2010-2011 Dallas Mavericks Schedule.
Posted 31 May 2011 - 06:49 PM
A bust with Bulls, Tyson Chandler is now a must for Mavs.
BY MARK POTASH
MIAMI--"The Bulls aren’t here. But Tyson Chandler is — a reminder of just how dark it was before Derrick Rose resuscitated a struggling franchise.
Chandler was a cornerstone of one of the worst rebuilding projects in NBA history. The 7-1 center represented everything that went wrong for the Bulls in the post-Jordan era. He was drafted too high. Paid too much. Rewarded too soon.
And he forced operations chief John Paxson into compounding Jerry Krause’s mistakes. When Chandler fizzled in 2005-06 after signing a six-year, $63 million contract, the Bulls signed Ben Wallace, then traded Chandler to the New Orleans Hornets.
And, of course, only then did Chandler play the best basketball of his NBA career.
The Bulls have recovered from that ignominy. And it’s good to see that Chandler has as well. Still only 28 after 10 seasons in the NBA, Chandler is a step away from an NBA championship ring. He’s the starting center for the Dallas Mavericks, who open the NBA Finals tonight against the favored Miami Heat.
Standing at a lectern along the baseline at American Airlines Arena on Monday, Chandler said those early years with the Bulls — they went 21-61, 30-52 and 23-59 in his first three seasons — still have an impact on him today.
‘‘It makes you appreciate where you’re at when you go through all the struggles that I’ve had to endure throughout my career,’’ said Chandler, who averaged 10.1 points and 9.4 rebounds and was named to the NBA all-defensive second team this season. ‘‘When you get to a moment like this, you’re not willing to take a play off or a night off or anything else because you know there’s a chance you many never get back here again.’’
The Bulls started taking steps toward respectability under coach Scott Skiles in Chandler’s final two seasons in Chicago. They went 47-35 in 2004-05 but dropped to 41-41 in 2005-06.
Chandler said he still thinks about his bad days with the Bulls, albeit wistfully.
‘‘I think about them often,’’ he said. “Whenever somebody talks about young players or whenever I see the Bulls, I just go back and think of what we could have been had we stayed together and had it been a better situation.’’
Fate has dealt Chandler and the Bulls a better hand since then. After struggling through a tough season with the Charlotte Bobcats in 2009-10 as he recovered from foot surgery, Chandler was nearly traded to the Toronto Raptors last summer. But the deal fell through and Chandler was sent to the Mavericks.
The Bulls and league MVP Rose nearly made it to the Finals, too. I asked Chandler if he felt bad that the Bulls didn’t advance.
‘‘No,’’ he said. ‘‘[I felt bad] for Derrick Rose and Luol Deng. I played with Luol [and with Rose on the world championship-winning Team USA last summer]. You want to see your friends and good guys in the league do well.
‘‘Derrick Rose, I felt bad for a little while. But then I didn’t because I know that kid is going to be there for years to come. He’s an amazing player.”
But Chandler knows how unpredictable the NBA is. When he came into the league as the No. 2 pick in 2001, he was expected to turn the Bulls into a contender, and it never happened.
When he was traded to the Mavericks, there was more disappointment than excitement. And now he’s a valuable ‘‘vocal leader’’ on a team playing for a championship.
‘‘We needed [his leadership], especially from a center position,’’ Mavs guard Jason Terry said. ‘‘People don’t realize it, but if you look at all the championship teams through the years, that center position has been key.
‘‘Look at Miami in ’06 with Alonzo Mourning. Look at Boston with KG [Kevin Garnett]. Those are vocal guys with a lot of energy. When your big man plays with the type of energy as Tyson Chandler, guys feed off it. It’s a real key to success."
Posted 31 May 2011 - 06:51 PM
Jason Terry’s championship trophy tattoo may not last long.
By Eric Freeman.
"On Thursday, we brought you the story of Jason Terry getting a tattoo of the Larry O'Brien Trophy as a motivational tactic for himself and the Dallas Mavericks last fall. It seems to have worked, because the Mavs are now a mere four wins from turning Terry's body art into a legendary piece of ink. What seemed silly a few months ago now seems like a stroke a genius.
Except it turns out that Terry may not be willing to embrace the permanence of this particular tattoo. If the Mavericks can't beat the Heat, he's going to have it removed.
From Tim McMahon for ESPNDallas.com:
If his Dallas Mavericks don't beat the Miami Heat in the NBA Finals, Terry said he would have the tattoo removed from the inside of his right biceps.
"I definitely know that it will hurt worse if I have to take this thing off than it did putting it on," Terry said Sunday after the Mavericks wrapped up their final practice before boarding their flight to Miami.
If the Mavs fail to win their first NBA championship, Terry said it would mean his tattoo was bad luck.
"I'm very superstitious," he said.
Terry is well known for his superstitions (including wearing five pairs of socks during games), so it's possible that this reason is not all hogwash. On the other hand, saying that it will hurt more to have the tattoo removed than to keep it is only true in the physical sense, because the entire point of this motivational tool is that meeting the accomplishment won't make JET look like a fool.
Maybe the tattoo has outlived its usefulness as a motivational tactic; if a player can't get pumped up to win the NBA Finals without the help of a tattoo, then there is probably some other problem with their approach to their profession. Still, there's something a little fishy about Terry's decision to chalk up this decision to his superstitious nature. Sometimes, a guy just doesn't want to be the subject of ridicule for the rest of his career.
Then again, this gambit could all be part of Terry's master plan. Somewhere, behind closed doors, DeShawn Stevenson(notes) is addressing his teammates: "Men, let's not let JET go down in history as that dope who got a tattoo of the championship trophy and then got it removed. Because it's been my dream for as long as I can remember to go down in history as the guy from this team with a bunch of stupid tattoos."
Posted 31 May 2011 - 06:53 PM
Jason Terry to remove trophy tattoo if Mavs
"Dallas Mavericks guard Jason Terry says he will remove his tattoo of the Larry O'Brien trophy if the Miami Heat win the 2011 NBA Finals. Posted by Ben Golliver.
In case you hadn't heard, Dallas Mavericks guard Jason Terry got a tattoo of the Larry O'Brien Trophy -- the gold orb trophy thing that goes to the team who wins the NBA title -- on the inside of his right bicep. (Pictured to the right.) Terry got inked prior to the season as a way to motivate himself reports Star-Telegram.com.
"Everybody laughed and thought it was a joke at the time, but then when they saw me actually get it they were like, 'This boy's serious,'" Terry said. "And our whole conversation was about right now, about us getting to this point and winning it all.
With the Mavericks now poised to face the Miami Heat in the NBA Finals, reality and regret regarding the tattoo is starting to set in for Terry. The obvious question: What happens if the Heat beat the Mavericks? It's going to be pretty awkard to have a tattoo of something you didn't win on your arm forever, right?
