5 things you don’t remember from the Mavs-Heat 2011 NBA Finals
The Dallas Mavericks were hardly considered to be favorites in the Western Conference heading into the 2010-11 season. After all, the Los Angeles Lakers had just come off of consecutive NBA titles and still had all of their core intact, and the San Antonio Spurs were looming as perennial contenders.
But after securing the third seed in the West with 57 wins in the regular season, the Mavs launched one of the greatest playoff runs in NBA history.
Dallas defeated the Portland Trail Blazers in the first round before a shocking sweep of the Lakers in the conference semifinals, and then took care of the upstart Thunder to advance to the NBA Finals.
Awaiting Dallas were the newly christened “Big Three” of the Miami Heat, who had gone 12-3 heading into the Finals and were playing their best basketball of the season. However, Dirk Nowitzki and co. would not be denied, defeating Miami in six games to win the first championship in franchise history.
This series is often remembered as the low point in LeBron James’ career, but here are five things you might not remember from the 2011 NBA Finals:
5. Dwyane Wade was tremendous
While James would average under 18 points per game, Wade was nothing short of terrific throughout the series. He averaged 26.5 points, seven rebounds and just over five assists while also posting 1.5 blocks and steals per contest.
Not only was Wade the best scorer on the floor, but he was also the most efficient. He shot nearly 55 percent from the field for the series and committed 15 turnovers to LeBron’s 24 giveaways.
Additionally, Wade was the best player on both sides of the floor. For the series, he registered an offensive rating of 123 and a defensive rating of 108, both of which were the best of any Heat player that played over 100 minutes in the series.
4. LeBron actually dominated Game 1
Sure, James had tough series (by his standards). However, he completely dominated the opener, scoring 24 points along with nine boards and five assists. LeBron made four of his five attempts from beyond the arc while posting a net rating of +46 for the game.
Unfortunately, LeBron’s age an mileage have made it rather commonplace for his to miss games due to “load management” in the past few seasons. But we forget that peak LeBron was a machine, and he played 45 of 48 minutes in Game 1, which (at the time) seemed to set the tone for the rest of the series.
3. The Heat should have won Game 2
Miami should have taken a 2-0 series lead back to Dallas. The Heat started the fourth quarter on a 13-2 run and led the Mavs 88-73 with just over seven minutes remaining in the game.
But the Mavs fought back. Powered by Jason Terry and Dirk Nowitzki–who combined for 15 points in the finals even minutes–the Mavericks ended the game on a 20-5 run on their own, capped by Nowitzki’s driving layup that gave Dallas the lead with just three seconds remaining.
If the Heat had won, they would have taken a commanding 2-0 lead and likely would have established a stranglehold on the series.
2. Dirk’s “Flu Game”
Michael Jordan’s “Flu Game” is legendary, but Dirk’s was just as meaningful for Dallas.
Despite losing their grip on Game 2, Miami bounced back to win Game 3 and regain the series lead. Prior to Game 4, it was revealed that Nowitzki was experiencing flu-like symptoms. This was followed by a video of James and Wade mocking the reports by faking coughs in the tunnel heading into the arena before the game.
Dirk responded with a valiant effort, going for a double-double with 21 points and 11 rebounds and playing nearly 40 minutes as the Mavericks tied the series.
1. Jason Terry keeps the Mavs on top in Game 6
“The Jet” was terrific throughout the Finals, averaging 18 points per game off the bench while shooting nearly 50 percent from the field and 40 percent from deep.
But Game 6 was his crowning achievement. Terry scored 27 points, including 19 in the first half to almost single-handedly keep Dallas in front.
Terry’s heroics during the series were on full display, and he torched James over the course of the Finals.
But helping Dallas put the series to bed in Game 6 was undoubtedly the finest moment of his career.