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Series MVP Dirk Nowitzki
Q. Dirk, you can be honest with us now, is this any sweeter because you got it done in Miami?
DIRK NOWITZKI: Oh, man, I don't know. I mean, obviously that was one of my most disappointing losses in my career, to lose the Final series after being up 2-0. It took so long just to get here. I don't really know if it would have made a difference. Just this feeling to be on the best team of the world is just undescribable.
Q. Dirk, you know that the greatest players are defined by championships. Do you feel like that monkey is finally off your back?
DIRK NOWITZKI: I don't really think that way right now. If you're in this league for 13 years of just battling and playoffs last basically ten years, 11 years, and always coming up a little short. That's why this is extra special.
If I would have won one early in my career, maybe I would have never put all the work and the time in that I have over the last 13 years. So this feels amazing.
I'm happy for Kidd. What a warrior he is at 38, chasing the most athletic players in this league out there and doing a great job on him, and also leading our squad. He's been in this league forever and had two chances. Just an unbelievable team. I said it all season long. We had great chemistry with the guys. We had fun in the locker room, on the buses and stuff. So this is a special group. We're world champions. It sounds unbelievable.
Q. Mr. Kidd, you've been on a few teams for a few years in this league. What set this one apart and enabled it to win a championship?
JASON KIDD: I think adversity. We got off to a great start at the beginning of the season. Dirk was playing, if not at an MVP-type season, and then we lose Caron and Dirk. And so everybody wrote us off but ourselves. I think going through that period where we lost six in a row and looked at each other and said we got to find a way, because those two aren't coming back anytime soon. Guys stepped up, and we turned it around.
I think just going through the journey of those injuries made us a better team, because we had to do a lineup change, and then we did the lineup change during The Finals. And we didn't skip a beat. We just kept playing. That just shows the character of this team. No matter how old you are, we understood how to play the game, by passing the ball and making sure that we didn't take shots where three or four guys are on you. We just made the extra pass. We didn't care who put the ball in the basket.
Q. You've accomplished so much in your career. Talk about finally adding that championship to all of the great individual things that you've done.
JASON KIDD: Man, it's a dream come true. It's not real right now, because just the battles against the Heat and understanding the journey, it's been a long journey for 17 years. I thought I had an opportunity in '03 to win a championship, and I was on the other end; we lost to the Spurs.
My teammates, their character and their will to come every day and work to get better, they deserve all the credit. And so I'm just happy to be at the right place at the right time.
Q. Considering all that you went through this past summer and all the effort you made to get here to specifically win a championship, what are your emotions losing The Finals now?
LeBRON JAMES: It hurts of course. I'm not going to hang my head low. I know how much work as a team we put into it. I know how much work individually that I've put into it, when you guys are not around. That's something people don't see. I think you can never hang your head low when you know how much work, how much dedication you put into the game of basketball when the lights are off and the cameras are not on.
Q. Does it bother you that so many people are happy to see you fail?
LeBRON JAMES: Absolutely not. Because at the end of the day, all the people that was rooting on me to fail, at the end of the day they have to wake up tomorrow and have the same life that they had before they woke up today. They have the same personal problems they had today. I'm going to continue to live the way I want to live and continue to do the things that I want to do with me and my family and be happy with that.
They can get a few days or a few months or whatever the case may be on being happy about not only myself, but the Miami Heat not accomplishing their goal, but they have to get back to the real world at some point.
Dallas coach Rick Carlisle
This is a special team. This is the most special team that I've ever been around, because it's not about what you can't do; it's about what you can do. It's not about what your potential short-comings are; it's what we could accomplish as a group together. And it was just phenomenal to be around them. In my third year, I've learned so much from these guys. Especially Jason Kidd. His view of the game is so different, and he's savant-like. He's just been a thrill and a privilege to spend time with him.
I don't think there's any doubt after this series that Dirk has certainly earned the clout of being one of the all-time great players. His versatility, how he's done it in the clutch. He goes 1-for-12 in the first half, and then in the second half he was just absolute money.
Q. Do you think you set an example maybe that other teams can follow or are the attributes and adjectives you described this team so rare that maybe we won't see another Dallas Mavericks?
COACH RICK CARLISLE: This is one of the really unique teams. This is my opinion now. This is one of the unique teams in NBA history. Because it wasn't about high-flying star power. Come on, how often do we have to hear about the LeBron James reality show and what he is or isn't doing? When are people going to talk about the purity of our game and what these guys accomplished? That's what's special. And I played with Larry Bird, I played with Bill Walton, I played with Robert Parish, I played with Dennis Johnson. I played with the all-time greats. And Dirk is up there with that upper, upper echelon of great players.
He's arguably the most unique players in the history of the game. Because there's never been a seven-foot player that has developed his skill and his resourcefulness for being able to find ways to score. And he's also a very underrated defensive player. When he wasn't on the floor, our defense suffered as well.
I'm so proud of what our team stood for. I kept having people come up to me the last three or four days, "Hey, there's billions of people rooting for you guys. There's billions of people rooting for you guys." And we could feel it. We could feel it. We knew it was very important that we won this series for those reasons. Because of what the game is about, and what the game should stand for. And I'm so, so proud to be a small part of that.
