Mavs 105 - HEAT 95 Game 6 Recap

MIAMI – "It goes without saying, you're never really prepared for a moment like this."

And with that, Erik Spoelstra began the denouement of the Miami HEAT’s 2010-11 season. The Dallas Mavericks had beaten the HEAT in Game 6 of the NBA Finals, 105-95, celebrated a championship on Miami’s court, and characters began dropping from the script.

Spoelstra was first to go, the first to share his thoughts, and his offering was perspective.

“One day we'll probably be able to look back on this, sometime this summer, when the emptiness and the pain leaves, and we'll feel better about what happened. It's a special group. A lot of guys sacrificed to make this happen. It was unfortunate we just came up short.”

Then came Chris Bosh, who finished the season with an efficient 19 points on nine shots. With grief written on his face, his first offering was grace.

“All I remember was telling [Dallas] was that they deserve it. Hands down, they were the better team in this series, and they played together well. They deserve everything they've gotten. It was really congratulating them and just moving on.”

Finally, the podium hosted LeBron James and Dwyane Wade, one who knew the pain of June basketball, one who knew the joy. From James there was reason:

“Sometimes you got it, sometimes you don't. And that was this case in this series. I was able to do things in the last two series to help us win ballgames. I wasn't able to do that in this series.”

Wade’s first words came last, and he combined all three offerings. Perspective. Grace. Rationale.

“We give credit to the Dallas Mavericks. They're a hell of a team. We lost ballgames. We lost The Finals. We ran into a team that at this time obviously was better than us. So we give them credit, and we take nothing away from that.”

There’s nothing to take away. Many search internally for blame in a situation such as this, but fault resides with the Mavericks, a team that played brilliant offensive basketball. Fault resides with Dirk Nowitzki, who shook off a 1-of-12 first half to close with shot after shot, drowning the HEAT with incredible. Fault resides with Jason Terry, whose five misses mean little to an otherwise perfect evening, with Jason Kidd and Jose Juan Barea, who buried Miami with fourth-quarter threes, even with DeShawn Stevenson and Ian Mahinmi using expectations as a stepstool.

Fault for the pain is with Shawn Marion, whose brand of chaos Miami never quite got a handle on, and with Tyson Chandler, who was the toughest center the HEAT faced all postseason.

For that, there is no prescription other than acceptance. There are many factors that played into losing this series – Dallas expertly used precious few possessions of zone defense to thwart any HEAT momentum, Miami’s difficulties conquering aggressive pick-and-roll coverage, Game 2 – but none more so than Dallas, in a make or miss league, being champion of the make. When Kidd is making off-balance threes, when Barea is shooting over taller defenders, when Mahinmi is hitting buzzer-beaters, when Stevenson is hitting step-back threes and when Terry is making anything he could think of as if he were the Green Lantern of the NBA, that’s nearly unstoppable.

And when all that is coming on the heels of one of the best offensive performances in the history of the Finals, that’s something special.

It doesn’t have to be that Dallas was a team of destiny, but it meant something. Rick Carlisle put it best.

“Their time will come, but now it’s our time.”

Now, pain deflects acceptance, but time is an ally. These Mavericks will be remembered with admiration, not only because of what they did with a leather ball, but because of what they conquered. One crushing postseason after another could have ruined Dallas, could have mired Nowitzki and Terry in years of fog, but it didn’t. To say nothing of the Mavericks’ future prospects, for them this was an end of a tale, the completion of a collective journey.

For Miami, this was a beginning. A stumble. Just as the Boston Celtics were the manifestation of failures HEAT players had had as individuals, this series is the first cut for a team. And as the story continues, that may be the most significant takeaway of what is hardly a lost season. For months, the HEAT found success as individuals, and though they fell two games short of their ultimate goal, they failed as a team.

This is just the beginning.