Last summer the Miami Heat decided to build their team around three players as they complimented their All-Star guard Dwyane Wade through Free Agency as they acquired LeBron James and Chris Bosh. Miami suddenly had arguably two of the top five players in the Association in James and Wade and an All-Star in Bosh. They hoped that the three core players would be enough top lead them to an NBA Title and after Sunday night when they defeated the Dallas Mavericks 88-86 they are now two wins away from completing their mission.
Their opponents in the 2011 NBA Finals, the Mavericks are a much more well-rounded team which is what got them past the defending NBA Champions the Los Angeles Lakers as well as the Oklahoma City Thunder. Although All-Star forward Dirk Nowitzki is clearly the player who sets the tone on the team he has been helped throughout the Post Season by clutch performances from his teammates. Reserve guard Jose Juan Barea was a key factor in Dallas sweeping the Lakers in the second round of the series while Jason Kidd despite his age also was instrumental in getting Dallas to the Finals. Others have stepped forward for the Mavericks including Jason Terry, Shawn Marion, Tyson Chandler and veteran Peja Stojakovic.
However the reason that the Mavericks now trail in the Association’s Championship round is in their two losses although Nowitzki has played superbly but his teammates have not answered the bell. Dirk knocked down a game high 34 points Sunday night but only two other Dallas players scored in double-figures, Jason Terry with 15 points while Marion added 10 more in the loss. If this trend continues throughout the Finals, Miami will walk away from the series with the Larry O’Brien trophy in their possession.
As we have witnessed in the first three games of this match-up; this series has two evenly matched teams as both games two and three have been decided by just two points. Dallas engineered a stunning comeback in game two and almost repeated the act Sunday night. They would have had Nowitzki had more help from the rest of his roster. However if it comes down to a three on three game with the Heat going with Wade, James and Bosh while the Mavericks counter with Dirk, Terry and Marion then Dallas will go down to defeat.
This series is far from over but if the Mavericks hope to walk away with their first NBA Title then they will need for the players who have not come through so far in the Finals to step up their games. Dallas has a weapon they can exploit in center Tyson Chandler who had a strong night in the Mavericks win but was not aq factor in the team’s two losses. Chandler is a talented center and the Heat truly have no one on their roster who can contain him if he can put another strong performance together.
Kidd and Barea also need to sharpen their games as the pair should be doing far better against the Miami choice of point guards which consists of Mike Bibby and Mario Chalmers. Kidd had a decent game Sunday night but so far Barea has been missing in action since the series began last Tuesday night.
If the Mavericks play “team-basketball” as they had earlier in the Playoffs they can put up their first NBA Championship banner in the rafters of the American Airlines Center next October at the start of next season. However if they continue to give Nowitzki the lack of support he has had in the two losses so far once again it will be a repeat of 2006 and they will have to watch the Heat celebrate their second NBA Title at their expense.