The Dallas Mavericks are NBA Champions and the rest of the basketball world outside of Miami couldn't be happier about it.
The gritty Mavs capped off their improbable championship run with a ten point victory in Miami. It was a complete team effort tonight as Dirk Nowitzki struggled, going only 9-27 from the field and finishing with 21 points. Jason Terry led the way with 27 points, Jose Barea added 15 and Shawn Marion had 12 points. Dallas was in control for most of the night and Miami never managed to make a run late in the game.
The big three went out with a whimper and not a bang. LeBron James had 21 points but was quiet throughout the fourth quarter. Dwyane Wade struggled all night and only had 17 points. Chris Bosh had 19 points.
Much more to come throughout the day...
The 2011 NBA Finals resume Sunday night as the Miami Heat host the Dallas Mavericks in Game 6. The Mavericks, who defeated the Heat, 112-103, Thursday night, lead the series 3-2 and just need one more victory to win the best-of-seven series. The Heat, who had a 2-1 series lead before dropping games four and five in Dallas, need to find a way to take full advantage of their superior talent.
Mavs' forward Dirk Nowitzki, who's averaging 27.0 points and 9.4 rebounds per game in the finals, has been outstanding all playoffs long. Meanwhile, the Heat's superstar Lebron James -- just eight points in Game 4, a triple-double in Game 5 -- has been inconsistent. It also will be interesting to see how James' teammate, Dewayne Wade, will play after suffering a hip injury early in Game 5.
If you'd like to catch the game tonight (8 p.m. on ABC) here's the series' TV schedule and past results:
Here are some of the post-game reactions from the 112-103 victory by the Dallas Mavericks over the Miami Heat in Game 5 of the 2011 NBA Finals Thursday night. Dallas leads the best-of-seven series, 3-2.
Dallas guard Jason Terry
Q. Jet, you've really stepped up in the fourth quarter of the last two games, but specifically tonight those three-pointers closing it out, how much did you take the responsibility on instead of just putting it on Dirk?
JASON TERRY: It's my job. All season long, ever since I've been a Maverick, I've been the guy in the fourth quarter they depended on to either make plays or make shots. So I really relish in that role. Regardless of what's going on throughout three quarters of the game, in the fourth quarter I know I'm depended on to come through. Thank God I was able to do that again tonight.
Q. Jason, you said you needed to treat Game 5 like it was Game 7. Now, do you feel you need to treat Game 6 like it is Game 7 in order to avoid the actual Game 7?
JASON TERRY: Sounds repetitive, but yes. Game 6 is Game 7 for us. We want to play like there's no tomorrow. If we do that, I have no doubt in my mind we can be successful. We must come out aggressively.
Tonight was great. We came out offensively and found our rhythm. Defensively we took a step backwards. We didn't have the same focus on certain areas in the game for 48 minutes. And so I said if we can get to 100, we like our chances. We did that, but we definitely don't want to give them 100 points. Because then it leaves the window of opportunity for them to get a win.
Miami coach Erik Spoelstra
Q. What's the feeling of being one game away from elimination?
COACH ERIK SPOELSTRA: We look at it the other way. We're going home, and we wouldn't have it any other way than the hard way. This is an opportunity for us. That's why you play a seven-game series. You got to play it out. And this is where we feel comfortable.
Dallas forward Dirk Nowitzki
Q. Dirk, can you talk about being one win away from a championship?
DIRK NOWITZKI: Yeah, I mean that was a big win for us, obviously. We didn't want to go to Miami and give them basically two shots to close us out. So kept plugging there in the fourth. So definitely a big win for us. And now we have to go down there and basically approach Sunday's game as Game 7. You don't want to give this great team any hope or anything.
So we got to play more of the same and keep attacking and we'll see what happens Sunday.
Miami's Dwyane Wade
Q. Dwyane, can you take us through your injury and the challenge you had getting back on the floor both times.
DWYANE WADE: You know, I'm not going to do that. I don't talk about injuries. It was unfortunate I had to leave the game. But I came back and I finished it.
Q. Was it really hard to play through that?
DWYANE WADE: No, once you're on the court, you're on the court. I don't have no excuses. I was on the court. I was able to help my team get an opportunity to win. And I'll be fine Sunday.
Dallas coach Rick Carlisle
Q. Rick, can we get your thoughts just being one win away from a world championship now.
COACH RICK CARLISLE: Well, we've got to just continue to work the process, and for us the process is being in a stance, being tied together, being really tight defensively, because they're great players and put unbelievable pressure on you.
We understand where we're at, but we also understand what got us here, and that is making sure we stay in the moment.
Q. Going back to Miami, sure you have two opportunities to win one, but talk about how important it is to get that first one and not have it go to a seventh game on their court.
COACH RICK CARLISLE: Again, I just would say to you that we're going to stay in the moment and we're going to just keep studying how we play our best. We're going to play whistle to whistle. I heard that term. Been watching the hockey series. A lot of the people in the hockey world use that term. And that's what we're going to do. We're going to try to win each possession and just take it one at a time.
