NBA Champions Crowned
Mavericks defeat Heat in six-game series
After a nine-month season with nearly two months of playoffs, the Dallas Mavericks triumphed over the Miami Heat in six games to win the 2011 NBA Championship. Considered the underdogs of the series, the Mavericks fought their way to the first championship in franchise history.
The Mavericks came back from a 2-1 deficit in the series to take it all in an exciting 105-95 game. NBA veteran Jason Terry led all scorers with a whopping 27 points, and 7-foot German superstar Dirk Nowitzki netted 21.
Despite valiant efforts by the entire Miami team — most notably the "Big Three" (LeBron James, Chris Bosh, and Dwayne Wade) — the Heat failed to pull out a victory in what was truly a game of ups and downs.
Right off the bat, the Heat garnered a nine-point lead. The Mavericks responded by jumping ahead by 12 points. By halftime, though, it was only a two-point game, and the two teams traded leads nine times in the third quarter. Finally, the Mavericks came into their own in the fourth quarter and took the lead for good.
A Stark Contrast
The respective superstars of each team, Nowitzki of the Mavericks and James of the Heat, both faced high expectations going into the series.
Nowitzki overcame injury (a torn tendon in his finger during Game 1) and illness (playing Game 4 with a sinus infection and a 101-degree fever) to be crowned as the Finals MVP, finishing with an average of 27.7 points per game in the series. James, on the other hand, endured a series-long slump, averaging only 23.7 points. "King James," as he is known by Miami fans, experienced significant troubles in the fourth quarter of each game, scoring only 11 points total in the last quarters of the first five games.
This series wasn't the first time the teams from Dallas and Miami faced off. In fact, the Mavericks-Heat match-up was a rematch of the 2006 NBA Finals where the Heat won in six games.
Although Bosh and James were not with the Heat at the time, Nowitzki and Jason Terry were on the losing Mavericks team. They sought revenge in this match-up – and they got it.
The result of this much-anticipated series may have come as a surprise to many basketball fans.
Miami, carried by the Big Three, was the heavy favorite to clinch the series. But it was the Mavericks who prevailed, thanks in large part to Nowitzki and Terry.
With 1.2 seconds left on the game clock, an emotional Nowitzki ran off the court, heading to the clubhouse to gather his thoughts in private. Later, his teammates ushered him back onto the court for a public celebration, where he donned a "2011 Finals Champions" shirt and hat and joined the team in posing with the Larry O'Brien Championship Trophy.
"[The Mavericks] have made a statement that's a colossal statement," Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle said. "Not just about our team, but the game in general. Playing it a certain way. Trusting the pass. Playing collectively. Believing in each other. Our team is not about individual ability, it's about collective will, collective grit, collective guts. We're skilled and talented, too, but our game is on the ground. And the guys we were playing, their game was in the air. Fortunately, as the series went on, we stayed on the ground enough to be able to win it."
To prepare to write this story, Kid Reporter Meggie Zahneis got a crash course in the NBA from her little brother. Check out her post on the Scholastic News Kids Press Corps Blog to see what she learned!
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