Indeed, Sun-Sentinel.com reported on Sunday that Terry said he will remove the tattoo should the Mavericks up come short.
"It symbolized the fact we had a realistic shot of getting there." Terry said Sunday before the team departed for Miami. "If I didn't think we had a chance, I definitely wouldn't have put that on there. ... For me, it's something I have to sleep with, something I wake up with. I definitely know it's going to hurt worse if I have to take this thing off."
Yep, if Dallas doesn't win the trophy, look for Terry to get it removed.
"It means it was bad luck." Terry said. "I'm very superstitious."
That would be the single most depressing tattoo removal of all time. Maybe there's a way the artist could just alter it rather than remove it. Maybe a tweak to make it look like the Eiffel Tower or the Leaning Tower of Pisa? Or maybe the Space Needle -- an homage to Terry's hometown of Seattle?
It's a little disappointing Terry is already considering the possibility of removing the tattoo before the Finals has even started. What a perfect opportunity to guarantee a Dallas victory: "This ink isn't going anywhere!" Now that would have been awesome."
Posted 31 May 2011 - 06:54 PM
Jason Terry: Mike Bibby won't be afraid to take big shots; he's got 'ice water' in his veins.
"Dallas Mavericks Shawn Marion and Jason Terry were interviewed by the media prior to the NBA finals beginning on Tuesday. Here are some highlights:
You were a piece of Miami’s plan to bring LeBron James and Chris Bosh to team up with Dwyane Wade this past summer. While you were here, did you get any feeling that this whole thing was being set in motion?
You know, this is a business. Things happen and who am I to say things about what is about to happen when you make trades and the free agency. I’ll tell you something though, it benefited them because they were able to sign Chris and LeBron and bring back D-Wade of course. It’s good for them but at the end of the day, it’s about the Dallas Mavericks right now. We’re in the NBA finals as well. We’ve done a great job of getting here and we’ve been out here taking care of business.
You and Mike Bibby both went to Arizona right. What’s it like playing against him now?
Oh, he’s always funny. He’s a jokester but my favorite thing about Mike is that he was never scared of the moment; being a freshman, going to the NCAA tournament, leading your team…he took every big shot, he hit every big free throw. I just remember the quote they used: “He has ice water in his veins.” It’s always stuck with him, even in his career in the NBA. He’s always been willing to take and make big shots and that’s something that I implemented in my game and I’ve been the same player ever since.
How happy are you for him to get to this stage?
Oh, I’m very excited; I’m very excited for him. Again, one of us is going to walk away with that trophy. Either way it goes, I know we’re going to be excited for each other."
Posted 31 May 2011 - 06:56 PM
Mavs don't rule out Caron Butler return.
Comments By Tim MacMahon.
"The Dallas Mavericks do not anticipate Caron Butler will be able to play in the NBA Finals, although a return remains a possibility.
"It's unlikely, but I can't say no for sure," coach Rick Carlisle said during a Thursday morning appearance on ESPN 103.3's "Ben and Skin Show."
Butler, a two-time All-Star who began his career with the Miami Heat, has been working to return from a ruptured patellar tendon in his right knee. Butler is able to sprint and jump, but he has not yet been cleared for full-contact practice.
Butler suffered the injury on New Year's Day in Milwaukee, popped the kneecap back in place and walked to the Mavericks' locker room because he didn't want to be seen carried off the court in front of the dozens of friends and family members who traveled from his hometown of Racine, Wis., to attend the game.
After Butler underwent surgery days later, the Mavericks announced that he would be out for the season. However, Butler declared soon afterward that he was determined to return during Dallas' playoff run.
Butler, known by his "Tuff Juice" nickname, was averaging 15.0 points as the starting small forward for a 24-7 team when he was injured. The Mavs signed Peja Stojakovic in midseason to help fill the scoring void created by Butler's absence.
Butler wasn't able to contribute to the Mavs' Western Conference championship run, but his positive attitude and work ethic has been an inspiration to teammates and coaches.
"I just want to see him in layup lines," Dallas guard Jason Terry said recently. "If he can get up in layup lines, it's going to boost us immensely emotionally. He's been here the whole way, though. This guy has worked so hard to get ready."
Posted 31 May 2011 - 06:58 PM
Mavs' Butler 'unlikely' to return for NBA finals.
DALLAS—"Don't expect Caron Butler to make a dramatic return to the Dallas Mavericks just in time to face the Miami Heat in the NBA finals.
Coach Rick Carlisle said Friday that Butler's availability for this series is "unlikely, but I'm not sure."
Butler has been out since tearing a tendon in his right knee on Jan. 1. He was averaging 14 points and 4.1 rebounds in almost 30 minutes per game. He averaged 18 points in Dallas' two regular-season wins over Miami.
Since surgery, he has said he hoped to return during the postseason. He often has been on the court shooting after practices, but has not been fully cleared by team doctors."
Posted 31 May 2011 - 07:00 PM
Caron Butler may play in NBA Finals for Mavericks.
By Sean Deveney-Sporting News.
"The Dallas Mavericks enter the NBA Finals as a much deeper team than the Miami Heat. And they could get even deeper.
That’s because swingman Caron Butler, who has been out since Jan. 1 with a knee injury, is saying he might be able to make an appearance at some point in the Finals. When he was injured, Butler — a very solid defender on the wing, where Dallas needs the most help — was averaging 15.0 points.
The Mavs aren't ruling out the possibility that Caron Butler, who's been out since Jan. 1, will make an appearance in the Finals. (AP Photo)“I have felt good in my workouts,” Butler said. “I am moving well, I just have to stay on it and see what happens. It’s bittersweet to be on this stage, because obviously, you want to play in the first game. But I still think I have an opportunity to play. I remain optimistic.”
Coach Rick Carlisle downplayed the likelihood that Butler would be able to play in the series, but cautioned that, based on what Butler said at the time of the injury when he walked off without a stretcher, it would be unwise to rule him out. “He said, ‘Well, my mama and my grandma were sitting in the stands. I wasn’t going to let them watch me be carried off on a stretcher,’” Carlisle said. “I wouldn’t bet against that guy.”
Butler, who can become a free agent after the season, started his career in Miami before being sent to Los Angeles in the Shaquille O’Neal deal."
Posted 31 May 2011 - 07:02 PM
Five years later, Dirk's got new PG bond.
Comments by Marc Stein...ESPN.com.
"Dirk may poke fun at him for his age, but Jason Kidd could be the Dallas star's best running mate ever.
This assemblage of Dallas Mavericks has no long-term future. Not when a 38-year-old is arguably its second-most important player.
So the first season of Nowitzki's four-year contract already feels like a last hurrah in a lot of ways, because getting to the Finals with a one-star construction is cake compared to sustaining success that way.