An NBA Finals is a 16-day deal or whatever it is. And it's very long, but somehow or other it goes by fast. By staying in the moment and just really focusing on what's important for us, that helps us.
It is always fun when the bad guys lose.
The Dallas Mavericks seized control of the NBA Finals Thursday night with a 112-103 victory over the Miami Heat and are now one game away from a championship. Led by Dirk Nowitzki and Jason Terry, the Mavericks pulled away in the final minutes as the Heat struggled to keep pace with a banged up Dwyane Wade and LeBron James having another quiet fourth quarter.
Wade suffered a hip injury in the first half but still managed to have 10 of his 23 points in the fourth quarter, while James only chipped in two points on a meaningless lay-up late in the game. James did register a triple-double with 17 points, 10 rebounds, and 10 assists but it will likely be overshadowed by yet another no-show in crunch time. Chris Bosh finished with 19 points and 10 rebounds and Mario Chalmers knocked down four three-pointers en route to finishing with 15 points.
For the Mavericks, Nowitzki came up big again with 29 points and received plenty of help down the stretch from Terry and Jason Kidd who both hit huge three pointers. Terry finished with 21 points and Kidd had 13. J.J Barea also finally got going on offense and chipped in 17 points.
Game 6 is Sunday night in Miami, where the Mavericks will look to wrap up their first-ever NBA Championship and make the entire basketball world outside of Miami very happy.
The Dallas Mavericks and Miami Heat have slugged their way through four hotly contested games in the 2011 NBA Finals, the last three of which have been decided in each game's final possession. Game 5 tips off Thursday night at 9 p.m. ET on ABC. This is the final game of the series that will be held in Dallas. Game 6 and, if necessary, Game 7 will be played in Miami.
Mavericks star Dirk Nowitzki knows exactly what that means for his team:
"You don't want to give them two chances to close it out at home, so this is our Game 7 and the last home game for this year in this building," Nowitzki said. "It should be a great atmosphere and hopefully we can pull it out."
After a game in which he scored only eight points and was seemingly invisible it will be interesting to see how aggressive Miami superstar LeBron James is Thursday night.
The series schedule and TV information are below.
It is infuriating watching talent go to waste, which is why LeBron James NBA Finals performance has been so disappointing. Can he change the direction of this series and his legacy over the next few games?
Here are some post-game reactions from the Dallas Mavericks 86-83 victory over the Miami Heat Tuesday night in Game 4 of the 2011 NBA Finals, a win that evened this amazingly tight series at 2-2.
Miami coach Erik Spoelstra
This series is a jump ball. Every single game. And they outplayed us obviously there in the fourth quarter. And we didn’t take care of our business on both ends of the court. We did not execute with a level of efficiency or trust, and we had a couple of breakdowns, even though we had the eight or nine straight stops there in the fourth, we were not efficient enough offensively.
So here we are. We’re four games into this. Both teams have done what they needed to do. Both teams have won on the road one game. However you get to this point. And that’s what we’ll focus on next, Game 5, the swing game.
Q. Erik, just 14 points in the fourth quarter. Was it their zone that caught you guys off guard? Or did your offense just kind of fall apart?
COACH ERIK SPOELSTRA: You have to give them credit, their defense is good. This is a possession series. Both teams are getting after it. This is what it’s all about. We’ll be better in Game 5. And certainly our efficiency and execution going down the stretch. We have had a great run in the playoffs. We have had a couple where we’ve stumbled. And they have a lot to do with that. Their defense, making plays. But it’s about trusting and moving the ball and being efficient. We had six turnovers I believe in the fourth quarter. We were very uncharacteristic going down the stretch.
Q. Dirk, went a little bit early to the right for the lay-up, which put you guys up initially. Walk us through that.
DIRK NOWITZKI: Really, I was going to play the clock down, but I saw I had a little opening there. So I just went for it. I just went for it. Was able to rip through and go to the right. They really played my left, which obviously the whole league does. So I was able to rip through and get to my right and finally finish a lay-up. I thought I missed four or five good looks around the rim today. Kind of bounced around, bounced out. So that was unfortunate, but I was able to get one in. So that was good.
Q. Dirk, is Game 5 a must-win for you? Can you talk about the defensive effort as a team you played on LeBron James. Held him to eight points on 3 of 11.
DIRK NOWITZKI: Yeah, I think our base did a good job helping on the screen-and-rolls. So that was big.
And obviously, yeah, we would love to get Game 5 here. Don’t want to go to Miami down 3-2, knowing they have two chances to close us out. Big game Thursday. Like I said, I thought our defense won us the game. To give up 14 points to an explosive team with LeBron, with Bosh and Wade on one team, if you give up 14 points in the quarter to close it out, I think that’s huge.
So hopefully we can carry that defense over into Game 5, and then we’ll see what happens.
Q. LeBron, could you talk about your offensive night. And did you defer too much?
LeBRON JAMES: Definitely didn’t play great offensively. I got to do a better job of being more assertive offensively, not staying out of rhythm offensively the whole game. But I think one thing I try to concentrate is, if I get two guys on me, try to make my teammates better, hit those guys for open looks. They made some great looks, but at the same time I have to keep myself in rhythm while I’m doing that as well.
