Before entering an unknown future, threatened with a lockout, the Dallas Mavericks made a lot of “neutral fans” happy by beating the Miami Heat and mostly, LeBron James. Dirk Nowitzki and Jason Terry led the Mavs to a 105-95 win in Game 6 and the Dallas Mavericks to their first ever NBA Finals, avenging the loss in 2006.
Starting Out Hot
LeBron James, in another ‘most important’ game of his life, start hot, opening with a three and going 4-4 in the first four minutes. He cooled off pretty quickly. Exhaustion? Media and criticism getting into his head? Whatever it was, LeBron wasn’t the same player during the NBA Finals. The low energy levels, the slipping confidence. Losing the 2-1 lead in the series will be a hard blow to recover from.
Terry Takes Over
While Nowitzki threw bad shot after bad shot, Jason Terry played and made shots with ease and calm, looking like he was in shooting practice, not the NBA Finals. Terry played 34 minutes off the bench, scoring a game high 27 points. He averaged 18 points in the NBA Finals, pretty much improving in every single game. Nowitzki? He was 1 for a million at half time. HE finished with 21 points, scoring 18 in the second half, 10 in the final quarter. Like a true champion, and a very deserving Finals MVP.
Wade finished with 17 points, 8 rebounds and six assists. He also had another huge block on Tyson Chandler, and he turned the ball over 5 times, including two big ones in the fourth quarter when the game was finally slipping away from Miami. He seemed to follow in the footsteps of LeBron James at some point – the weight of the game, of the world, too much for his shoulders. Even he gave up. “Summer is coming” a Bizarro version of the Stark family would say.
The Wait is Over
With all the talk about LeBron James and Dirk Nowitzki, we forgot a little bit about Jason Kidd. The 38 year old point guard made his third trip to the NBA Finals, very different in the role he’s in now than 8-9 years ago with the Nets. He woke up in the last two games with big shots and a much improved passing game. Letting Terry or Barea run the floor while Kidd played more as second guard was one of Carlisle’s better moves in the series.
The Chandler-Marion Factor
You need tough guys, hustle guys, defensive guys to win the title. Chandler and Marion were just that. Marion played LeBron James fantastically, being a big factor in frustration James and keeping his contribution in the series to a disappointing level. Chandler? The rebounding, the offensive boards, being the only Mavs player actually able to challenge shots in the paint. These two never topped the scoring charts, but their defense and heart won the championship for Dallas.