Finals 2011: Game 6 Notebook

By Brian Martin,

A New Champ Is Crowned

The Dallas Mavericks won the NBA championship for the first time in franchise history with a 4-2 win over the Miami Heat in the 2011 NBA Finals. The Mavericks had made one previous trip to the Finals in 2006, when Dallas lost to the Miami Heat by the same 4-2 margin. In 2006, the Heat clinched the title on Dallas’ home court. In 2011, the Mavericks returned the favor by celebrating a title on Miami’s floor.

The Mavericks joined the NBA in the 1980-81 season and won just 15 games in their inaugural season. However, over the past decade, the Mavericks have been one of the league’s most successful franchises, winning 50 or more games in 11 straight seasons. They have been a perennial playoff team and now they are a championship team.

“I’m so happy for [Mark]. I’m so happy for Dirk,” said Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle after the game. “I’m so happy for the Mavericks’ organization, which is such a class organization, as are the Miami Heat. A few minutes after the game, Pat Riley came down to congratulation us. And he just showed unbelievable class. We appreciate that.”

What Is Your Ring Size?

With Sunday’s series-clinching win, each of the 15 players on the Mavericks’ roster earned their first NBA championship rings, with several players ending championship quests of more than a decade.

Jason Kidd, who made two unsuccessful trips to the NBA Finals with the New Jersey Nets in 2002 and 2003, and who began his career in Dallas, earns his first ring in his 17th NBA season. Dirk Nowitzki and Peja Stojakovic both earned their first ring in their 13th NBA season. Jason Terry and Shawn Marion are in their 12th season, while Brian Cardinal is in his 11th NBA campaign.

“Man, it’s a dream come true,” said Kidd. “It’s not real right now, because just the battles against the Heat and understanding the journey, it’s been a long journey for 17 years. I thought I had an opportunity in ’03 to win a championship, and I was on the other end; we lost to the Spurs.

“My teammates, their character and their will to come every day and work to get better, they deserve all the credit,” he continued. “And so I’m just happy to be at the right place at the right time.”

D-I-R-K = M-V-P

Mavericks forward Dirk Nowitzki was voted the unanimous winner of the Bill Russell Finals MVP award after averaging 26.0 points and 9.7 rebounds in the series. In the Finals, Nowitzki shot .978 (45-of-46) from the free throw line and went 7-of-19 (.368) from 3-point range. In the Playoffs, he had six games of 30 points or more, including one in the Finals (Game 3).

“You look at what Dirk was able to accomplish this postseason. He played like none other,” said Jason Terry. “The year he won MVP doesn’t even compare to what he did this year in the postseason. All the critics talked about what he couldn’t do, where he fell short. But to carry this team the way he’s done is just phenomenal. I’m just happy to be a part of it.”

JET Soars Again

Mavericks reserve guard Jason Terry was brilliant once again in Game 6, scoring a game-high 27 points on 11-16 shooting in under 34 minutes on the court. While Nowitzki was the clear choice for MVP, it was Terry’s resurgence over the past three games that fueled the Mavericks to the title.

In the first the games of the series, Terry scored a total of 43 points (14.3 per game) on 13-of-34 shooting (.382). In the final three games, Terry scored 65 points (21.3 per game) on 22-of-44 shooting (.500).

“Jason Terry was phenomenal tonight,” said Carlisle. I mean absolutely – 11-for-16 from the floor, 27 points. This guy is willing to come off the bench. I just can’t tell you as a coach what it means to have guys that are that committed to winning that they’ll make those kinds of sacrifices.”

So Much for Coming Off the Bench

Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle made a great strategic move by adding JJ Barea to his starting lineup in place of DeShawn Stevenson prior to Game 4. Barea, who had struggled during the first three games of the series, was much more effective with the starting unit.

In the first three games of the series, all of the bench, Barea scored a total of 13 points on 5-for-23 shooting (.217). In the final three games of the series, all in the starting lineup, Barea scored a total of 40 points on 16-32 shooting (.500). And by no coincidence, the Mavericks won each of the three games Barea started.

Elite Company for Carlisle

Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle joined an exclusive group on Sunday, becoming just the 12th person to win an NBA title as both a player and a coach. Carlisle was on the Boston Celtics’ championship team in 1986 and led the Mavericks to the 2011 title in his third season at the helm and ninth season overall as a head coach in the NBA.

Cuban Wins Title

Many wondered what it would be like when NBA Commissioner David Stern presented the Larry O’Brien championship trophy to Mavericks owner Mark Cuban, who has been fined by the league more than any other owner and possibly all other owners combined. Well, they will still have to wait for that moment to happen.

At the request of Cuban, Commissioner Stern presented the trophy to original Mavericks owner Donald Carter, who then passed to Cuban and the rest of the team on the podium during the trophy presentation.

Cuban, always one of the league’s loudest and most brash owners, essentially put on a muzzle during the Mavericks’ playoff run. He let the spotlight shine on the team and even after winning his first title as an owner, was quick to praise others.

“Obviously, it feels great, but I'm happiest for Dirk, J Kidd, Jason Terry, Donald Carter, Mavs fans, the city of Dallas,” said Cuban. “Hopefully I'll have more cracks at it. These are the guys laid it out every single day, played through pain. So I'm happiest for them.”

Record Watch

Dirk Nowitzki shot .978 (45-of-46) from the free throw line in the Finals. His performance matches that or Reggie Miller during the six-game Finals between the Indiana Pacers and L.A. Lakers. But it still falls short of James Posey, who connected on all 12 of his free throw attempts in a six-game Finals in 2008 between the Boston Celtics and Lakers. Since the record is based on a minimum of two free throws made per game, Posey just makes the cut.

The Mavericks as a team connected on 51 3-pointers during the Finals, including 24 in the last two games alone. Their mark falls one short of the NBA record of 52 set by the Celtics in 2008 against the Lakers.

The Mavericks did set a record for fewest fouls committed in a six-game Finals with only 118 personal fouls. The previous record was 121, set by the Houston Rockets against the Celtics in 1981.

An International Affair

The Mavericks feature players from all over the world. While everyone knows that Dirk Nowitzki is from Germany, they may be less familiar with Dallas’ other international players. They are JJ Barea (Puerto Rico), Ian Mahinmi and Rodrigue Beaubois (France), and Peja Stojakovic (Serbia).

The Mavericks’ Big Three

Much was made of the Mavericks being a team with one star in Dirk Nowitzki defeating a Heat team with three stars in LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh, who came together in Miami this offseason during free agency.

Mavericks’ owner Mark Cuban had a little fun with the idea during his postgame press conference.

“Let me just say, it wasn't quite like people imagined,” he said. “We were going to go out and get our big three. Dirk did a lot of recruiting. He went out and got Brian Cardinal. (Laughter) He got Ian Mahinmi. He knew that was going to take Dirk is like that. He'll take one for the team. So he took a little less money so we could afford Ian and Brian.”