Q. LeBron, you guys had a commanding lead in the fourth. You guys would have gone up 3-1. Mavericks had nothing going. Shooting a low percentage. Dirk was sick. How do you think you guys ended up losing this game? What happened?
LeBRON JAMES: I don’t think anything is commanding in this series. These are two games teams trying to figure out a way to make plays down the stretch. We’ve seen in this series seven or eight-point lead is nothing. You just got to continue to execute offensively, continue to grind defensively. And put yourself in the best possible chance to win late.
Dallas coach Rick Carlisle
Q. Can you talk about the resiliency and resolve your team continues to show.
COACH RICK CARLISLE: Look, we’re a tough ballclub. We’ve been tough all year. We don’t have the appearance of a physically bruising-type team, but this is as mentally tough a group as I’ve ever had. I love this team more than any team I’ve had, because they just — what they stand for, how they play together, and how they trust. It can be difficult, because Miami has some guys that make some breath-taking plays. Just to keep playing through that and to keep playing through situations where you’re missing some shots you normally make, hey, there’s some frustration out there, but they stuck together. They kept their energy up. And they found a way.
Q. Rick, Dirk shot 6-for-19 in the game. You heard him wheezing and coughing. You knew he had a fever. But despite all of that, with the game on the line and 14 seconds to go, even in that condition, can you want the ball in anybody’s hands other than him?
COACH RICK CARLISLE: Well, he’s one of the greatest ever. He wants the ball, and he wants the responsibility of winning and losing the game. So we make every effort to put him in those situations. It’s not easy, because teams do a great job of trying to deny him the ball. And in those situations, you know, Jason Terry has been one of the best fourth-quarter players in the league for a number of years. And Kidd’s experience and — you know. We’re a team that has to find ways. And generally we want to play through Dirk as much as we can.
Despite battling a fever and the effects from his injured finger, Dirk led the Mavericks with 21 points and 11 rebounds. He hit a big lay-up late in the fourth quarter over Udonis Haslem and Dwyane Wade to extend the Dallas lead to three. After a quick dunk by Wade and two free throws by Jason Terry, Miami had one last chance to tie the game. However, the inbounds pass went through Dwyane Wade's hands forcing him to dive into the backcourt to save it to Mike Miller who air-balled a desperation three at the buzzer.
Wade carried Miami's offense for most of the night. finishing with 32 points on 13-20 shooting. Chris Bosh chipped in 24 points and 6 rebounds. Tonight was a banner night for people who disliked LeBron James, as he completely no-showed with 8 points on 3-11 shooting. More troubling was how detached James looked from the game down the stretch and how little he was involved in the offense during crunch time.
Terry was the Mavericks second leading scorer with 17 points and Shawn Marion added 16 of his own. Dallas also got 13 from Tyson Chandler and 11 from DeShawn Stevenson in extended minutes, as the supporting cast provided more of a boost to Dirk than they had in previous games.
Game five will be Thursday night in Dallas. When a series is tied 2-2, the team who wins game five goes on to win the series over 73 percent of the time.
Games 2 and 3 of the 2011 NBA Finals have come down to the final possession, and the way the Miami Heat and Dallas Mavericks have gone back-and-forth thus far there is no reason to believe that trend won't continue for the rest of the series. Game 4 is tonight in Dallas (9 p.m. ET, ABC) with Miami holding a 2-1 advantage.
With the series having a 2-3-2 format and games 6 and 7 scheduled to be in Miami it is critical for the Mavericks to win the next two games to have a realistic chance to win the NBA title.
"I'm one of the three who has been able to win a championship. I've been able to understand there's a moment -- not saying our players don't understand big games. Take it upon myself at this time to be a little more vocal, to understand the moment a little more, and just you want it as well. Like I said, I've been here before. I've experienced a very weird tough series before to win the championship. I don't want none of these guys for us to walk away and say if we would have did this or would have did that. If you get beat, you get beat because you put it all out there and did everything you said you wanted to do," Wade said.
"When those moments are happening, I feel like it's my time to step up. Vice versa, if I don't do something, I expect my teammates to step up and tell me. Because I would take that from them a lot better anyway than from the outside. It's me feeling the moment and understanding this is it. We have eight days left in this entire season. You don't want to leave nothing to chance."
The series schedule and TV information are below.
Miami coach Erik Spoelstra
This series is turning out to be an absolute series of endurance, mental and physical. We didn’t expect anything less than the competitive physicality of this game tonight. Our guys really competed. At times it was a little uneven, but we found ways to make plays on both ends of the court, to grind this game out in a very enduring win. … We have two wins under our belt. We have to try to be greedy and get another one. But there isn’t going to be anything easy that comes in this series for either team.
Q. Hey, Dirk, Jason Kidd was just out here, and he said you love the big stage, and you love to carry the team at the end. You scored the last nine points of Game 2. You scored their last 12 points last night. You may love the big stage, but do you need more help?