Not that you should expect to hear much pining from Dirk over the next two weeks for a superstar sidekick. He'll need one sooner rather than later for those next three seasons, with his 33rd birthday less than three weeks away, but he's going back to the Finals with a real running mate this time. Something he noticeably missed in 2006.
"He's been great, man," Nowitzki says of Jason Kidd. "He's been a blessing.
"I'm serious. His willpower and his competitiveness reach a level that not a lot of guys reach in this league."
Nowitzki and other Mavs love to kid about Kidd's age in public. Example: On Monday afternoon in Miami, at their first Finals session with the national media on the eve of Game 1, Shawn Marion joked that Kidd is "almost 50" and Dirk couldn't bear to leave the podium without wedging in a crack about how his point guard is "a fossil."
But Nowitzki was indeed serious when he said he feels blessed to be chasing that elusive ring with another Hall of Fame-bound point guard, even if Kidd is in his twilight years. Maybe he can't carry a team like he did in 2002 and 2003, powering the previously woebegone New Jersey Nets to back-to-back Finals appearances, but this Kidd can still keep a team from unraveling. Which is pretty key.
"The big thing is just [helping] my teammates understand the moment and stay in the moment," Kidd said. "That's my biggest role."
One of Nowitzki's greatest personal achievements has to be keeping the Mavs in the West elite even after best friend Steve Nash's free-agent departure in the summer of 2004. Maintaining the close relationship he's had with Mavericks owner Mark Cuban, given the messy manner of Nash's departure, is likewise one of Dirk's (and Cuban's) best-ever tricks.
Yet it's evident pretty quickly that Nowitzki views Kidd with the same reverence, despite the fact that Kidd's first two and a half seasons at Nowitzki's side netted just two first-round exits and an early coaching change, with Rick Carlisle replacing Avery Johnson shortly after the trade when it became apparent that the Mavs -- even with the addition of Kidd -- needed a new voice.
"It didn't pan out right away with the J-Kidd thing," Nowitzki said of Dallas' first major personnel move in the wake of the '06 collapse. "But I think now we see what kind of leader he is on and off the floor, what kind of floor game he plays on both ends of the floor, and he's been phenomenal."
Although he stops short of saying Kidd's arrival at the 2008 trade deadline was a direct response to Nash's exit -- "We didn't get Kidd 'til way later," Nowitzki point out -- it's telling that pretty much nothing else gets Dirk to open up like Kidd questions do. Having an equal in locker-room stature, as well as another original Maverick to share the emotional and mental burdens of the journey, has undoubtedly made Nowitzki's daily life easier. They've both clung to the belief that the lone-star Mavs were never far away from contention, despite their 10-21 nosedive in the playoffs since taking a 2-0 lead over the Heat in '06 … until this spring's 12-3 run.
"He is one of the fiercest competitors I've ever met," Nowitzki said. "I've never seen a guy that can leave the court with two points and be the guy who gets the game ball.
"If there's a scrum for the ball and Kidd gets his hands on the ball, it's his. He's got unbelievably strong, quick hands. If we ask him to guard Kobe [Bryant] or [Kevin] Durant, he can do it. His ability to guard people at 38 is insane."
Said Carlisle: "On our team, he's a superstar. That's how important he is to us."
Kidd can't live up to that label statistically any more, with averages of 9.9 points, 7.7 assists and 4.5 rebounds per game in the playoffs. Yet you'll also note that he's the last name point guard standing in these playoffs in what was supposed to be the Year of the Young Speedster QB.
If you do what Nowitzki won't do and go back and watch, say, Game 5 of the '06 Finals, you'll undoubtedly come away with a men-against-boys vibe when crunch time hits. Let's just say that Dallas faces lots of potential problems in this series, with LeBron James in the zone of his life at both ends, but coping with the size of the moment won't be one of them.
Not with the battle-hardened Kidd about to join Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Karl Malone as the only starters in Finals history in the 38-and-over club. The previous oldest starting guard in the Finals was Ron Harper, who was 36 with the Lakers in 1999-2000.
"Smartest guy in the locker room and on the court," said Mavs president of basketball operations Donnie Nelson. "The age thing? He might be playing the best basketball of his career at 38. I do know this: In the fourth quarter, when he's got the ball, we got a chance to win."
Said Kidd: "It's been a long journey. We all expected things to happen a little quicker [after the trade in 2008], in the sense of maybe being more competitive and being in the Finals … but, again, patience is one thing. And also just understanding the game of basketball can be very nice and also cruel at the same time."
It's a shared understanding with Nowitzki that, flanked by younger unreliables like Devin Harris and Josh Howard five years ago, Dirk was largely shouldering alone."
Posted 31 May 2011 - 07:05 PM
NBA Finals Analysis: Inside Mavs Nowitzki’s Unorthodox Workouts.
Opinion by Alex Groberman.
"Dallas Mavericks superstar, Dirk Nowitzki, has always been undeniably unique. No other 7-footer in history has ever had the ability to shoot as efficiently and effortlessly as he does. No other European player has ever been as big a focal point of his NBA team as Nowitzki has been for the Mavs. And, most importantly, no other music lover in professional hoops has ever publicly come out and admitted that he listens to David Hasselhoff.
As it turns out, the big German’s one-of-a-kind nature stems, in large part, from his unorthodox game-day training sessions with his equally enigmatic trainer, Holger Geschwindner.
New Jersey Star-Ledger reporter, Dave D’Alessandro, had the opportunity to get a bit of insight on these workouts, and here is how he described them:
“And then, it just got crazy,” said Bob Salmi (of ESPN), whose pals rolled cameras and captured it from every angle. “It was a 50-minute workout, and one of the most bizarre things I ever saw in basketball.”
• A pirouette at the foul line, spinning 360 degrees off one shoulder and shooting; then reversing the spin and shooting. You get dizzy just watching it.
• One-footed jumpers — both right and left, both with leg extended and knee bent — from every mid-range angle, with or without glass. All of it is the kind of up-the-ladder stuff you pull out to finish a game of H-O-R-S-E.
• Something we’ll call the Groucho Marx: He’d take two long strides while still in a crouch, pick up a rolling ball, then shoot. Going both ways.
• The Eiffel Tower: Dirk spreads his legs as far as they can go (say, 2½ feet beyond his shoulder width), reach over to touch a foot with both hands, and then catch-and-shoot from that very awkward, open position. This is the one that makes every male shield his eyes.
As strange as some of these things sound, it would hardly be shocking to see other players begin to model certain aspects of their practices after what Dirk does. If the ex-MVP is able to capture his first title in the next few weeks, especially, expect to see half of the NBA doing the Groucho Marx by September."
Posted 31 May 2011 - 07:11 PM
Finals | Game 1
Nowitzki and James Took Divergent Paths to Same Goal.
