For the first time in franchise history, the Dallas Mavericks are NBA champions. And Year 1 of the great Miami Heat experiment has ended in a bitter, close-but-not-quite disappointment.
Dallas, surprisingly, did not get a great game from star forward Dirk Nowitzki, who was just 9-for-27 from the field with 21 points. But, while Nowitzki carried his teammates early in this series, his supporting cast came through in a big way in Game 6, pushing the Mavs to a 105-95 victory. Jason Terry was outstanding, with 27 points on 11-for-16 shooting. J.J. Barea added 15 points and Shawn Marion had 12.
As happened on several occasions throughout this series, the Heat had trouble solving the Mavericks’ zone defense, which was crucial to forcing 17 turnovers and pushing the Heat to take 23 3-point attempts. They made only seven. The Heat also missed 13 free throws on the night.
The loss puts to bed an odd year for one of the most fascinating teams in recent memory. When the Heat came together last summer, with free agents LeBron James and Chris Bosh joining Dwyane Wade on a Miami “superteam,” they immediately drew strong reaction, both negative and positive, from fans, the media and NBA types around the league. That helped drive impressive television ratings throughout the regular season, playoffs and Finals.
And, as has been the case throughout these Finals, James can expect strong negative backlash, as he has shrunk from big shots in the fourth quarter. He led his team with 21 points on 9-for-15 shooting in Game 6, but also committed six turnovers.
Both teams started the game at a fierce pace. Miami, led by a determined James (nine first-quarter points), used a 12-1 run to push out to a 20-11 lead with 6:15 to play. The Mavericks seemed to be in additional trouble when, with 5:11 to go in the first quarter, Nowitzki picked up his second foul and went to the bench. But Dallas’ zone defense caused the Heat to stagnate offensively—they committed three straight turnovers at one point—and Terry came off the bench to provide nine points in the quarter, as the Mavs shot 61.9 percent to establish a 32-27 lead at the end of one.