Sunset In Miami: Dallas Wins The NBA Title

 ~ Dirk Nowitzki and Jason Kidd can finally say they have one. Shawn Marion and Peja Stojakovic can finally say it. Jason Terry can finally say it. They can all  now look at each other and say that they now have a NBA championship.The Dallas Mavericks defeat the Miami Heat to become 2010-2011 NBA Champions. Miami now heads home for what will be a very long summer vacation, especially for LeBron James.

 

The Miami Heat went into the 4th quarter of Game 6 down by 9 points to the Dallas Mav’s. If it would have been Dallas down by 9, I really wouldn’t pay much attention to it. I know the chances are pretty good they are going to put themselves right back into a position to win the game. However, it was Miami that needed a 4th quarter comeback. The way this series went, for that to happen wouldn’t have been a smart wager.

 

 

The Role Players Step Up And Then The Superstars Step In

 

Dirk Nowitzi was not spectacular, far from it. He was 1 for 12 shooting the ball in the first half. It was what happened during that stretch which ultimately led to final score of this game. While Dirk was struggling to score, the role players for Dallas were picking him up. JJ Barea found his groove once he was put into the starting lineup and Miami couldn’t keep him out the paint. It was the outstanding shooting performance of Jason Terry though that kept Dallas afloat. Terry saved his biggest performance of the series for the elimination game. 19 big points in the first half, 27 points for the game. It was Terry’s shooting that allowed Dallas to continue running their normal offense. It paid off as Nowitzki came up with big shots in the 4th quarter to help put the game away and secure a championship.

 

Everything Dallas was in this series, Miami wasn’t. The Mav’s hustled harder, they fought harder, and they flat out outplayed the Heat in every important aspect of the game. That’s hard to imagine when two elite players are on one team. It’s harder to imagine when that team has the best 3rd option in the league. It’s exactly what happened though.

 

 

Winners Must Endure Adversity

 

 

This series was basically over after the back to back 4th quarter performances of LeBron James in games 4 and 5. The Miami Heat lost this series because James did not respond to the adversity that was thrown at him. As talented as this team is, they only get this far because of the play of Wade, Bosh, and James. The moment was there for James to grab when the efforts of Wade wasn’t enough.

 

James had moment after moment to establish himself as an elite player that belonged on the biggest stage. He was nowhere near the dominant player the fans have come to expect of him. James was indecisive, passive, and too quick to defer to the next player instead of letting his natural talent take over. It cost him a championship this season. It may also cost him further damage to the global icon status he is trying to build for himself.

 

LeBron James is in his 9th year in the league. That’s hard to imagine because he’s still so young. To be a winner, facing adversity and overcoming it is a must.He took Cleveland to the Finals in 2007 and they were swept by the Spurs. He couldn’t get them back to the Finals, finishing his time there on a losing note that’s best remembered for his final home game in Cleveland against Boston. In that game it looked as if James already had one foot out of the door and ultimately led him to Miami to team with Dywane Wade and Chris Bosh. 12 months worth of mostly public backlash later, James came up short again when it mattered most and when adversity is confronting him.

 

 

What happens to Miami from here on will be a point of conversation for weeks to come. Wade and James are the foundation of the team and as long as that’s the case, Miami will be title contenders. They had chemistry problems this season and that played a big part in their inconsistent play throughout the regular season. Wade and James must find a way to take the next step together as leaders of this team. Bosh has to find a way to get involved in the offense more. The supporting cast must be improved over the summer.

 

Whereas Miami took a step backwards in their pursuit of “multiple championships”, Dallas took full advantage of their time in the spotlight. This team wasn’t built for multiple championships. This was their moment. Kidd, Marion, Terry, and Stojakovic endured years of falling short in the playoffs as stars on their past teams. They embraced their role as supporting cast members while Dirk Nowitzki was the headliner. If there was any doubt left about Nowitzki being a big time superstar, it was erased in the playoffs this year. He led Dallas on comeback after comeback and dazzled everyone with his shooting. His mental toughness showed when he got hurt, sick, and eventually hit a shooting slump at the worst possible time. Dirk not only took on adversity, he embraced the challenge with the heart and determination of a champion.

 

This is a team that went the second half of the season without it’s Caron Butler. Butler was a big loss on offense and defense for the Mav’s. They overcame that to make the playoffs, run through Portland, sweep the defending champion Lakers, and hold off Oklahoma City to reach the Finals.

 

The Dallas Mavericks took their talents to South Beach and now head back to Texas with the trophy. When the moment comes, you have to be prepared for it. You never know when you’ll have that moment again. Dallas confronted the moment and ran with it, Miami was confronted by the moment and ran away from it.

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The NBA Finals > We’ve Got A Series … More Lessons Learned For Miami

 

~ I try not to blog or post during a playoff series because the ups and downs of a game can be too much at times and unpredictable. The 2010-2011 Dallas Mavericks make it very hard to stay with that plan. They did it again. Trailing Miami by 15 points in the 4th quarter with a little over 7 minutes to play, Dallas stormed back and stunned the Heat to win Game 2 of The Finals 95-93.

 

The series is now tied at 1-1 and now heads to Texas for 3 straight games. It’s possible now that Dallas wont have to come back to Miami to win the NBA title.

