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Tyson Chandler (left), Dirk Nowitzki and Jason Kidd had some of the best plus-minus ratings in The Finals.
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

Steady Mavs crack Heat defense's code to claim title

By John Schuhmann,
Posted Jun 13 2011 11:15AM

MIAMI -- The Dallas Mavericks are the 2011 NBA champions, beating the Miami Heat on the back of one of the games' all-time greats, with teamwork, late-game execution and great coaching. The Mavs didn't dominate the six-game series, and they certainly benefitted from the passiveness of the league's best basketball talent (LeBron James).

But in the end, Dallas took the proverbial bull by the horns, and closed out the Heat in impressive fashion.

Here's a StatsCube look at how the Mavs won their first NBA championship.

Mavs flip switch on offense

The Mavs didn't win Games 5 and 6 in the same way they won Games 2 and 4. Through the first four games, the Mavs were just getting by offensively, scoring 104 points per 100 possessions. They got their first two wins by matching the Heat defensively and out-executing them down the stretch.

But in Games 5 and 6, the Mavs cracked the Miami defense that had been so strong throughout the postseason, scoring 123 points per 100 possessions over the two games. Those numbers were much more reminiscent of how the Mavs beat the Lakers and Thunder in the previous two rounds.

Mavs' postseason efficiency*
Opponent Pace OffRtg DefRtg NetRtg
Portland 85.0 109.8 103.8 +6.1
L.A. Lakers 90.4 113.2 97.5 +15.8
Oklahoma City 92.4 111.1 107.6 +3.5
Miami 88.9 107.1 103.3 +3.8
Total 88.9 110.1 103.4 +6.7
* -- Based on pace estimates

Pace = Possessions per 48 minutes
OffRtg = Points scored per 100 possessions
DefRtg = Points allowed per 100 possessions

An elite two-man game

Throughout the series, the Mavs were at their best when Jason Kidd, Jason Terry, Shawn Marion, Dirk Nowitzki and Tyson Chandler were on the floor. Dallas outscored Miami 154-110 with that lineup in the game. When at least one of that group was on the bench, the Mavs were outscored by 30.

Before Game 6, Kidd (141) and Nowitzki (123) were the active players that had played the most postseason games without winning a championship. Their teammates, Peja Stojakovic (95) and Shawn Marion (91), were seventh and (tied for) ninth on that list.

Appropriately, Kidd and Nowitzki were the best two-man combo in the series, registering a plus-65 over the six games. The Mavs outscored the Heat 363-298 in 179 minutes with both Kidd and Nowitzki on the floor.

Kidd had the best individual plus-minus of The Finals at plus-42. He was followed by Nowitzki (plus-40), Chandler (plus-30), Marion (plus-28) and Terry (plus-22). The only other Mavs player with a positive plus-minus was Brian Cardinal, who registered a plus-3 in 31 minutes.

As for the next active player with the most postseason games played without a ring? Phoenix's Steve Nash is tops now, having played in 118 playoff games. He's followed by Mike Bibby (100), Antonio McDyess (100), Kurt Thomas (96), Richard Jefferson (94), and LeBron James (92).

The passive LeBron

The Finals' worst plus-minus mark belonged to LeBron James, who was a minus-24 in Game 6 and minus-36 for the series overall.

In the regular season, LeBron James ranked sixth in the league in usage rate. Only Kobe Bryant, Derrick Rose, Carmelo Anthony, Russell Westbrook and Dwyane Wade were used on a higher percentage of their team's possessions (via shots, assists or turnovers).

Through the first three rounds of the postseason, James' usage rate remained pretty high. But in The Finals, James was quick to give the ball up. He recorded his lowest usage rate of any playoff series in his career, and had a lower usage rate than five other players in The Finals: Dirk Nowitzki (36.4%), Dwyane Wade (32.9%), Chris Bosh (28.6%), J.J. Barea (28.4%) and Jason Terry (26.5%).

LeBron James' usage, 2010-11
Timeframe Usg% Rank
Reg. Season 34.5% 6*
First 3 rounds 31.9% 9**
Finals 25.4% 6**
* -- Among players who played at least 750 minutes
** -- Among players who played at least 100 minutes

James had more assists in The Finals (41) than anyone, and he actually shot better than he did against Boston or Chicago. He just shot less, both from the field and from the line. In his previous 16 playoff series (86 games), James had averaged 10.9 free throws per contest and never fewer than 7.3 (which he averaged in the 2007 Finals). In these Finals, James attempted just 20 free throws, or 3.3 per game.

LeBron James' per-game numbers, 2011 postseason
Philadelphia 7.6 16.2 46.9% .8 3.2 25.0% 8.2 10.0 82.0% 24.2
Boston 10.2 21.6 47.2% 2.0 4.6 43.5% 5.6 8.4 66.7% 28.0
Chicago 8.4 18.8 44.7% 1.4 3.6 38.9% 7.6 8.8 86.4% 25.8
Dallas 7.2 15.0 47.8% 1.5 4.7 32.1% 2.0 3.3 60.0% 17.8
Dirk simply clutch

Game 6 was the only game of The Finals that didn't include any "clutch" time, which is the final five minutes of the fourth quarter or overtime with a score differential of five points or less. The Mavs still made key buckets down the stretch on Sunday, and late-game execution was clearly a factor all series long.

Dallas outscored Miami 40-24 in clutch time in the series, with Nowitzki scoring twice as many clutch-time points (26) as anyone else. In the playoffs, Nowitzki scored 66 clutch-time points on 15-for-28 from the field, 3-for-5 from 3-point range and 33-for-34 from the line.

Top clutch time scorers, 2011 postseason
Dirk Nowitzki 15 28 53.6% 3 5 60.0% 33 34 97.1% 66
LeBron James 15 38 39.5% 5 15 33.3% 8 8 100.0% 43
Kevin Durant 12 27 44.4% 3 11 27.3% 11 12 91.7% 38
Zach Randolph 10 29 34.5% 1 2 50.0% 17 18 94.4% 38
Dwyane Wade 11 27 40.7% 2 6 33.3% 10 15 66.7% 34

Nowitzki's 66 clutch points are more than anyone has had in the postseason in the last four years. Second best is Bryant's 51 in 2008.

James ranked second with 43 postseason clutch-time points in 2011, but none of the 43 came in The Finals. James was 2-for-9 in clutch time in the first round against Philadelphia, 5-for-10 in the conference semifinals against Boston, 8-for-12 in the conference finals against Chicago, and 0-for-7 in the six games against Dallas.

A turnover turnaround

The Heat were supposed to take advantage of their opponent's turnovers. They did that in The Finals' first three games, scoring 62 points off Dallas turnovers, while Dallas scored just 43 off of Heat miscues.

But in the last three games, those numbers went the other way. Dallas scored 66 points off of Miami turnovers in Games 4-6, while Miami scored 37 points off Miami turnovers. In Game 6, points off turnovers were a huge difference, with Dallas holding a 27-10 edge despite turning the ball over just three fewer times.

John Schuhmann is a staff writer for You can e-mail him here and follow him on twitter.

The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NBA, its clubs or Turner Broadcasting.

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