Welcome to the Greatest Moment series at Last Word On Pro Basketball, where we’ll present to you each NBA team’s greatest moment of the 21st century. From draft lottery luck, to a franchise-changing trade, to the sweet taste of a championship, every NBA team has had its own special moment to look back on.
In this installment, we will be taking a look at the greatest Dallas Mavericks moment of the 21st century: Winning the 2011 NBA Finals.
Greatest Dallas Mavericks Moment of the 21st Century: Winning the 2011 NBA Finals
The 2011 NBA Finals pitted the first-year edition of LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, and Chris Bosh playing together on the Miami Heat against the Dallas Mavericks. All three stars started the series off strong, as the Heat won Game 1 and got close to taking a commanding 2-0 series lead. Down 15 points with 6:20 remaining in the game, Dallas looked to be on the losing side once again.
However, Dirk Nowitzki had something to say about that. He led his Mavericks to a 22-5 run that earned them a much-needed road victory, shocking the Heat. Nowitzki had two clutch assists, one apiece to Jason Terry and Jason Kidd which led to five points during that fourth-quarter stretch. He also chipped in nine of his own, including the go-ahead bucket with 3.6 seconds left. Nowitzki put the team on his back, yet the series was still tied 1-1 heading back to Dallas.
The teams split the next two games, with Miami winning Game 3 and the Mavs taking Game 4 to tie up the series. Just as they had all year, Wade and James led the Heat with passing and general floor leadership, though James faltered in some big moments –especially in Game 4. James’ struggles may be chalked up to him simply “choking,” but Shawn Marion‘s stellar defense and Dallas’s occasional zone certainly played a part. The Mavericks started heating up early in the series. Terry and Kidd were making shots, freeing Nowitzki to isolate on Bosh and use his offensive arsenal to score.
A Chance at Revenge
The 2006 NBA Finals saw these two teams meet, with Nowitzki and Wade facing off for the first time in the playoffs. Dallas started out 2-0 but the Heat surprisingly won the next four games and the title. Wade’s all-time great Finals performance was crucial to Miami’s 2006 victory. Mavs owner Mark Cuban certainly hasn’t held back his thoughts about foul play being involved in the result of the series. Five years later, the devastating loss was still stuck in the minds of Terry and Nowitzki, which presumably helped fuel them to their outstanding performances during the 2011 Finals.
This was the first game that either team – and in this case, both – broke 100 points. It wasn’t one-sided, but the Mavericks prevailed by a score of 112-103. Nowitzki scored 29 points and, once again, Terry hit a pivotal shot in the closing minutes. The box score of this game doesn’t quite tell the story of the effort that both teams made. Terry, though he made clutch shots, was nearly taken out of the game because of some defensive breakdowns that allowed the Heat to cut into Dallas’s lead. Mavs head coach Rick Carlisle took Terry out of the game and animatedly explained the problem to him. Not long after, Carlisle re-inserted Terry and decided to run the offense through him. Terry became the catalyst for an electrifying offense, as Nowitzki and Terry picked apart the Heat’s rigid defense.
The Title and Finals MVP
The final contest, Game 6, was more of the same from the previous game. The Mavericks’ offense worked effectively against a Miami defense that couldn’t contain Nowitzki and Terry. Dallas controlled the final 22 minutes of the game, as the Mavs did not give up the lead from that point. Terry led the way with 27 points, but Nowitzki was still the focal point of the offense.
Nowitzki was named Finals MVP due to his hard play and elite scoring. He led the Mavericks to their one and only championship, avenging their 2006 defeat. His 26.0 points and 9.7 rebounds per game sparked the Mavericks in their 4-2 series victory.
2010-11 Dallas Mavericks Legacy
It’s obvious that winning an NBA title is a rare and monumental achievement, but for Dirk Nowitzki, it means a place in the Hall of Fame. His regular season play was consistently in the upper echelon of all-time greats, but Nowitzki’s lack of a championship could have been the lone argument against a ballot. However, the title shines a light on Cuban, who bought the franchise in January 2000 and has brought the team from the bottom to a perennial contender. The Mavericks had not made the playoffs in 10 years prior to Cuban’s purchase. They made the conference semifinals in each of the next three seasons, with one trip to the Conference Finals. Dallas’s NBA team has only been around since 1980, but in the 21st century, the Mavericks are regarded as one of the most successful franchises in the league.
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