 

Dirk Nowitzki did it again, scoring the last 9 points of the game for Dallas. The game winner was a left handed layup … the same non-shooting left hand that has a torn tendon in it from Game 1.

 

This series is and will continue to be one that gets analyzed to death. However, it still comes down to execution and which team is mentally tougher. In Game 1, Miami executed better. In Game 2, Dallas was the mentally tougher team.

 

Throughout this game, LeBron James and Dywane Wade ran up a highlight film full of dunks and big shots. When Wade hit that three to put Miami up by 15 points, it clearly looked like the game was over.

 

Lately that’s the way it has gone for Miami, play big time defense throughout the night, then pull away in crunch time with the younger and fresher legs of their two closers. After Wade hit the three though, the defense stopped and the offense lost it’s rhythm.

 

 Dallas has shown throughout the post season that they will not just pack it up and go home. They had more poise and stepped up with the big plays when it mattered most. They played like an experienced playoff team. A mentally tough one.

 

 It would be easy to say that Miami gave this game away. It’s a valid conclusion to draw. It’s a lesson learned for a team that is still learning to play together in situations they have never been in before as a team.

 

The point was made on NBATV by Charles Barkley that Miami should’ve handled this better because they’ve been on this championship level before. That was a completely different Miami team though. This team is being tested in every way possible this year and even though it hurts, they needed a loss like this one. Adversity always comes up when the road seems like it’s getting easier. It’s how Miami reacts in Game 3 that may determine how the rest of the series goes.

 

If you’re a Dallas fan, you should be happy that your team showed you what they didn’t showed you in Game 1. The role players stepped up. Shawn Marion and Jason Terry were steady enough throughout long enough to help Dirk Nowitzki unlike in Game 1. They also took Miami’s best punches throughout three quarters and were able to get off the ropes and recover.

 

If you’re a Miami fan, hope they continue to play great team defense. It opens up the way for those fast breaks when Miami is at their best on offense. They also need Chris Bosh to step up and be that weapon he was in the conference finals. Three games in Dallas coming up, Bosh is from Dallas. It would be pretty interesting to see if he’s able to take full advantage of the obvious moment that wil be presented for him.

 

 Dirk’s game winning layup looked almost too easy. We can second guess that Udonis Haslem should have been guarding him, however  Bosh should’ve played him better than he did. Miami also had a foul to give and basically forgot about it. Give Dirk credit for being aggresive enough to take it to the basket and not only did he score, he scored with the left hand … the injured left hand that some wondered might be a problem.

 

I still think this series is going seven games, the first two games showed why for different reasons. The stats are the stats, and the superstars are on the court. These first two games showed that it still comes down to mental toughness and execution.

NBA Playoffs > One Big Step for Miami & One Bigger Step for LeBron James

 

~ One big step for the Miami Heat and one bigger step for LeBron James. For this one night watching the Miami Heat, we “can’t knock da hustle”. The Heat eliminated the Boston Celtics from the playoffs to advance to the Eastern Conference Finals. They will now await the winner of the Atlanta Hawks-Chicago Bulls series. For the Heat, it was a dramatic ending to a series they needed to win for a number of  reasons that go beyond just advancing to the next round. It wasn’t Dywane Wade closing the show out for the Heat though, it was the man most love to hate … LeBron Raymone James. 

Before I even go any further with this post though, congrats to the Boston Celtics. They went out like champions which is unlike how the defending champion Lakers bowed out to Dallas over in the west. The Celtics were badly outmanned, and had to face a team that was just as hungry however had younger legs than them. This series saw Rajon Rondo give everything he had despite dislocating his elbow. It also saw the possible end of Shaquille O’Neal’s great NBA career. The mind and heart may have wanted to give more, the body just would not allow it though. This was very much like a heavyweight fight and Boston being the old, savy, and crafty veterans were not going to go down easily. Their legacy is implanted firmly though as the original “Big 3” and a championship team.

The way Miami finished Boston off was a script made for Hollywood. A 16-0 run to close out a game they trailed most of. The last 10 points scored by LeBron James. That stat alone is as strong a sub-plot as there has been this season in the NBA. As Miami went through their struggles to gel together as a team, James was dealing with adversity over not being able to close out a game. The irony now to see James not only close out the game for Miami, he also puts the dagger in the Boston Celtics run in the playoffs. It was as fitting a closure to the last 12 months for James as one can possibly get. The journey is not over for him and Miami, they still are 8 wins away from the ultimate goal, a championship. However, they deserve the moment right now.

 

Dywane Wade realized he needed help in Miami this year if he was going to get out of the first round. James realized he needed help that Cleveland didn’t have to get past the Celtics. After years of barely making the playoffs in Toronto, Chris Bosh realized he needed LeBron James and Dywane Wade. We all don’t have to like how this all went about coming together in South Beach. There will always be criticism to eqaul whatever acheivments they accomplish. At the end of the day, the bottom line is what matters. For the Miami Heat and LeBron James, the bottom line was:

  • Becoming a Basketball Team and not just a collection of NBA talent and the 2 best players in the world.

 

  • Defeating the Boston Celtics. It would not have the same effect, had it been the Knicks, or the Magic … it had to be Boston.

 

  • Winning an NBA Championship.

 

They took the first two steps and now all that’s left is that one last one.

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