DIRK NOWITZKI: Well, I thought we had opportunities. First of all, we can’t always fall down behind. I think we’re always reacting. We did in the first quarter. We fell down big. Third quarter we came out slow, fell down big. Obviously it takes a lot of energy for us to fight back. But even down the stretch, I think there were opportunities. I thought Jet had a good look at the baseline. I think it was to tie it or go up two. And we had a mental breakdown, that one play Bosh gets the wide-open jumper the last minute. So I thought we had our opportunities, and just weren’t good enough. You have to give them credit. Their defense is pretty good.
We felt this was a must-win. We had to put it upon ourselves to try to take home court back in a sense, and by any means necessary.
Q. Dwyane, can you talk about the urgency you played with tonight? Especially with the rebounding. You were really aggressive going towards the boards.
DWYANE WADE: Yeah, just understanding the moment. Took it upon myself as a leader to try to lead my guys by example. And I think for me it started in practice yesterday. I was very aggressive going to the hole practicing. My teammates seen it. They can tell that I wanted this game, and I came in with the same mentality today. Just trying to — like I said, I’ve been here before. So just trying to lead. My guys did a great job of following that lead. We were able to come out with the win.
Dallas coach Rick Carlisle
I think tonight one of the things that hurt us was we were digging out of holes all night, with the exception of the very beginning of the game. We get down five or seven, climb back into it, get a one-point lead or get it tied, and then we were a minute or two later back digging ourselves back again. It’s very difficult playing from behind all the time.
So they played a better game tonight for sure. But we’re going to have to play more efficiently. We’re going to have to get the ball in the basket more. And overall we’re going to have to play a better game.
Dallas, TX (Sports Network) – The biggest shot of Game 3 came from a different big man.
Chris Bosh buried the go-ahead jumper with 39.6 seconds left Sunday, and the Miami Heat survived another late shot from Dirk Nowitzki to beat Dallas, 88-86, and take a 2-1 series lead in the NBA Finals.
After Dwyane Wade had scored seven straight points for the Heat, Bosh worked his way into a wide-open position on the low left side to set up his shot.
Guarded closely, LeBron James gave the ball up, settling for the go-ahead assist instead of the go-ahead points.
“It was the right play. We’ve been making the right plays,” said Bosh. “We trust each other. This is as big as it gets and when you can trust someone like that, I think it’s great.”
“I saw C.B. wide-open,” said James. “I don’t care if he’s missed 15 (shots) in a row. That’s his sweet spot.”
Following a timeout, Nowitzki got the inbounds pass above the three-point arc and dribbled Udonis Haslem down to the foul line, stepping back for a fadeaway that bounced high off the rim as time expired.
“We found ways to make plays on both ends of the court, to grind this game out,” said Heat coach Erik Spoelstra.
The Heat rebounded from a demoralizing loss in Game 2, when Nowitzki scored his team’s final nine points to lead the Mavericks back from a 15-point deficit in the final six-plus minutes, making the winning layup with his injured left hand in the final seconds.
“You can’t lose a game like that and come and lose Game 3,” said Wade. “And we made enough plays to win the ballgame.”
Still playing with a small splint on his left middle finger, Nowitzki poured in 34 points Sunday, including 12 in a row to end the game as the Mavs continued to look for their 7-foot jump shooter on the offensive side.
“Dirk is doing his part,” said Mavs guard Jason Kidd, “but everybody has to pitch in.”
Nowitzki hit a 13-foot fadeaway floater over Haslem to tie the game at 86-86. His final missed shot was his 21st of the game. He scored 15 points in the fourth quarter.
“We’d like to make it easier on him,” said Mavericks head coach Rick Carlisle, who played Nowitzki nearly 42 minutes. “But tonight was tough. Tonight was not one of those nights.”
Wade scored 29 points to lead the Heat, while Bosh added 18 and James scored 17. Miami shot 43.6 percent and won despite being outrebounded 42-36, including a 12-9 deficit on the offensive glass. Wade also led the Heat in rebounds with 11.
Jason Terry had 15 points off the bench for Dallas, but scored just five after halftime. Shawn Marion chipped in 10 points, while Nowitzki and Tyson Chandler pulled down 11 rebounds apiece. Kidd had 10 assists and nine points in the loss.
The Mavs went on a 17-3 run in the third quarter, taking a 59-58 lead on Terry’s 17-footer. But James and Mario Chalmers hit back-to-back threes to stop the bleeding and the Heat carried a 67-64 lead into the fourth.
Among Nowitzki’s 12 straight points was a backdoor dunk after Kidd found him near the baseline with a good pass. Wade hit a 20-footer at the other end for the last of his seven straight points, making it 86-84 and setting up Nowitzki’s game-tying floater.
“This series is turning out to be a series of endurance,” said Spoelstra.
Game 4 is Tuesday in Dallas — and if history is any indicator, the Mavs may have played themselves into trouble.
Since the NBA went to a 2-3-2 series format, the winner of Game 3 after a split in the first two games has gone on to win the title all 11 times.
The Mavs won every quarter except the first Sunday in a game that was more back-and-forth than a metronome.
About that first quarter: Chalmers buried a desperation three-pointer at the buzzer to give Miami a 29-22 lead, throwing up the shot just a couple steps past midcourt.
