Looking Back On The HEAT’s First Championship
Digging Into Games 3 & 6 Of The 2006 NBA Finals
Although the season is still suspended and there are no live games to enjoy, NBA TV is coming through with another one of the HEAT’s fun rivalries.
After airing the HEAT’s playoff battles with the Celtics in 2011 and 2012 and the Spurs in 2013 and 2014, the network will broadcast Games 3 and 6 of the 2006 NBA Finals and Games 2 through 6 of the 2011 NBA Finals on Monday.
Here’s when the games from 2006 will be shown on NBA TV:
- 7:00 AM ET Mavs at HEAT, NBA Finals Game 3
- 9:00 AM ET HEAT at Mavs, NBA Finals Game 6
Game 6 will be shown again at 11:00 PM ET, and Game 3 will follow that at 2:00 AM ET on Tuesday.
While the 2011 Finals didn’t go the way Miami had hoped, 2006 definitely did.
So, let’s enter the time machine and go back to the series that made Dwyane Wade…well, Dwyane Wade.
Game 3 – June 13, 2006
You should know all about this one by now.
But hey, it’s legendary, so why not go through it again?
With the Mavs up 89-76 with 6:34 to go in the fourth quarter, things seemed to be just about over for the HEAT. A loss would have put the series at 3-0 in favor of Dallas, a deficit that no team (still to this day) has ever come back from.
It didn’t get to that point, though.
Pat Riley remembers when it all changed.
“I think everything changed in the middle of the fourth quarter…ready to go down 0-3,” Riley said. “I remember…writing on my pad, ‘Our season is on the line.’ That was it. I just left it there and the players were looking at it, read it and Dwyane Wade stood up and he cursed and he said, ‘I ain’t going out like this.’ And he just walked out on the court with this strength.”
Wade ended up scoring 12 of Miami’s last 22 points (15 in all in the fourth) and finished with a game-high 42 points on 14-of-26 shooting from the field and 13-of-18 from the line, a game-high 13 rebounds, two assists and two steals.
One of those steals was his biggest play of the game.
Eric Reid, the HEAT’s TV Play-By-Play Announcer, will never forget it.
“My favorite moment for Dwyane is Game 3 of the 2006 Finals,” Reid said. “…fear and anxiety gripped everybody that was watching that game and rooting for the HEAT as that lob sailed toward Josh Howard, who was soaring above the rim, and there was Dwyane Wade soaring right with him and deflecting the ball at the rim. And it just stands out to me after all these years that it took a great defensive play in the final second of a 42-point, 13-rebound Finals game. To me, it just speaks volumes about the completeness and what it takes to be a winner at the level that Dwyane Wade has won at.”
For all of Wade’s heroics, he didn’t do it alone. A little before Flash’s game-clinching deflection, Shaquille O’Neal drilled two big free throws and Gary Payton hit a clutch jumper to put the HEAT up 97-95 with 9.3 seconds left.
Riley goes back to the mantra from that season: 15 strong.
“With about nine seconds to go, Dwyane didn’t make the play, Shaq didn’t make the play. It was 15 Strong, man,” he said. “So, the ball ended up in Jason Williams’ hands. He put his head down, dribbled into the middle of the lane, penetrated as deep as he could and kicked it to Gary Payton with about nine seconds to go and Gary just raised…and made a jumper. The score was tied at the time. Then at the other end of the court, Dirk Nowitzki, God bless him, he missed a free throw. And after a Wade free throw, we ended up winning the game by [two]. That got us off the schneid and got us rolling into Game 4.”
Game 6 – June 20, 2006
With momentum on their side, the HEAT won Games 4 and 5 in Miami and had the chance to close it out in Dallas.
Of course, this was when Riley delivered his well-documented “One suit, one tie” speech.
“I remember talking to the players. I said, ‘Well, I’ve been here before when I was coaching the Knicks. We went down to Houston ahead 3-2 and needing just one game. Look, when you’ve got a chance to win a championship, you’ve got to win it. Anybody in this room saying we got two shots to win this thing, we’re going to lose. I’m just telling you right now. If you don’t think Game 6 is Game 7 and it’s the last game of the year, then don’t come, don’t pack your bags, don’t go to Dallas, because I’m taking one shirt, one suit and one tie. That’s it. We’re going to play Game 6, we’re going to win, we’re going to celebrate and we’re going to come home.’ And that sort of became the theme for the trip and we went down to Dallas and played one of the best games that this franchise has ever played in a big-game situation.”
And once again, it took a collective effort to do so.
Miami entered halftime with a narrow 49-48 lead thanks in large part to Wade, but Antoine Walker scored 10 points in the third, including a bucket with contact that produced this shimmy:
Speaking of scoring, James Posey made some critical plays down the stretch to keep the HEAT ahead in the fourth.
Alonzo Mourning and Udonis Haslem did their part, too, as Haslem notched a double-double with 17 points and 10 rebounds and played stout defense on Nowitzki. Mourning, meanwhile, led all players with five blocks.
His reaction after this one showed just how much he wanted it:
Despite all that, it still came down to the wire.
Once Jason Terry missed a three that would have tied the game with 2.9 seconds left, Wade grabbed the rebound, threw the ball into the stratosphere, and the rest is history.
Wade tallied a game-high 36 points on 10-of-18 shooting from the field and 16-of-21 from the line, 10 rebounds, five assists, a team-high four steals and three blocks en route to the 95-92 victory, the Finals MVP and the HEAT’s first championship.
“I remember Nick Arison telling me at the time when Dwyane got the rebound and threw it in the air, Micky looked at Nick and said, ‘What happened??’ And he said, ‘We just won a championship! We just won a championship!’,” Riley said.
“What a wonderful moment and a breakthrough moment for the HEAT and for that team to be able to win a championship. It was just an incredible accomplishment. It’s one of my favorite[s]. I’ve been a part of nine championship teams, and I wear that ring, 2006, because of what we had a chance to accomplish here in Miami for the first time.”