Dirk Nowitzki and LeBron James are players with superlative perimeter skills but no N.B.A. championships.
By KAREN CROUSE.
MIAMI —"The N.B.A. finals open Tuesday night, and they are being served up as a delicious contrast: convenience versus commitment, with LeBron James’s Miami Heat representing professional basketball’s version of a precooked meal and Dirk Nowitzki’s Dallas Mavericks a team that was lovingly made from scratch.
James, 26, and Nowitzki, 32, are players with superlative but hardly identical skills whose postseasons have been highlight reels of which dreams are made. The 6-foot-8 James is averaging 26 points a game, and the 7-foot Nowitzki 28.4. Both are making their second appearance in the finals; neither has a ring. But one will now gain the validation that a championship confers, and with it, membership on the short list of the game’s greatest players.
The Mavericks have won 14 straight regular-season games against the Heat, including a 98-96 triumph in December that stopped a 12-game Miami winning streak. The Heat players say they found their footing after the calendar turned, establishing a chemistry in the new year that was nonexistent in those first few frenzied months of the season.
The argument could be made that the quests of James and Nowitzki, dramatic as they are, are not as compelling as that of Jason Kidd, who at 38 is also seeking his first N.B.A. title after 17 years and 105 career triple-doubles.
But Kidd is no longer a dominant star in the way James and Nowitzki are. They are fighting for the same territory, James with his drives to the basket, Nowitzki with his uncanny outside touch, but with overall strategies that have set them — and their teams — apart.
In the free-agent frenzy of 2010, Nowitzki, without much fanfare, decided to remain with the franchise that first signed him and for whom he has toiled for 13 seasons. He re-signed with the Mavericks, he told reporters Monday, because “ultimately, that was where my heart was at.”
He added, “It almost felt like we had unfinished business.”
Nowitzki, a native of Germany, was referring to the Mavericks’ loss to the Heat in the 2006 finals. Dallas won the first two games before losing the next four in a series that made a superstar of Dwyane Wade and a scapegoat of Nowitzki, who uncharacteristically struggled with his offense.
James, a native of Akron, Ohio, led the Cleveland Cavaliers to the finals a year later only to be swept by the San Antonio Spurs. His home remains northeastern Ohio, but last summer, he very publicly took his talents to South Beach, joining Wade and Chris Bosh, another free-agent acquisition, in what struck many people as less an act of free will than a willful act of superstar collusion.
Now, less than a year after following their hearts, James and Nowitzki will meet on the game’s biggest stage, with nothing less than their career legacies on the line. James may even be asked to defend Nowitzki in the fourth quarter, when the outcome could be hanging in the balance.
“You hear all the time, they always say to go down as one of the greats you have to put a ring on your résumé,” James said Monday, heeding N.B.A. protocol that in the finals, he answer questions by himself rather than, as was often the case this season, with Wade at his side.
“As an individual, you have those dreams and you have those goals,” he added. “You want to be a champion. Do you care as much about what people say about your career as far as your body of work? I don’t know.”
The perception is that when the going got tough in Cleveland, which looked outmanned against Boston in the postseason last year, James bolted for South Florida, where the sun was warm but the spotlight would not shine on him alone. Nowitzki, meanwhile, decided to persevere despite repeatedly falling short against the twin powers in the West, the Los Angeles Lakers and the Spurs. He said he chose to stay after sitting down with the Mavericks’ owner, Mark Cuban.
“All I needed was a little reassurance that he was going to keep going, keep building around this team and put all his resources in for us to hopefully be up there one day,” Nowitzki said.
Cuban kept his word, with the Mavericks adding Tyson Chandler in the off-season and Peja Stojakovic once the season started. Nowitzki took care of the rest.
“There’s been a lot made of what’s my legacy without it, with it,” Nowitzki said, referring to an N.B.A. title. “I’m not really worried about all that. I’m trying to be on the best team. I’m trying to win it for this organization, for the owner, for myself and for the team.”
As for going up against Nowitzki, James said he welcomed the opportunity to defend him, although Bosh told reporters that Nowitzki’s fallaway jumper was essentially indefensible.
“He’s throwing everything at guys,” Bosh said of Nowitzki.
James said, “Looking forward to guarding anybody.”
A season spent on the defensive has James fully prepared for whatever stands in his way. A career spent in Dallas has Nowitzki in a position to be rewarded for staying put. They are compelling story lines, perhaps bound to collide in the closing minutes of each game."
Posted 31 May 2011 - 07:13 PM
Mavs Talk The Talk Before Game 1.
By: Alex Kennedy.
"The Dallas Mavericks couldn't care less about the hype surrounding the Miami HEAT. While LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh have received much of the attention throughout their postseason run, Dallas is ready and confident heading into the 2011 NBA Finals.
When asked if their achievements have been overlooked entering this series, Shawn Marion summed up how Dallas feels about the lack of respect that they have been receiving.
"We really don't care," Marion said. "At the end of the day, this about what we're able to do and what we've done. Are all of these people giving us credit? I don't give a f***. It's just that simple. We don't care. What does it matter? We've shown what we can do and what we're capable of, but we're not finished yet. We made the Finals, but this not what we came here to do. We came here to take the trophy home with us."
The Mavericks feel that they pose new problems for the HEAT on both ends of the floor.
"During the playoffs, I don't think they have faced a team like us," Tyson Chandler said. "It's going to be a different look for them. Obviously, it's more West-coast style of play versus East-coast style of play and it's going to be different."
"I don't think the teams that they've faced have had three-point shooters that are spread out like we have so it's hard to gauge," Jason Terry added. "Their key and principles are no points in the paint so we'll see what happens. It's a game of adjustments, but I will tell you that we'll be aggressive tonight and go after this one."
The Mavericks are a veteran team and aren't feeling nervous at all heading into tonight's game.
"I have no nervous jitters and no uneasiness about anything," Terry said. "I'm good. I got my rest. I had the Heat shorts on last night. Gary Payton gave me some from back when they beat us so I had those."
"When it's your first time, you're a little nervous as you start understanding what you're playing for and what's at stake," said Jason Kidd, who played in the Finals in 2002 and 2003. "Now, it's just another basketball game that we're trying to find a way to win."
"Nothing can really get us rattled," Dirk Nowitzki added. "We've been through a lot during this playoff run – losing tough games, coming back to win some games. We don't want to get carried away here. It's still basketball. It's a little bit bigger, but ultimately we just have to put the ball in the basket."
"We have a lot of guys that have been deep in the playoffs before," Rick Carlisle said. "We have a lot of guys who have played in huge international games that are extremely pressured packed. I don't need to say a lot to these guys, they know where things are at. I'll remind them of a few things that are important relative to what our approach is going to be. We have to be resourceful, opportunistic and efficient."
The Mavericks are focused on stealing at least one game in Miami, and showing the HEAT early that they can compete with them and won't back down throughout the series.
