We break down the Finals, number by number
Inside the Numbers: The Finals
By Chris Rosenbluth
June 5 -- After a grueling 82 regular-season games and three thrilling rounds of playoff hoops, two teams remain: the Dallas Mavericks and the Miami Heat. If you look close enough you can see the Larry O'Brien Trophy shimmering in the eyes of each player and coach as he prepares for the final stage of what has been a season-long trek toward basketball's ultimate prize.
But behind the glitz and glamour of the Finals lie some interesting numbers, some facts and figures that help paint a more accurate picture of what should be a thoroughly entertaining, highly competitive series. Sure, there's Riles and the Little General, Shaq and Dirk, D-Wade and ... err ... Mark Cuban? There's plenty of stars and oodles of hype to go around, but the numbers, yes the numbers, lie beneath.
So before you settle into your coziest chair and flip the dial to ABC on Thursday, take a minute to go inside those numbers.
Without further adieu ...
0 Combined Finals appearances for the Heat and Mavericks franchises.
18 Years the Heat have been an NBA franchise.
26 Years the Mavs have been an NBA franchise.
1 Player on the Mavericks with Finals experience (Keith Van Horn, with the Nets in 2002).
3 Players on the Heat with Finals experience (Shaquille O'Neal, with the Magic in 1995 and the Lakers in 2000, 2001, 2002 and 2004; Gary Payton, with the Sonics in 1996 and the Lakers in 2004; Shandon Anderson, with the Jazz in 1997 and 1998).
1 Championship ring on the Mavs sideline (Coach Avery Johnson, who won the 1999 Finals as a player with the Spurs).
9 Championship rings on the Heat sideline (Coach Pat Riley - 6, Shaq - 3).
5 Consecutive wins for the Mavs over the Heat, including victories this season on Nov. 25 and Feb. 9 that extended Dallas' then winning streaks to 13 and six straight games, respectively.
24.5 Average margin of victory (in points) for the Mavs in their two wins against the Heat this season.
16.8 Average margin of victory (in points) for the Mavs in the five straight wins overall.
3/26/04 As in March 26, 2004, i.e. the last time the Heat defeated the Mavs.
119-118 The final score of that game.
5 Periods it took for the Heat to notch the victory.
12 Former Top 10 NBA Draft picks playing in the Finals (six players per team).
26.2 Points per game scored by Dwyane Wade in this year's Playoffs.
28.4 Points per game scored by Dirk Nowitzki in this year's Playoffs.
31 Times a player has scored 50 points in a playoff game, the last of whom was Nowitzki in Game 5 of this year's Western Conference Finals.
821 Career games played, including the postseason, by Miami's Alonzo Mourning before the veteran big man finally made it to the Finals.
60 NBA Finals played, beginning with the first in 1947 between the Philadelphia Warriors and Chicago Stags (Philly took home the trophy in five games).
37 Finals MVPs awarded, the first of which was presented to Jerry West in 1969, making him the only player to win the award despite playing for the losing team.
35 Years since the Bucks and Bullets met in the Finals, the last time two teams made their Finals debuts in the same series.
5 Times two first-timers met in the same Finals series.
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