this endless parade of pressurized moments. Torn tendon. High fever. Double teams. Nothing is stopping him. Nothing is keeping him from doing exactly what Dwyane Wade roasted him about five years ago.

“At the end of the day,” Wade said back then, “you’re remembered for what you did at the end.”

It’s 3-2 Dallas now. It’s one game from everything for these Mavericks. It’s one win from answering that long-ago criticism for Dirk Nowitzki.

SPORTS / DEPORTES: NBA Finals Game 1 Mavericks 84 Heat 92

2011 NBA FINALS: Dallas Mavs vs. Miami Heat

No explanation necessary. The Miami Heat are three wins from the reason why the Big Three came together in the first place.

James scored 24 points for his first win in five NBA Finals games, Wade scored 15 of his 22 points in the second half and the Heat beat the Dallas Mavericks 92-84 in Game 1 of the title series on Tuesday night — holding the Western Conference champions to their lowest point total of the playoffs after a dominant defensive showing down the stretch.

“Feels good because it’s the first game and we played well as a team,” James said. “We’ve got a lot of work to do. … That’s one in the books. We’re excited about this game. Tomorrow we prepare for Game 2, and I see ways we can get better.”

Dirk Nowitzki scored 27 points — tearing a tendon in the middle finger on his left, non-shooting, hand during the game and revealing afterward that he’ll likely wear a splint throughout the remainder of the series — and grabbed eight rebounds for Dallas, which got 16 points and 10 rebounds from Shawn Marion and 12 points from Jason Terry, most of those coming in an early flurry. It was Dallas’ fifth straight loss to Miami in Finals games, dating to the Heat rally for the 2006 crown.

Dallas held the Heat to 39 percent shooting, Miami’s second-worst showing of the playoffs.

Problem was, the Mavericks shot 37 percent — by far, their worst night of the postseason offensively.
“You hold a team to 38 percent shooting and 92 points, for us, that’s usually a victory,” Marion said.

Sure enough, Dallas had been 7-2 when holding teams to those kind of numbers this season. Game 2 is Thursday in Miami.

“We’re a veteran team,” said Nowitzki, who had a postgame X-ray on the finger that was injured when he was stripping the ball from Bosh. “You can’t get down with a loss. You’ve got to come back strong on Thursday. I’ve said it a couple times in this playoff run, if you’re the road team, you’re happy with a split. So we’ve got another opportunity on Thursday to get one. Obviously, we don’t want to go home down 0-2.”

Wade’s 3-pointer with 3:06 left put the Heat up 82-73, then the largest lead of the game for either team. The Mavs shaved two points off it on the next possession when Nowitzki hit two free throws, but James gave the Heat their first double-digit lead of the Finals a few seconds later.

He dribbled upcourt against Marion, crossed his dribble over and got clear for a dunk while being fouled. The free throw made it 85-75, and most in the sellout, white-clad crowd began standing in anticipation.

Even then, it wasn’t over.

Nowitzki made two more free throws — he was 12 for 12 from the line for the game — with 1:36 left, cutting the Miami lead to six.

A momentary blip.

“They have two very good closers,” Nowitzki said, “two of the best in the game.”

Wade grabbed a key defensive rebound, dribbled away from three Dallas pursuers and found Bosh for a dunk with 1:08 left that restored the 10-point lead. Another dunk by James came with 38.6 seconds left, sealing the outcome.

“For me, going into the fourth quarter, it’s winning time,” James said.

Sure was, and the Heat fans knew it, breaking into their now-traditional tossing of their white seat covers.

“By and large, we’ve got to play better, just overall,” said Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle, especially noting Miami’s 16-6 edge in offensive rebounds.

Miami outrebounded Dallas 46-36, got a gritty effort on both ends from reserve Mike Miller — who left with his left arm in a sling, but insisted he would be fine — and reaped rewards again from another strong fourth-quarter finish by Wade and James.

“That’s who they’ve been their entire careers,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said.