"It's just important to get out there and challenge them," Chandler said. "We want to make sure we execute our game plan. We have to get out there and make things difficult for them. We're not going to ease our way into the game. We're going to come out guns blazing in all seven games that we play. We want to get out there and play our best. We felt like we tiptoed in a couple of series, but we want to just come out ready."
"If you're a road team, you always want to go for it," Nowitzki added. "You don't want to just settle for the split. Before you go after the second one, you want to go after the first one. We want to go out there and let it all hang out there tonight. Everyone is rested so everybody should be ready to go from the get-go. We just have to go after it. Both teams are going to be ready to compete on defense and offense. We just have to leave it all out there and see what happens."
"I don't believe in 'feeling out' anything at this point," Carlisle said. "You have to be ready to play right when the ball is thrown up. We've had four times, as have they, so I'm very sure both teams will be ready."
View Alex Kennedy Archive After playing scorers such as Kobe Bryant and Kevin Durant during their playoff run, Dallas feels prepared to take on James, Wade and Bosh.
"It's the same thing we've done in every series against great guards that can penetrate," Chandler said. "Last series, we had Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant, who do an excellent job of penetrating, but we were able to slow them down. A lot of times, you're not going to be able to stop LeBron or D-Wade from penetrating, but you just have to try to make things difficult for them."
"They're similar because they're very athletic at two positions and we know that those two guys are the best in the business when they can get out and running so our focus is defense," Terry added. "We know that in order to beat these guys, we have to have a strong effort. We really don't care about the lineup. Oklahoma City played small, L.A. played big, and Portland played small at times. We've seen it all. We're ready and equipped. Our personnel matches up well with anything that they can throw out there."
"We've just got to be prepared to play our game and play it well," Carlisle said. "The defensive end is going to be critical and the match ups are difficult with James, Wade, Bosh and their role players, who are underrated. It's not just going to be one guy guarding their stars. Our whole team is going to be geared around trying to contain those guys and we're going to have get stops and rebounds."
James and Wade will receive the bulk of the media attention, but Dallas is more concerned with shutting down Bosh down low.
"Our thing is, Wade and LeBron are going to have the ball the majority of the time so they're going to take a lot of shots. It's not allowing Bosh to have any kind of impact in the series, that's the key for us," Terry said.
Nowitzki has spent plenty of time watching Bosh during these playoffs and he knows it won't be an easy task.
"I think he does a great job playing off these other two guys," Nowitzki said of Bosh. "He's looking so comfortable with his shot now and every time he faces up, it looks like it's going in. He can shoot from eighteen to twenty feet. He has a great pump fake and when he does that, he gets to the basket. He's just playing at a really high level right now and he's one of the keys to why they're here. He's so comfortable. He has the whole face-up repertoire and he's definitely a tough player to guard."
Entering this series, the Mavericks are focused on protecting the ball and limiting Miami's transition scoring.
"We have to guard, we have to rebound and we have to take care of the ball," Carlisle said. "Those are really the three major parts of any playoff series, but particularly against these guys because if you turn it over, they're going to convert on the other end faster than anyone else in basketball."
While the stage is bigger and the pressure is intensified, Dallas is ready. They know what to expect and they're going to give Miami their best shot.
"You understand what you're playing for and you go out there and play every single possession that way," Chandler said.
"This is not a regular season game; this is not even the beginning of the playoffs. This is the Finals. Two teams are standing and you have to give it everything you've got each play."
Posted 31 May 2011 - 07:15 PM
NBA Saturday: Dirk Nowitzki's Second Chance.
By: Alex Kennedy.
"When the Dallas Mavericks lost the 2006 NBA Finals to the Miami Heat after leading the series 2-0, Dirk Nowitzki told those close to him that he would never let another opportunity to win a championship slip out of his grasp. Now, five years later, he has the chance to avenge that loss and add a title to his résumé.
Nowitzki has elevated his game during these playoffs and carried the Mavericks on his back. This postseason, Nowitzki has averaged a remarkable 28.4 points and 7.5 rebounds while shooting 51.7 percent from the field. He has beaten every defensive scheme that teams have thrown at him and, at times, appeared unstoppable. However, none of that will matter if Nowitzki isn't hoisting the Larry O'Brien trophy in two weeks.
"A championship would obviously mean a lot to me," Nowitzki said on The Dan Patrick Show. "Just overall, that is one thing that I have been fighting for for 13 years. We came so close five years ago against the same team and they came back and beat us. That would have been in the back of my mind for the rest of my life, probably, if I never would've gotten [another] chance. It will just mean more to me. I don't really care what it means to my legacy and all that stuff. It just means so much to me because I want to win, I play to win and I've been in this league for a long time to get this chance again. That's really all I'm worried about."
To this day, Nowitzki still hasn't watched film of his first NBA Finals appearance.
"Honestly, I've never went back to watch those games," Nowitzki admitted. "I think I would just be so sick to my stomach so I decided shortly after to never watch those games, but I still have a lot on my memory. Trust me. Game 5 down the stretch, we go up by one. Then, they get two free throws to win it and I kick the ball. I mean, all sorts of stuff is still on my mind. Five years ago seems like a long time, but some of the stuff is still fresh on my mind."
Only four players – Dwyane Wade, Udonis Haslem, Jason Terry and Nowitzki – remain from the 2006 series, but there's no question that Nowitzki feels he has something to prove against Miami.
"Dirk, obviously, is very driven by that," Wade told reporters after eliminating the Chicago Bulls. "I noticed watching the game [when they eliminated the Oklahoma City Thunder], he didn't even celebrate very long. He was the first one off to the locker room. He's very focused. He has a goal in mind and he wants to reach it. The Miami Heat are always going to come up. He knows it, and that's why he says he needs to get back there and try to erase it."
Nowitzki knows that reaching his goal will be difficult with such a talented team standing in his way. He watched Miami's comeback win in Game 5, and came away extremely impressed.
"I did watch the game and it was an amazing comeback," Nowitzki said. "We pulled off a miraculous comeback in Game 4, when we were down 15 with a couple minutes left, and then they did the exact same thing. It didn't look pretty and when [Ronnie] Brewer made that three to go up 12, I think everybody thought that the Bulls might have had it, but it was just an unbelievable comeback. LeBron had two threes and Dwyane had a three and-one. It just shows you how explosive they are and how dangerous they are. They're very good defensively so they can come back at any time."
Dirk expects Miami to eventually deploy a small lineup, just as they did against Chicago at times, moving LeBron James to the power forward position.
"I'm sure they're going to go small," Nowitzki said. "Oklahoma City did it here in the last game here and really chunked the game up and had some success doing it. I think they're not going to start that way but sooner or later, we're going to be ready for a smaller lineup. I think we can be fine with smaller lineups. We've got a deep bench and we have shown that we can adjust to a lot of lineups and I think we can match up with basically anything that's thrown at us."