Replays showed Chalmers’ foot on the halfcourt line around the time he received the pass, a possible backcourt violation.
“That’s a great play for them,” said Carlisle, “and it’s a tough one for us.”
The series is a rematch of the 2006 NBA Finals, when Wade and the Heat beat Nowitzki’s Mavericks in six games after falling behind 0-2 in the series. It was the only other time either franchise made the Finals.
Dallas played without backup center Brendan Haywood, who was ruled out because of the right hip flexor injury he sustained in Game 2. Carlisle stressed that it would be important for Chandler, the starting center, to stay out of foul trouble with Haywood sidelined. Chandler finished with just two personal fouls, both in the second half.
Both teams endured long runs in the game. The Heat used a 12-0 run in the second quarter to snap a tie before the Mavs countered with seven straight points. Wade scored the next four points on a layup and dunk and the Heat built their lead to a game-high 14 on a pair of James free throws with 3:03 left in the first half.
Dallas countered with an 11-2 run to end the half trailing 47-42, capped by a Kidd free throw. Kidd pump-faked Wade into the air near the three-point line on the left side, and Wade came down on Kidd’s shoulder before tumbling into the seats.
“We’re always reacting. Obviously, it takes a lot of energy for us to fight back,” said Nowitzki. “We have to be a little sharper at the beginning and not let them get their rhythm.”
Back in 2008, the Knicks interviewed then-jobless Rick Carlisle for their vacant head coach position. They went with Mike D'Antoni.
Here are some post-game reactions to the 95-93 victory by the Dallas Mavericks over the Miami Heat Thursday night in Game 2 of the 2011 NBA Finals.
I think in this league you have to play till the end. Especially this is The Finals. You can be down 20. You have to keep plugging. You never know what’s going to happen in this league. And we kept on fighting. And we got some lucky bounces there. LeBron went down the middle, had a wide-open lay-up, I thought. Short-armed it a little bit. We were able to get that rebound and go.
So you have to be a little lucky, but we kept on plugging. And look, I said it all playoffs long, we’re a veteran team. We don’t get too high with the highs and too low with the lows. That was definitely a little hole we got ourselves in, but we kept believing, kept playing off each other, and that was big.
Q. Erik, Dirk’s last basket, I think you guys had a foul to give. Was that a mistake?
COACH ERIK SPOELSTRA: It’s easy to say it right now. You know, we’re aware of it.
We talked about it. We’ve been in that situation before. We didn’t use the foul. Obviously, it looks like right now you could second-guess that, but we didn’t take it.
Q. No double on Dirk?
COACH ERIK SPOELSTRA: At that time, they had carved us up enough on that, we left open some shooters, and they made us pay. We tried to do it with our normal defense. He made a heck of a drive. We cut him off one time, he spun, our help defense came, and he made a high-arcing lay-up, I believe with his left hand.
Q. Was there anything said, whether it was you or whether it was the players, before you guys went on that really long run, anything that needed to be said or kind of was a motivating factor?
COACH RICK CARLISLE: Just hang in. Let’s get some stops. Let’s give ourselves a chance. Let’s put some pressure on them. We really hadn’t put any pressure on them at all in two games to speak of.
It’s hard because they make a lot of — they put you in a lot of tough situations. They have a lot of breath-taking ability out there on the court. But by being solid and getting a couple of stops and scoring, we got some momentum, and it worked out.
Q. Dwyane, did you guys at all when you were up 15 exhale? How do you explain the way that last final minutes went there.
DWAYNE WADE: Well, I mean, obviously they played very well. We pride ourselves on the defensive end, and they were able to break us down at the defensive end. And we made some mental mistakes. They got some open shots. We said in the huddle, we were up 15, that this team is very capable of coming back. They’ve proven it. They’ve shown it.
So we didn’t have to score another point to win the game. Our defense was what we lay our heads on. We didn’t play it the way we normally play. They deserved it. And we didn’t.
Q. Can you talk about the difference in your mindset from going up with a 2-0 lead, where they have to win four of the last five, to suddenly the series is even, they’ve regained home-court advantage, and you’re going there for the next three?
LeBRON JAMES: It’s a different mindset, of course. It’s a ballgame now. With the series tied 1-1, we’re looking forward to the challenge. It’s going to be a difficult challenge for us but we’re looking forward to it. We’re a confident bunch. We play great on the road. It’s going to be a hostile environment. Their fans and team are going to bring everything they have. We have to come out with it all. Play as close to 48 minutes as possible on both ends.
Unless you are a Miami Heat fan, you had to love what you saw at the end of Game 2 of the 2011 NBA Finals Thursday night. Down 88-73 with 7:15 to play the Dallas Mavericks roared back to win, 95-93, knotting the series at 1-1.
Until those fateful final minutes it looked like both the game and the series were pretty much over. When Dwayne Wade (36 points) hit a ridiculous corner 3-pointer the Heat had that 88-73 lead, and it was pretty obvious that both the Heat fans and players pretty much began sizing up their championship rings at that point.