Bosh scored 19 points and Mario Chalmers added 12 for the Heat. The Heat trailed by eight points early in the third quarter before pulling away, remaining unbeaten — now 9-0 — at home in these playoffs and snapping Dallas’ five-game road postseason winning streak.

Dallas had 51 points after 26 minutes. The Mavericks scored 18 points in the next 18 minutes and 33 over the remainder of the game, as Miami’s defense found another gear.

“That’s kind of the way we’ve been winning games, of late,” Wade said. “You’ve got stay with it. You can’t get frustrated because the ball’s not going in. There’s other ways you can dominate the game and we was able to do that tonight. I thought we did a great job in the second half of rebounding the ball, limiting them to one shot as much as possible.”

Take away the 2006 NBA Finals, and Dallas came into Game 1 having beaten Miami 14 straight times. The only team that has lost to any team more times consecutively is Minnesota, which finished with the NBA’s worst record this season. The Timberwolves have lost 16 straight to San Antonio and Portland, and 15 straight to the Los Angeles Lakers.

In the Finals, it simply doesn’t seem to matter.
“We’ll play better. I’m very certain of that,” Carlisle said. “We had some opportunities. Shots we normally make, they didn’t go down. Look, it’s a long series. We’ll adjust.”

Wade — the hero of that 2006 championship — found himself with a couple extra minutes before tipoff because of an unusually long delay after the starters were introduced. So he went looking for inspiration. He screamed at his teammates, “Don’t say, ‘I wish I woulda,’ ” in the huddle before they took the court, his way of telling them not to leave anything in the proverbial tank during this series.

And then he slowly trotted to the other end of the court, pointed to his mother Jolinda in a baseline seat and gave her a hug as many in the crowd roared. He usually blows her a pregame kiss. On Tuesday, that wouldn’t suffice.

“We both said, ‘Here we go. We’re here again. We’re back,’ ” Wade said.

Both teams expect to ride defense in this series, and that was made perfectly evident in the opening 12 minutes. The teams combined to take 35 shots in the first quarter — and made 10.

Dallas led 17-16 after the first quarter, which was the lowest two-team output in the first quarter of Game 1 of a Finals in the shot clock era, according to STATS LLC. It tied the fourth-lowest total for any Finals quarter since 1955, bettering only the 30 points by the Magic and Lakers in Game 2 in 2009, and the 31 posted by the Jazz and Bulls in 1998’s Game 3 along with the Lakers and Celtics in 1969’s Game 4.

Everyone was struggling, maybe a little because of nerves, and mostly to do with the defensive intensity on both ends. James was 3 for 6 in the first quarter, while the rest of the Heat were 3 for 15. Half of Dallas’ four first-quarter baskets were 3-pointers by Jason Kidd, the team’s 38-year-old point guard searching for his first NBA title.

And the Mavericks had one — that’s right, one — 2-point basket in the game’s first 15:49, with 10 of their first 18 field goal attempts coming from 3-point range.

“We really didn’t play well at all tonight,” Terry said. “First quarter, 17 points and third quarter, 17 — that’s not our style of basketball. Give them credit. They disrupted our tempo and they finished at the end.”

Dallas opened the third quarter by scoring seven quick points, all on jumpers, the burst ending with DeShawn Stevenson’s 3-pointer with 10:03 remaining in the period — pushing the Mavericks’ lead to 51-43 and silencing a building that was still refilling after halftime.

“He had three days to shoot that and we didn’t get anybody near him,” Spoelstra said.

That was quickly fixed, and the rest of the third was largely all Miami.

“For the most part, we think we had chances to get a hold of this game,” Marion said. “And we let it get out of our hands.”

The Heat outscored Dallas 22-10 in the remainder of the quarter. Wade started the rally — just as he did in a series-saving effort for Miami in Game 3 of the ’06 Finals, giving the memorable “Nah, I ain’t going out like this” quote afterward — with two layups. And James beat the clock at the end of the period with an off-balance 3-pointer from near the Dallas bench for a 65-61 Miami lead.

“It’s one game, and that’s it,” Spoelstra said. “We’re already moving on.”
(via the AP)