Nowitzki has already had an illustrious career, but this could be his final opportunity to carve his name alongside the game's greatest players and silence the critics that use his bare knuckles to discredit his body of work. This time around, he's hungrier than ever and hopes to deliver a performance he can watch over and over again."
Posted 31 May 2011 - 07:18 PM
Dallas Mavericks vs. Miami Heat: A tale of two cities, and of expectations.
The Dallas Mavericks face the Miami Heat Tuesday night at Miami's American Airlines Arena in Game 1 of the NBA Finals. The game will be televised, starting at 8 p.m., Central time, on ABC.
By Christopher Hartman,Contributor./
"The Miami Heat, for all their bluster last summer about the number of championships they were going to win and talk about assembling the “greatest team” in NBA history, have gone about this season – and postseason – in a workmanlike fashion.
They owned a 58-24 regular season record, securing the second seed in the NBA Eastern Conference, and handily dispatched the Philadelphia 76ers, Boston Celtics, and the Chicago Bulls, owners of the league’s best record, in the the first three rounds of the playoffs. They are relatively young, and, rumors of an injury to Dwyane Wade’s shoulder notwithstanding, are largely healthy.
On the other hand, the Dallas Mavericks, with an average player age of 33, are one of the oldest teams in the NBA, and have had to struggle through two post-season series against Portland and Oklahoma City – though along the way they completely humiliated the
They have matured as a group to the point where they fight through double-digit deficits to win where previously they might not have. The Mavs, with a 57-25 regular season record, are nearly evenly matched with the Heat, though Dallas won the two regular season meetings between the two teams.
They’ve accomplished much, even without the services of one of their very strongest players, guard-forward Caron Butler, who is not expected to see any action in the Finals. Jason Terry, in an interview earlier this week, said the team is dedicating their pursuit of the NBA title to Butler.
The Heat largely play a perimeter game. They love head fakes, and drawing fouls near or beyond the arc. They also are very fast off the transition, where LeBron James and Dwyane Wade excel in an open path to the bucket with virtually unparalleled athleticism. They have not been as strong inside the paint, where the Mavericks tend to excel.
Dirk Nowitzki, the Mavericks strong forward/center, can score from anywhere, and he is particularly strong at drawing fouls after posting up his defenders. When the two teams met in Dallas last November, the Mavericks won 106-95 - largely through the 48 points they scored in the paint. They will need to keep that pace up this series."
Posted 31 May 2011 - 07:21 PM
Mavericks seek championship salvation.
By CLARENCE E. HILL JR.
"If iron sharpens iron, then what does collective misery wrought?
Apparently enough joint motivation for a potential magical and redemptive title run.
This is the story of the 2011 Dallas Mavericks, a band of tortured current and former superstars who are on the brink of unprecedented success as a group that they were unable to achieve individually.
Forward Dirk Nowitzki, guard Jason Terry, guard Peja Stojakovic, guard Jason Kidd, forward Shawn Marion and coach Rick Carlisle, all linked by postseason misery, face the Miami Heat in the NBA Finals starting tonight, looking for deliverance and championship salvation.
"All of us have unique stories," said Terry, one of just two players, along with Nowitzki, remaining from the Mavericks team that lost to the Heat in the 2006 NBA Finals. "That is what is driving us. It's why we get this done this year."
For Terry and Nowitzki, the pain is obvious and known by all.
Leading 2-0 against the Heat in the 2006 Finals, they seemed to be on their way to taking an insurmountable 3-0 lead en route to a much-coveted title.
But that was when the bottom fell out, as the Mavericks managed just one basket in the final five minutes of the game, allowing Miami to come back from a 13-point fourth-quarter deficit. Nowitzki missed a key free throw in the waning moments and Dallas couldn't get any stops.
The Heat won the game and the next three to complete a backdoor sweep for the title.
Their pain has seemingly reverberated since as, instead of making quick amends, the twosome have watched the Mavericks suffer first-round playoff exits in three of the past four years.
"It's been a long stretch here," said Nowitzki, a 13-year veteran. "A year after we lost in the Finals, we came back and won almost 70 games and lost in the first round. That was another tough one. We tried to go back and always fell short.
"It feels good to finally get back. This time, hopefully, we can finish the job. We've got a bunch of veterans with a bunch of unique stories. We want to get the job done together."
Terry, a 12-year veteran, said he has never gotten over 2006. Their failure has been the proverbial elephant in the room for him and Nowitzki ever since.
"We never talked about trying to get back," Terry said of his conversations with Nowitzki. "We talked about when we do, what is going to happen. The talk is done now. We finally got back. The show is on. It's time to finish our business."
Unfinished business is certainly the story for Kidd, the team's oldest player at age 38, who is looking to put a cap on what has already been a Hall of Fame career.
His mournful plight includes losses in back-to-back NBA Finals in 2002 and 2003 to the Los Angeles Lakers and San Antonio Spurs while with the New Jersey Nets. The losses were offset by the promise of future opportunities.
The runner-up finishes came in his first two years with the Nets after previous stints with the Mavericks and Phoenix Suns.
But the 10-time All-Star and 17-year veteran never made it back to the conference championship until this season.
"The first time was a just a quick show," Kidd said. "We were happy to be there, and we got swept by the Lakers. The second time, we felt we had an opportunity, but we lost to the better team in San Antonio. When you think about it, you say, 'I'm going back there,' but it never happened. You forget you are going to get older and there is going to be a younger guy that is talented, and teams are going to be better. I'm going to enjoy this moment and try to win a championship."
Then there's 13-year veteran Peja Stojakovic, who came to the Mavericks during a late regular-season trade to give them another scoring option off the bench.
But there was a time when Stojakovic, not Nowitzki, was arguably considered the best European player in the NBA.
A decade ago, he was the leading man, along with Chris Webber, of the high-flying Sacramento Kings.
Stojakovic and the Kings finished with the league's best record in 2002, but lost to the two-time defending champion Lakers in a controversial seven-game series in the conference finals.
"Of course, this is unfinished business," Stojakovic said. "I'm enjoying my situation here in Dallas. We all understand what we have been through, the situation we are in right now and how rarely these opportunities come around."
Like Stojakovic, Marion has the frustration of being part of some of the best teams in the league to have never even appeared in the NBA Finals. That was when he was starring for the Suns, earning the nickname of the Matrix for his dynamic play. But they lost back-to-back Western Conference Finals to the Spurs and Mavericks in 2005 and 2006.
Marion, a 12-year veteran, said it's frustrating to think he is at this point without his former Phoenix teammates after all their success and ultimate failures.
"We are hungry," Marion said. "People can play for 20 years and never get to this point. We are fortunate. We are going to make the best of it. It's a team thing. We are so competitive."