Only Miami forgot that Dallas has made a habit of erasing huge fourth-quarter deficits in these playoffs. In Game 4 of the Western Conference finals the Mavs trailed Oklahoma City by 15 points in the fourth quarter before winning in overtime.
While Miami was forgetting to finish the game, Dallas was seemingly just remembering that to win the Mavericks had to start playing defense and stop throwing the ball away.
The Mavericks got close and Nowitzki — damaged left hand and all — pushed them over the top, scoring his team’s final nine points.
Plenty of questions at the end of this one.
- Why did Miami coach Erik Spoelstra choose Chris Bosh to defend Nowitzki on the final shot when he could have gone to Udonis Haslem, Joell Anthony or LeBron James — all better defenders?
- Why did Miami, which had a foul to give on the Mavericks final possession, choose not to use it?
- Why did the Heat leave Bosh one-on-one against Nowitzki, a great player having a transcendent playoff run?
- Did the Heat let down after Wade’s shot, and his pose, in the corner that made the score 88-73?
- Are the Mavericks, with the next three game in Dallas, now in control of the series?
Regardless of the answers, NBA fans — except those who root for Miami — now have exactly what they want. A real series that could go either way. It looks like the fun has just begun.
Don't call it a comeback.
After three and a half quarters of dunk after dunk, gave the Miami Heat a commanding 88-73 lead with only 7:15 left on the clock. The Dallas Mavericks, Dirk Nowitzki in particular, took the game over with a furious rally capped by a left-handed lay-up by Dirk with 3.6 seconds left. He had the Mavericks final nine points, including a 3-pointer on the possession before to give Dallas a 93-90 lead.
Mario Chalmers, of all people, would answer with a 3-pointer of his own to tie the game before Dirk's game winner. Dwyane Wade missed a buzzer beater from just a few steps inside half-court as time expired. Despite the miss, Wade was spectacular was 36 points.He wasn't complimented as well as usual by the rest of the big three. LeBron James finished with a quiet 20 points and eight rebounds. Chris Bosh only had 12 points and 8 rebounds.
For the Mavericks, Dirk led the charge with 24 points. Shawn Marion had another strong game, finishing with 20 points and carrying the Mavericks offense for stretches in the second half before Dirk took over. Jason Terry had 16 points, despite not hitting any three point attempts.
Game 3 is Sunday night in Dallas. This was Miami's first home loss of the playoffs.
The series schedule and TV information are below.
Dirk Nowitzki says he "will be OK" for Game 2 of the NBA Finals Thursday night despite the torn tendon in the middle finger of his left hand. The Dallas Mavericks need their superstar player to be right as they trail the Miami Heat 1-0 in the best-of-seven series, and it does not appear they can match the Heat without Nowitzki can continue his magical playoff run.
"I don't think it's going to be necessarily bothering me on the shot. Obviously on the shot you only hold the ball with the left hand. It's not like you do anything crazy with it. It's going to be other stuff, dribbling, passing, catching, swiping down, stuff like that. I think it will be okay," Nowitzki said. "I have this splint on for now. I think we're going to play around with some other stuff. Try tape, or try a splint from the back so I can feel the ball and not lose grip of the ball.
"We're going to play around with it today in practice, maybe tomorrow some in shoot-around. By then I'll have an idea how it feels and how it is to play with the thing. I'll be okay. I'm really not worried. It's not that sore, so it should be okay."
Nowitzki scored a game-hgih 27 points in Game 1, but the Miami troika of LeBron James (24 points, nine rebounds), Dwayne Wade (22 points, 10 rebounds) and Chris Bosh (19 points, nine rebounds) was too much for Dallas.
The biggest difference in Tuesday's Game 1 was offensive rebounding, where Miami held a 16-6 advantage.
"We have to be more opportunistic. Our shot-making has to be better and our rebounding has to be better," said Dallas coach Rick Carlisle. "We're minus 10 on offensive boards. That's 10 more opportunities that they have the ball and we don't."
The series schedule and TV information are below.
If ESPN's Tim Legler is right that Dirk Nowitzki's torn tendon in the middle finger of his left hand is a "big problem," then the Dallas Mavericks are in big trouble in the 2011 NBA Finals. Nowitzki tore the tendon during Game 1 Tuesday night, a 92-84 victory by the Miami Heat.
"That's a big problem for Dirk Nowitzki because he actually prefers to go left, particularly when he starts from the middle of the floor at the top of the key," Legler said. "He loves to go left, swing through and go that way for either a step back jumper or to try to get to the rim to finish with that left hand. Both of those things are going to be affected by his inability to squeeze that basketball and get a firm grip on it."
Legler added, "will it affect him to the extinct that he's not an effective player? I don't think so but I don't think he's going to be the same Dirk Nowitski that we've seen throughout the playoffs."
Nowitzki, of course, tried to downplay the injury.
"I guess it will be all right. I have to wear a splint probably for the rest of the playoffs, for a couple of weeks," he said. "But it will be all right. It's on my left hand, so I'll be all right for Thursday."
The Mavs need Nowitzki to be much more than all right if they are going to have a chance in this series, we have seen that much already. They need him to be transcendent. Problem is, can he do that with one hand?
