Reporting Tim Kephart
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MIAMI (CBSMiami.com) – Call it sweet revenge. In 2006, the Miami Heat came back against the Dallas Mavericks to win the NBA title on Dallas’ home court. In 2011, the Mavs paid the Heat back.
Dallas knocked off the Heat 105-95 after another dominating performance against the Three Kings of the Miami Heat.
The win culminated Mavericks owner Mark Cuban’s 11-year pursuit of an NBA title that saw the owner spend $880 million in player salaries. And after the 2011 NBA Championship was handed to Cuban, every dollar was well spent.
It started out well for the Heat, but things would fall apart quickly and the better team in this series took over and never looked back.
There was a change in the starting lineup for the Heat in Game 6. Heat coach Erik Spoelstra had seen J.J. Barea of the Dallas Mavericks abuse Mike Bibby long enough and inserted Mario Chalmers into the starting lineup.
Click here for Game 6 in pictures.
As the crowd rose as one, the Heat took to the offense and got Chalmers involved in the action early. But, Chalmers went 0-2 with two airballs on the opening possessions. Chalmers was obviously a little excited heading into his first starting job in months.
The Heat bailed out Chalmers as LeBron hit a 3-pointer to give the Heat an early lead. LeBron would follow that up by driving baseline to get an easy layup. LeBron was feeling it early and heavily involved in the offense in the first quarter.
But, the Mavericks rode the hot hand of J.J. Barea who the Heat simply had no answer for the smallest man on the court.
Miami would go on to a 12-0 run in the first quarter, and Mavericks star Dirk Nowitzki headed to the bench with 5 minutes to go in the quarter. But then the wheels came off for the Heat.
Dallas made a switch to the zone defense and took the Heat completely out of their game. Jason Terry came in and was hitting shots from all over the court.
And Miami fell into the old habit of throwing up 3-pointers without running through the offense or even attacking the zone defense. LeBron went from attacking to hanging around the perimeter when the Mavs went zone.
Even when Mavericks center Tyson Chandler picked up his second foul of the quarter, the Heat still couldn’t stop the Mavs who kept coming.
The Mavs ran off a 17-point turnaround and at the end of the first quarter led the Heat, 32-27.
As the second quarter got underway, the Heat and Mavs went back and forth for a bit and then the Heat came storming back.
Mavs center Tyson Chandler again found the wrong side of Dwyane Wade when the Heat point guard rejected another shot by the 7-foot center.
But as Eddie House brought the house down to give the Heat a lead, things got ugly with 6:25 left in the quarter.
Mavericks guard DeShawn Stevenson shoved Heat forward Udonis Haslem as the teams headed to the bench. Haslem got in Stevenson’s face and then Heat guard Mario Chalmers came into the fracas. Chalmers was shoved by Stevenson as well.
The refs took extra time before making their decision that Haslem and Chalmers of the Heat would be called for technicals, while Stevenson of the Mavs would also garner a technical foul.
It was a crucial call that could have made a lasting impact on the series, but instead was tough enough to keep control, yet not so harsh that the team’s would be impacted long-term.
But the biggest story through the first half was Mavericks star Dirk Nowitzki. He was 1-12 in the first half and was a non-entity in the second quarter. He looked a half-step behind and was slow moving through the lane.
When Mavs center Tyson Chandler went out of the game with his third foul, both teams went small. The teams would then go back and forth that left media members gasping in the media room.
The Mavs used the great equalizer throughout the first half, Mavs guard Jason Terry. The Mavs guard shot 80 percent from the field in the first half, including 60 percent from behind the three-point arc. Overall, the Mavs shot 50 percent from three.
Jason Terry had 19 points at halftime to lead the Mavericks. LeBron James came alive for 11 points in the first half. Chris Bosh, Dwayne Wade, and Eddie House all had 9 points in the half and Wade had 6 points and 6 assists at halftime.
The Miami Heat emerged from the locker room cold. They had poor body language and gave up an 8-0 run early in the third quarter. In one possession, the Heat passed up on 5 wide-open jumpers on one possession, which was a microcosm of the game.