Carlisle is tortured by his own championship failings, losing twice in the Eastern Conference Finals as a coach with the Detroit Pistons and Indiana Pacers. Even more frustrating is that he was fired in Detroit because they didn't think he was the right man to lead them to a title. Adding insult to injury was the Pistons winning the title two years later with Larry Brown manning the sideline.
Now Carlisle is in Dallas, reaching the championship round for the first time as coach, and looking to prove he is title worthy.
"It's a great opportunity," Carlisle said. "I'm looking forward to it."
Ironically, the tortured group believes it is better now because of its failures. It has allowed them to be singularly focused, putting individual accomplishments aside for team success.
"We have a bunch of unique stories," Nowitzki said. "But if you want to win, you've got to sacrifice. This is a bunch of veterans who want to play and are unselfish. That's what makes this group special - everybody sacrificing for each other and just wanting to win. It's been fun to play with these guys. Hopefully, we can finish the job."
Said Stojakovic: "There are a lot of special players here. A lot of guys have been to the Finals and have had great careers. But everything is focused on team success. You have to throw the individual achievement aside and fight for a championship. It's a great accomplishment."
Posted 31 May 2011 - 07:27 PM
May 31 Heat-vs-DALLAS MAVERICKS.
For the Mavericks, Game 1 of the 2011 Championship playoffs against the
May 31(Tuesday)----Opponent---Time-----Channel TV----------Radio.
ABC has the TV broadcast rights for the 2011 NBA Finals. The schedule is as follows:
Game 1 May 31,2011 (8:00)(Tuesday)
Game 2 June 2,2011 (8:00)(Thursday)
Game 3 June 5,2011 (7:00)(Sunday)
Game 4 June 7,2011 (8:00)(Tuesday)
Game 5 * June 9,2011 (8:00)(Thursday)
Game 6 * June 12,2011 (7:00)(Sunday)
Game 7 * June 14,2011 (8:00)(Tuesday)
*If necessary for the
Posted 31 May 2011 - 07:34 PM
Game 1 –Tue May 31, Dallas at
Game 2 –Thur June 2, Dallas at
Game 3 –Sun June 5,
Game 4 –Tue June 7,
Game 5*-Thur June 9,
Game 6*–Sun June 12, Dallas at
Game 7*–Tue June 14, Dallas at
*If necessary for the
Posted 31 May 2011 - 07:37 PM
May 31 Heat-vs-DALLAS MAVERICKS.
For the Mavericks, Game 1 of the 2011 Championship playoffs against the
May 31(Tuesday)----Opponent---Time-----Channel TV----------Radio.
ABC has the TV broadcast rights for the 2011 NBA Finals.
The schedule is as follows:
Game 1 May 31,2011 (8:00)(Tuesday).Dallas at
Game 2 June 2,2011 (8:00)(Thursday)Dallas at
Game 3 June 5,2011 (7:00)(Sunday)..
Game 4 June 7,2011 (8:00)(Tuesday).
Game 5 * June 9,2011 (8:00)(Thursday)
Game 6 * June 12,2011 (7:00)(Sunday)..Dallas at
Game 7 * June 14,2011 (8:00)(Tuesday)Dallas at
*If necessary for the
Posted 31 May 2011 - 07:41 PM
2011 NBA Finals fan preview: Miami Heat vs. Dallas Mavericks.
By Mark Hawkins, Yahoo! Contributor Network.
"Both the Dallas Mavericks and Miami Heat appeared in the NBA Finals for the first time in 2006. Now five years later, they meet again in each team's second trip to the Finals.
Dallas won the 2011 Western Conference Championship by defeating the Portland Trail Blazers, Los Angeles Lakers and Oklahoma City Thunder. The Heat earned their second Finals appearance by beating the Philadelphia 76ers, Boston Celtics and Chicago Bulls.
In the 2006 NBA Finals, the Mavericks won the first two games and held a 13-point lead, 89-76, with 6:33 remaining in Game 3, before the Heat got too hot for Dallas to bear. The Mavericks lost Game 3, 98-96, and dropped Games 4, 5 and 6 as well. The Miami Heat won the series 4-2 and celebrated their first NBA Championship on Dallas' home floor while the Mavericks could do nothing but watch.
At the conclusion of the 2011 NBA Finals, Dirk Nowitzki and the Dallas Mavericks hope to be the ones celebrating. The Mavericks will get a chance to replace their current Finals memories with new ones beginning May 31.
In order for the Dallas Mavericks to win their first NBA Championship in franchise history, they will have to win at least one game at Miami's AmericanAirlines Arena. Dallas and their high-powered offense are currently riding a five-game road-winning streak in the playoffs and have won at least one road game in each of their three prior playoff series. If the Mavericks can continue to produce wins on the road in the NBA Finals, they will give themselves a great chance at winning the championship.
Led by Dirk Nowitzki (51.7% from the field and 51.6% from the three-point line), the Dallas offense has scored a remarkably efficient 111.2 points per 100 possessions during the playoffs. Dallas' offensive efficiency is predicated on their great ball movement. For the playoffs, the Mavericks are averaging 20.9 assists per game. The way that they spread the floor and move the ball makes any Maverick on the floor a threat to score. In addition to Nowitzki, five other Mavericks (Jose Juan Barea, Jason Kidd, Shawn Marion, Peja Stojakovic and Jason Terry) have scored more than 20 points in a playoff game this year.
For all their offensive prowess, Dallas would not have made it to the NBA Finals without playing solid defense as well. During the regular season, they allowed their opponents to shoot 45% from the field and 34.3% from the three-point line. During the playoffs, the Mavericks have improved those numbers to 44.6% and 26.2% respectively. If they want to become the 2011 NBA Champions, Dallas will have to maintain their offensive efficiency and play solid defense against LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and the Miami Heat.
If the Heat want to win another NBA Championship, they will have to snap the Mavericks' five-game road-winning streak. Stopping Dallas begins with stopping Dirk Nowitzki. During the streak, Nowitzki has averaged 28.6 points while shooting 52.1% from the field. In order for Miami to beat the Mavericks, they will have to make Nowitzki an inefficient scorer and limit the effectiveness of Dallas' shooters. Joel Anthony, Chris Bosh, Udonis Haslem and LeBron James will all get their turns at defending the 7-foot German with the sweet shooting stroke. If that group can slow Nowitzki while the other Heat defenders close out on the shooters, Miami will give themselves a chance at snapping Dallas' playoffs road-winning streak.
Offensively, Miami will have to move the ball from side to side whenever the Mavericks set up their 2-3 matchup zone. If the Heat, who are averaging just 15.3 assists per game during the playoffs, wind up in too many James and Wade isolations, they will have difficulty penetrating Dallas' zone.