After a relatively even three quarters, the Miami Heat pulled away in the fourth quarter led by Dwayne Wade and LeBron James in a dominant display that leaves doubt about how competitive Dallas could be in the 2011 NBA Finals.
The third quarter concluded with James hitting a ridiculous three-point attempt as time expired, which turned out to set the stage for Miami's fourth quarter. Wade, who struggled in the first half, stepped up when it counted the most on both ends of the floor and ended up finishing the game with 22 points, 10 rebounds, 2 blocks, and 6 assists. He also put the exclamation point on the victory with an alley-oop to James who was again solid in the final minutes and finished with 24 points, 9 rebounds, and 5 assists. Chris Bosh chipped in 19 points and 9 rebounds of his own.
Miami didn't need much from its supporting cast Tuesday night but Mario Chalmers did hit three big three-pointers and finish with 12 points. He spent the bulk of the game at point guard, replacing an ineffective MIke Bibby.
As for Dallas, the bench let them down. Jose Barea was 1-8 from the field. Peja Stojakovic had zero points. Jason Terry had 12 but was completely invisible in the second half, in a similar way that Jason Kidd was. Shawn Marion was the only player who provided adequate support for Dirk Nowitzski by contributing 16 points and 10 rebounds.
Dirk was still productive despite being constantly double teamed. Hh finished with 27 points and was 12-12 from the free throw line. Unfortunately for Dallas, the Mavs may not win a game in this series if Dirk's supporting cast can't take advantage of those constant double teams being thrown at him.
The Heat are now only three games away from driving the rest of the basketball world outside of their city insane and have now improved to 9-0 on their home court in the playoffs. Game Two is Thursday night back in Miami.
As Jason Kidd prepares to try and orchestrate an NBA championship for the Dallas Mavericks in the upcoming NBA Finals against the Miami Heat, thinking of Kidd has to bring mixed emotions to fans of the New Jersey Nets. The future Hall of Fame point guard got closer than he ever has to an NBA title while with the Nets, getting them to the Finals in back-to-back seasons.
In 2002, the Nets were swept by Shaquille O’Neal the Los Angeles Lakers. In 2003, they lost in six games to Tim Duncan and the San Antonio Spurs.
“When you go back-to-back, you feel like you will be able to go back every other year,” Kidd said in an interview with ESPNNewYork.com. “I didn’t think it would be a drought as long as it has been.”
Kidd, now 38, was a Net, and at the height of his incredible basketball powers, from the 2001-2002 season at age 28 through the 2006-2007 season at age 33.The Nets made the playoffs in all six of the full seasons Kidd spent with the team after the 2001 trade for Stephon Marbury. They could never do better, however, than the two Finals appearances achieved in Kidd’s first two seasons.
Of course, that leads you to think about the ‘what ifs.’
What if Keith Van Horn, drafted second overall in 1997 and quickly traded to New Jersey by the Philadelphia 76ers, had been the kind of transcendent player Dirk Nowitzki is now. At 6-foot-10, with great shooting range and ball skills, some thought Van Horn would reach those levels. He never did, having a nice career but not a great one. He averaged 16 points per game over a nine-year career, only once scoring more than 20 points per game. Van Horn and Kidd teamed in the 2001-2002 season, but after the sweep by the Lakers Van Horn was dealt to Philadelphia for Dikembe Mutombo.
What if The Nets had been able to get the No. 1 pick in 1997, rather than having the ping pong balls bounce toward the San Antonio Sours. That would have given them Tim Duncan. What a pair Kidd and Duncan would have been together in their prime years of the early 2000s.
What if Alonzo Mourning had been a healthy player during his time with the Nets, rather than one whoe career was derailed by kidney disease?
All Nets fans can do is wonder what could have been. And hope that Deron Williams future with the Nets proves to be at least as bright as the time Kidd spent with the franchise was.
NBA superstars LeBron James and Dirk Nowitzki will each be chasing their first NBA Championships when the Miami Heat meet the Dallas Mavericks beginning Tuesday in Miami (9 p.m. ET, ABC). The Heat dispatched the Chicago Bulls Thursday night with a late comeback to win the Eastern Conference Finals in five games. The Mavericks advanced by defeating the Oklahoma City Thunder in five games in the Western Conference Finals.
For the Heat, this is what the season has been about. James famously leaving the Cleveland Cavaliers to join superstar Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh in Miami, with the only goal being winning championships. James, 26, has reached the finals once, 2007 when the Cavaliers lost to the San Antonio Spurs.
Nowitzki leads an older Mavericks team. He is a 32-year-old 13-year veteran playing the best basketball of his illustrious career. In the playoffs he has averaged 28.4 points and 9.3 rebounds per game. The Mavericks lost in the 2006 Finals to a Heat team led by Wade and Shaquille O'Neal. With other aging veterans like the 38-year-old future Hall of Fame point guard Jason Kidd, Shawn Marion and Jason Terry the window for Nowitzki and the Mavs to win a title seems to be closing.
Here's the Finals schedule. All times are Eastern. All games are on ABC in the United States and TSN in Canada.
Follow SB Nation's 2011 NBA Finals hub for full series coverage.
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