Two of them were the only survivors of their last appearance on the grandest stage where they were a part of an embarrassing meltdown and lost. One of led his previous team to the biggest stage twice, and still lost. Two others came one step short of the NBA Finals. They also had a coach who took two different teams into the Finals, but still fell short. No one else on the current team had won it before.
Individually, they are talented and experienced, but have always come up short. Collectively, they have put together an incredible run this season, despite all criticisms, ending it with a sensational first-ever Championship.
Sounds like a fairytale Hollywood script? Not anymore. The Dallas Mavericks achieved just that a few hours ago when they beat the Miami Heat 105-95 in Game 6 on their own floor to win the series 4-2. Ironically, it was the Heat who beat the Mavericks 4-2 in 2006, clinching win no. 4 on Dallas’ home court, the last time both of these teams landed in the NBA Finals. I guess I was right when I said it before Game 1 began…this is the NBA: Where Redemption Happens…
This entire season was about resilience. And the Mavs sure had plenty of it, especially in the playoffs. When they were matched up against the Miami Heat in the Finals, they were clearly the underdogs. The Heat is a team that was customised to win it all this season. When LeBron James and Chris Bosh made that decision to join Dwayne Wade to pursue Championship rings, the world of basketball shivered with fear. Seriously.
Many were expecting the ageing legs of the veteran Dallas team would not be able to keep up with Miami, but boy did they do it. And then some. After dominating Game 1 in Miami, the Heat began to think this would actually be their season.The in Game 2, with 7 mins remaining in the 4Q, Miami took a 15 point lead, and things were looking gloomy for Dallas. Then Dirk happened. Leading the way, the Mavs furiously rallied to win 95-93 and the series was tied.
The classic went back to Dallas for Games 3-5 and Game 3 seemed to take off where Game 2 ended. Miami dominated again in 3Qs, but allowed Dallas to shine in the 4Q again, but this time the Mavs fell short as the Heat squeak out a 88-86 victory. Down 1-2, Dallas managed to manufacture yet another rally in the 4Q to win 86-83, capping one of the closest 3 consecutive games in the finals EVER. And to top it off, Dirk actually played with a high fever throughout the game. Series tied again 2-2
The it came down to Game 5, where stats showed how important this game was. The winning team in Game 5 had quite a good wining percentage to win it. Although LeBron scored a triple double, it was Nowitzki taking over in the fourth…again! Securing a 112-103 shootout, the Mavs were suddenly one game away from the Championship, but they still had to travel back to Miami to finish the job. Dallas leads 3-2.
Game 6 was such nailbiter everyone expected. Both teams held leads and lost them. Miami started to crack under pressure as they missed shot after shot, be it free throws or 3PT shooting. Although Dirk started poorly, it was the deep, deep Dallas bench that kept the game tight and close. The Mavs silently pulled away and eventually prevailed 105-95. Incredible stuff.
Dirk Nowitzki deservedly won the Finals MVP, remarkably so since he performed extraordinarily in all 4Qs, scoring an almost impossible 62 points only in all 4Qs for the all 6 games. I don’t think I have seen anyone scoring double digit 4Q points in all Final games. Hail Dirk…Mr Clutch, for finally winning it. Jason Kidd finally got one too. After coming up short with New Jersey, this 38-year old veteran wil become the oldest starting point guard to win a championship. As with Jason Terry, another veteran who was part of the disastrous Miami team in 2006, showed much heart in stepping up his game and carried the team in the decisive Game 6 for 3Qs before Dirk took over again.
At the end of it, I believe Dallas won it all simply because they had more hunger after their previous failures and also more experienced in handling the pressure of the Finals. Even before the Finals, Dallas has shown they had been resilient in beating the young and athletic Portland Trailblazers, ruthless in dismantling the Lakers and steady in overcoming the young Oklahoma City Thunder.
There were so many games throughout the Mavs’ playoff run that they rallied and rallied and eventually pulling out a victory. And if there was one turning point of Dallas’ championship run, I would pick Game 4 vs Portland where the Trailblazers overcame a 23-point 3Q deficit to beat the Mavs 84-82 to tie the series 2-2, sowing more doubts in the hearts of Dallas and accentuating their choker tag further. Not the Mavs of this season. They bounced back to win the next two games to beat Portland 4-2. The way the Mavs bounced back from that heartbreaking game 4 vs Portland gave me confidence that the Mavs were definitely for real this time round.
In my parting shot, all I wanna say to Dirk, Kidd, Terry, Marion, Chandler, Barea, coach Carlisle and the rest of the Mavs team – THANK YOU for an unforgettable and amazing season and congrats on winning that elusive NBA Championship. I’m just so happy for everyone on the Mavs roster who finally won a Championship ring. Your journey here has been nothing short of inspirational to me.
Here’s the mini movie of Game 6 that I will forever remember…