The key to this series will be bench production. The team that gets the biggest offensive boost from their bench will have the advantage. During the playoffs, Dallas' bench has averaged 41.4 points per game on 46.1% shooting from the field and 42.3% from beyond the three-point arc. The Miami bench has produced 25.2 points on 39.3% and 34.5% respectively. The Dallas reserves have also assisted more (8.0 versus 4.2) and made more free throws (5.2 versus 3.7) than their Miami counterparts have while playing fewer minutes (95.9 versus 101.7).
Defense wins championships, but Dallas' ability to make shots may prove to be the difference in the 2011 NBA Finals. As long as the Mavericks can make shots while maintaining their defensive principles, they will have a slight edge in this series.
Prediction: Mavericks 4-2.
Mark is a lifelong fan of the NBA who has loved the game of basketball ever since his first trip to an NBA arena. Mark has watched more basketball games than anyone can count and has more than 100 articles about the NBA published on the internet.
Information from Basketball-Reference's NBA Playoff Index, ESPN's Dallas Mavericks 2011 Schedule, Miami Heat 2011 Schedule, Dallas Mavericks vs. Miami Heat—Play By Play—June 13, 2006, Dallas Mavericks 2011 Statistics, Hollinger's NBA Team Stats, Jose Juan Barea Game By Game Stats, Jason Kidd Game By Game Stats, Shawn Marion Game By Game Stats, Dirk Nowitzki Game By Game Stats, Peja Stojakovic Game By Game Stats, Jason Terry Game By Game Stats, 2010-11 Regular Season NBA Team Stats, 2010-11 Postseason NBA Team Stats and Miami Heat 2011 Statistics was used for this article.
Note: This article was written by a Yahoo! contributor.
Posted 31 May 2011 - 07:42 PM
By BRIAN MAHONEY.
MIAMI (AP)"LeBron James and Dwyane Wade joked often, smiled easily, answered thoughtfully.
A few minutes later, Dirk Nowitzki bounded up to a podium and offered a big "How we doin!" to the assembled media.
You'd never know only one of them is a "good guy."
Less than a year after solidifying their place as the NBA's villains with their high-profile partnership last summer, James, Wade and the Miami Heat are in the NBA finals against the Dallas Mavericks and Nowitzki, being portrayed as a sort of anti-James for sticking with his home team instead of taking the easy way out and going elsewhere for a better shot at a title.
And if you hated the theatrics of last summer, the light shows, pep rally, and everything else Miami did to celebrate winning the championship of July, better look away. The Heat are just four wins from the first of several titles that many predicted when James bolted Cleveland for South Florida.
The way it happened bothered plenty, but James only cares about the result.
"You know, we've got a lot of flack this year, mostly because of myself. And we've tried to use that as motivation every day we get on the basketball court," James said Monday. "But just play the game of basketball. That's all we can do is play the game of basketball at a high level. Play Miami Heat basketball."
Five years after Wade largely overwhelmed the Mavericks by himself to win the Heat's first championship, the teams arrive at Game 1 of the rematch Tuesday through decidedly different constructions. The Heat essentially sacrificed seasons for salary-cap space, making the playoffs through Wade's greatness but with no realistic chance of winning. But the gamble paid off in July, when James and Chris Bosh agreed to come and Wade committed to stay, giving Miami the Nos. 1, 2 and 3 players on perhaps the greatest free-agency list in NBA history.
Nowitzki's name was on it, too, and he even said he would have listened if had James and Wade tried to recruit him. His preference was to remain in Dallas, as long as owner Mark Cuban would do what it takes to give the big German another shot at a ring.
"Ultimately, that's where my heart was at. I almost felt like we had unfinished business after '06," Nowitzki said. "Had a great meeting with Mark there, free agency. All I needed was reassurance that he was going to keep going and keep building around this team, and keep putting all his resources for us to hopefully be up there one day. We're here again at the big stage. Hopefully we can turn it around this year and finish strong."
With reliable role players such as Jason Kidd, Jason Terry and Shawn Marion but no defined second scorer, the Mavericks arrived in the postseason as an afterthought, maybe even a first-round upset loser to Portland. Instead, a stunning sweep of the Lakers in the second round was followed by Nowitzki's spectacular play against Oklahoma City in the Western Conference finals, making the Mavs the last hope for the Heat haters who wanted Boston or Chicago to humble Miami.
"We are facing a very tough team, a very good team with a bunch of closers and leaders. And so we've got to just go from there and bring our best game," Nowitzki said. "But we as players, we're not really worried about who are the good guys or the bad guys, what the fans want. That's not going to matter to us, anyhow."
Nowitzki believed the Heat were the favorites "on paper" last summer, but things changed by the time they met twice in the first two months of the season. Dallas beat Miami both times - the Mavs have won the last 14 regular-season meetings - as the Heat stumbled to a 9-8 start amid speculation coach Erik Spoelstra could be fired, and criticism that James' and Wade's styles couldn't work together.
The Heat have it all figured out now: James and Wade alternating big shots in the clutch, Bosh grasping his role as the third scorer, key reserves Udonis Haslem and Mike Miller getting healthy at just the right time after nearly season-long injuries.
So the Heat could win, like it or not. And they're aware the more likely answer is not.
Wade was briefly the NBA's brightest star in 2006, when he averaged 34.7 points to lead the Heat back from a 2-0 deficit to beat the Mavs in six games. A second ring could elevate him to a second level - or it could be diminished because he needed James and Bosh to get it.
"Only thing I care about is winning. That's all I care about," Wade said. "Whatever you guys want to decide to put me or talk about me, that's where I'll be. The biggest thing is to be a champion."
Wade said he was "blessed" to win a ring so early in his career, knowing this series is loaded with players who have been chasing one for more than a decade. Kidd reached the finals in consecutive years with the New Jersey Nets and figured he'd get another chance with the Nets or much sooner with the Mavericks. He's finally back - the oldest of seven players on the Dallas roster born in the 1970s.
"You have great teams in this league like the Lakers and the Celtics and San Antonio, who were all winning championships. It didn't work out," he said. "But now we're here. And hopefully we can find a way to win a championship."
James had only once chance and his Cavaliers were quickly swept aside by the Spurs. That was back in 2007, a small-market matchup that drew the lowest TV ratings ever for the finals.
That won't be the case now.
The Heat's free-agency score brought unprecedented attention to the NBA's offseason, a new wave of fans to a sport that needs them with a labor crisis looming when this series is over.
People may not like the Heat, but they can't stop watching.
"It's probably going to get the highest-rated finals, maybe ever. Just because of what they were assembled to do, and then the team that we have, I think it makes for great TV," Terry said."
Posted 01 June 2011 - 05:57 PM
Mark Cuban, staying silent.
For Once, Letting His Team Do the Talking.
By HOWARD BECK.
David Stern mum on Mark Cuban's silence
Comments By Jeff Caplan.
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