By Dennis Berry
Are you happy? Did you wake up Monday morning feeling good about the way the NBA Finals ended? Are you going to be the guy at work or with your friends that says, "See, I told you so."
The Dallas Mavericks finished off the Miami Heat Sunday night and won the NBA Championship. In the process they have earned fans across the country by being able to keep Miami and the more importantly LeBron James from winning the title. It is so rare that a team has so many people rooting for them in a series.
After the way the Heat were put together and acted in the off season prior to the season, it turned a lot of people against them. This included the way LeBron James announced he was leaving Cleveland to join the Heat. The outrage that went towards James is well documented and followed him throughout the season.
Then there was the celebration party after signing James and Chris Bosh. Seeing it you would have thought that Miami had already won the NBA Championship. Again to people across the country, that came off in a negative way. Talking about how many titles they were going to win when they had not even won a single title was too much.
It appeared that Miami would start their title run in the first year of the "Big Three." They were playing their best basketball of the year in the playoffs. They knocked out the Boston Celtics, the defending Eastern Conference champions in the East Semi-Finals. Then in the conference finals they eliminated the Chicago Bulls, who had the best record in the NBA.
Most had figured the Heat would beat the Mavericks in the Finals. Although Dallas was playing its best basketball of the year too, they did not have the superstar power that Miami did. Most figured that they were just going to be the first in a line of the Western Conference teams to lose to Miami in the Finals.
Dallas did not get that message.
After losing game one of the finals, it appeared that Dallas was headed for an 2-0 hole in the series. They were down 15 points with 7 minutes left in game two. That is when the legend of Dirk Nowitzki in the Finals will begin. He scored nine points and the Mavericks run to come back and win game two.
Even though Miami won game three in Dallas, the Mavericks did not get down. In games four and five the Heat would have a lead in the fourth quarter only to see Dallas come back for the win. In game four it was a 21-9 run in the final 10 minutes of the game that gave Dallas the win. Even with Nowitzki suffering from a 101 degree temperature. In game five, it was the Mavericks that would lose a fourth quarter lead, but they did not give up and went on a 15-3 run to win game five.
Both games were great for Miami critics as fans witnessed James lack of fourth quarter production in those games. He only scored eight total points in game four, but did come back with a triple-double in game five. What was shocking to see was the fact that James only scored a total of two points combined in the fourth quarters of both games. Not exactly clutch play.
On the other hand you had Dallas coming up with big play after big play. They were the better team in this series. When someone needed to make a big play, you felt that it would be Dallas and not Miami. You had Tyson Chandler controlling the paint rebound and as a scoring threat. Shawn Marion and Jason Kidd found the fountain of youth and made big plays on both offense and defense. Jason Terry called out LeBron James and said he could not guard him in the fourth quarter, and then he backed it up.
Of course there was Nowitzki. Who since losing the NBA Finals to the Heat in 2006 had to hear about how he was soft and was not clutch in big moments. All he did was go out and lead the playoffs in fourth quarter scoring averaging almost 12 points in the fourth. He played with that 101 temperature and scored 21 points and 11 rebounds. In the playoffs he shot 50% from the field and the three point line. He shot 94% from the free throw line. He carried the Mavericks all the way to the title.
Of course for most fans this will be about how Miami crumbled under the pressure of the NBA Finals. How they celebrated too much and did not come through in clutch moments. How a superstar turned into what can be described as a spectator in the fourth quarter.
Instead they should look at how a team that most figured would lose in the first round came together and won a title. How one of the best point guards in NBA history finally has a championship ring. How a superstar rose and cemented his place as one of the best shooters in NBA history.
All people will concrete on his Miami came up short in the Finals. Somewhere, Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert is smiling.