The Heat would push but couldn’t get the lead to closer than about 5 points through most of the quarter. Even with Dirk Nowitzki shooting 4-18, the Heat couldn’t pull close with the Mavs.
It wasn’t helping that neither Wade or James could buy a foul in the quarter. Both players were visibly frustrated through the quarter and Wade eventually got a technical with around 4 minutes to go in the quarter.
Plus, both Wade and James were on the court through most of the quarter, while Dirk rested on the Mavs bench.
The Heat were also having to deal with the Mavs’ Brian Cardinal who on two separate plays should have been called for flagrant fouls for hacking a Heat player and following through with his arms. Cardinal was laughing about the fouls with the refs at one point.
The Heat missed 11 free throws through the third quarter. It was really a pathetic display from the line, despite the Heat shooting about 10 more free throws than the Mavericks.
Jason Kidd buried a three pointer and then Ian Mahinmi hit a jumper to end the quarter with the Mavs leading 81-72 after three quarters.
With everything on the line in the fourth quarter, the Heat came out firing. Mario Chalmers took it to the hole early and unlike the rest of his teammates, hit his foul shots.
But it was Jason Terry who again burned the Heat with a steal on Wade with 9:50 to go in the game that led to points for the Mavs.
Even as Dirk and Chandler had 4 fouls each early in the fourth quarter, the Heat had no answer. The Mavs got into the Heat’s head early and often and when it mattered the most, Dwyane Wade was nowhere to be found on the court.
Wade even dribbled it off his feet to turn the ball over in the quarter and it was just too much Mavs in the quarter, especially Jason Terry.
Even as the Heat tried to mount a comeback, the Heat couldn’t rebound the ball and looked disinterested and gave up near the end.
The Heat have no one to blame but themselves for the series going this way. From poor free throw shooting throughout the series, to LeBron James disappearing in the fourth quarter in Dallas, to Dwyane Wade disappearing in Game 6, the Heat just couldn’t overcome the Mavs.
In the end, LeBron James had 21 points, 6 rebounds, and 4 assists. Dwyane Wade had 17 points and eight rebounds, but 5 costly turnovers. Mario Chalmers contributed 18 points, 7 assists and 3 rebounds and Chris Bosh had 19 points and 8 rebounds.
Dirk Nowitzki won the MVP award and had 21 points and 11 rebounds. But the real star of Game 6 that gave the Mavs the NBA championship was Jason Terry. The Mavs guard had 27 points on 11-16 shooting along with 3 rebounds and 2 assists.
“Sometimes you just come up short,” said Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra. “We’re still proud of the season. There’s no excuses, we just came up short.”
Spoelstra was still proud of his team and the effort they put forth.
“It’s a special group, a lot sacrificed to make it happen,” Spoelstra said.
The Heat’s head coach singled out LeBron James and the choices he made and took aim at the media criticism of LeBron before and after the series.
“LeBron made a tremendous sacrifice to come here and he’s been the ultimate team player, Spoelstra said. “He shouldn’t be criticized for that.”
And when it came to what Spoelstra saw and the criticism he heard throughout the Finals, he pulled no punches.
“Each series is different, it’s a lost easier said than done,” Spoelstra said. “You have to give credit to the Mavericks. They did some things that got us out of our rhythm from the first three rounds.”
And now, the Heat will turn their focus towards next season and hope they can pull out an NBA championship then. But make no mistake, the team that walked off the court Sunday night will not be the same one that takes the court to start the 2011-2012 season.
The Heat will likely lose Erick Dampier, Zydrunas Ilgauskas, Jamaal Magloire, Mike Bibby, and possibly Juwan Howard and Mario Chalmers.
Mario can return if the price isn’t too high. He played well in the clutch and came up big in Game 6, so he’ll get some nibbles on the free agent market.
For Heat fans, it’s going to be a long summer and early fall wondering what if. For NBA fans in general, they will celebrate the Mavericks’ championship and then worry as the NBA enters into a likely lockout starting July 1.
The Heat came up short in the end of the 2011 NBA Finals. But they came together as a team throughout much of the playoffs and learned from each other. As they build for the future, the loss to Dallas will become easier to take and the team will be in a much better position in the long run.