DALLAS, TX - JUNE 09: Jason Terry #31 of the Dallas Mavericks reacts after he made a 3-point shot late in the fourth quarter against the Miami Heat in Game Five of the 2011 NBA Finals at American Airlines Center on June 9, 2011 in Dallas, Texas. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

Heat Vs. Mavericks, 2011 NBA Finals: Dirk Nowitzki Blasts LeBron, Wade Coughing As 'Childish'

Game 6 of the 2011 NBA Finals is Sunday. The Dallas Mavericks lead 3-2, but the Miami Heat will host the next two games.

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Heat Vs. Mavericks, 2011 NBA Finals: Is Jason Kidd The Key To Dallas' Clutch Play?

The Dallas Mavericks have been great late in the 2011 NBA Finals, repeatedly getting big baskets from Dirk Nowitzki and Jason Terry and great defense on LeBron James and Dwyane Wade in the crucial moments. But Jason Kidd has been plenty clutch, too — and that might be no surprise to the Mavericks.

The Painted Area examines the Mavericks' clutch performance and finds that Kidd's contributions have been nothing short of astounding. While guarding such players as Wade, Russell Westbrook, and Kobe Bryant, he's been a terror on defense, getting 3.6 steals per 36 minutes in playoff games with the score within five points in the last five minutes.

And on offense, with a retooled shot that is many degrees different from his old "Ason Kidd" days, Kidd has been making big shots late in games and facilitating a Dallas offense that executes Rick Carlisle's plays exceptionally well.

Combined, it's a great performance from a future Hall of Fame player. And it might get Kidd his first NBA title.

For more on the championship series, follow our 2011 NBA Finals hub. For more on the Heat, visit Peninsula Is Mightier. For more on the Mavericks, visit Mavs Moneyball and SB Nation Dallas.

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Heat Vs. Mavericks, 2011 NBA Finals: Dirk Nowitzki Calls LeBron James, Dwyane Wade Coughing 'Childish, Ignorant'

With all the NBA chattering class' attention focused on the Heat this season, there have been a few incidents that have blown up into controversies this year. None has been bigger than the one sparked before Game 5, when LeBron James and Dwyane Wade feigned coughs to poke fun at Dirk Nowitzki and the media that turned his cold symptoms into a storyline before Game 4.

It was only going to survive until Sunday's Game 6 with some eye-rolling dismissals from James and Wade before Nowitzki lambasted the move in speaking to reporters, calling it "a little ignorant, a little childish" and saying he's never faked an injury or illness.

Those are strong words — and unfortunately loaded language from Nowitzki, who might not get some of the connotations of a white European player calling black players' actions "ignorant" and "childish." But Nowitzki has a point: Wade's own propensity for dramatic reactions to every nick makes him casting doubt on another's injury hypocritical at best, and James and Wade trying to play the incident off as a non-issue looks bad, too. Sure, Wade's right that many, many media members failed the test of recognizing those coughs as jabs at the media's tendency to blow up storylines, instead taking the bait.

But it looks "unprofessional" and "classless" for Wade and James to be doing that in some minds, and that, along with Dirk's blasting of the antics, just gives many a columnist a new lede before Sunday's Game 6.

For more on the championship series, follow our 2011 NBA Finals hub. For more on the Heat, visit Peninsula Is Mightier. For more on the Mavericks, visit Mavs Moneyball and SB Nation Dallas.

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NBA Finals 2011: Why LeBron James Should Guard Dirk Nowitzki At End Of Games

The Dallas Mavericks have consistently out-executed the Miami Heat down the stretch of games in the 2011 NBA Finals. How can the Heat stop that? Here's an idea: why not put LeBron James on Dirk Nowitzki?

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Heat Vs. Mavericks, 2011 NBA Finals: Miami Seeks To Follows Lakers' Example

In the strictest sense, the 2011 NBA Finals, in which the Miami Heat trail the Dallas Mavericks 3-2, have been exactly like the 2010 NBA Finals.

In 2010, the team with home court advantage -- the Los Angeles Lakers -- split the first two games at home. The Lakers' opponent, the Boston Celtics, dropped Game 3 at home to concede a 2-1 deficit, then stormed back to win the next two at home and take a commanding 3-2. The series shifted back to L.A.

In 2011, the same sequence occurred: Miami split the first pair against Dallas, beat the Mavericks in Game 3 in Big D, and watch the Mavs go back-to-back for a 3-2. The series now moves to Miami with the Heat down two match points.

The Lakers were able to bounce back and win the Finals at home; L.A. blew Boston out in Game 6 and outlasted the C's in a tight, swampy Game 7. Miami hopes to do the same, though no game in this series has been particularly easy for either team. Each of the five games has been a down-to-the-wire affair; winning those consistently is a challenge. That's what has made Dallas so daunting this postseason: they have been doing it all spring long. Miami, too, won an inordinate number of close games in the earlier rounds. They need two more at home. Very recent history is on their side.

For more on the championship series, follow our 2011 NBA Finals hub. For more on the Heat, visit Peninsula Is Mightier. For more on the Mavericks, visit Mavs Moneyball and SB Nation Dallas.

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