MIAMI, FL - JUNE 12: (L-R) Dirk Nowitzki #41 and Jason Kidd #2 of the Dallas Mavericks celebrate with the larry O'Brien trophy after the Mavericks won 105-95 against the Miami Heat in Game Six of the 2011 NBA Finals at American Airlines Arena on June 12, 2011 in Miami, Florida. 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 Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)

NBA Finals 2011: Mavericks Take Their Talents To South Beach, Win Franchise's First Title

The Dallas Mavericks didn't need a fourth quarter comeback in Game 6. Jason Terry stepped up, LeBron James disappeared late once again and the Mavs are your 2011 NBA Champions after winning 105-95.

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Mavericks Vs. Heat Game 6 TV Ratings Huge For ABC As Dallas Clinches 2011 NBA Championship

The Dallas Mavericks' 2011 NBA Championship clinching win over the Miami Heat in Game 6 on Sunday drew huge T.V. ratings for ABC, with an overnight rating of 15.0, according to Austin Karp of Sports Business Daily. That means that 15 percent of all American households with televisions were tuned into Game 6, which (luckily for the NBA) came on an otherwise low-key Sunday evening.

Karp reports that the 15.0 rating constitutes the biggest Game 6 ever for ABC, and beat 2010's Finals Game 6 between the L.A. Lakers and Boston Celtics by 22 percent. A year ago, the Lakers blew out the C's to even the series up at 3-3 and force a Game 7, which the Lakers won.

Game 6 of the 2006 NBA Finals between the Mavericks and Heat -- in which Miami clinched its first title -- only drew a rating of 10.1. Every game of this year's rematch did better ratings than the best game in 2006.

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Mavericks' 2011 NBA Finals Win Further Proves That Superstars Run The League

The Dallas Mavericks are the 2011 NBA Champions, beating the Miami Heat in six games. But that's not an indictment of building around superstars. In fact, it bolsters the current paradigm.

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LeBron James Fails, Dirk Nowitzki Prevails, And The NBA Finals Have A Happy Ending

LeBron James and the Miami Heat losing the 2011 NBA Finals made Dirk Nowitzki and the Dallas Mavericks winning it even sweeter, and a classic series full of great stories gave us the happiest ending of all.

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NBA Finals MVP Dirk Nowitzki 'Still Really Can't Believe' Dallas Mavericks' Championship

With the Dallas Mavericks' NBA Championship win on Sunday night, Dirk Nowitzki was selected as the NBA Finals MVP, becoming the third foreign-born player to win the honor, joining Hakeem Olajuwon and Tony Parker. In receiving the trophy from Bill Russell (the award's namesake), Nowitzki told the crowd he couldn't believe that after 13 years in the league and 11 playoff runs, the Mavericks had finally won the championship.

Nowitzki averaged 26 points per game in the Finals, boosting his regular season scoring clip (23 points per game). He also increased his rebounding from 7.0 per game to 9.6. His shooting (51 percent in the regular season, 41 percent in the Finals) did drop precipitously, though.

He was the only real option for Finals MVP; Tyson Chandler, whose defense was simply amazing all series long, maybe have been the next best candidate. There was some early consternation in the Finals about whether LeBron James or Dwyane Wade would win the Finals MVP had the Miami Heat won the title. That proved to be a needless worry.

For more on Dirk's amazing run, visit Mavs Moneyball and SB Nation Dallas.

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Mavericks Are 2011 NBA Champions, Making Rick Carlisle Just Third Active NBA Coach With Ring

With the Dallas Mavericks' 2011 NBA Championship win on Sunday, head coach Rick Carlisle becomes just the third active coach in the league with a ring on the sideline. He joins the San Antonio Spurs' Gregg Popovich and Boston Celtics' Doc Rivers in that newly exclusive club. Phil Jackson, who won 11 titles at the head of the Chicago Bulls and Los Angeles Lakers over the past 20 years, retired after Carlisle's Mavs eliminated L.A. in the second round this season.

The other recent NBA championship head coaches -- Larry Brown with the Detroit Pistons in 2004 and Pat Riley with the Miami Heat in 2006 -- has each moved on, Brown as the coach of the New York Knicks and Charlotte Bobcats and now in retirement, and Riley to his old perch as president of the Heat.

Carlisle also joins Jackson in the exclusive club as men who won titles as both a player and coach, though the Mavs' boss played sparingly in the Celtics' 1986 championship run. Carlisle won the championship in his ninth head coaching campaign, and in his third season with the Mavericks. Some considered Carlisle to be on the hot seat a year ago after the Spurs bulled the Mavericks out of the playoffs in the first round, but Dallas management never seemed to seriously consider replacing the coach. In tenures with the Mavericks, Pistons and Indiana Pacers, Carlisle now has a postseason record of 53-46.

For more on the Mavericks' epic run, visit Mavs Moneyball and SB Nation Dallas.

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NBA Finals 2011: Mavericks' Defense Limits LeBron James To 20 Free Throws Over Series

Dirk Nowitzki deserves to be remembered as the hero of the Dallas Mavericks' 2011 NBA Finals win, and really, the entire 2011 playoffs. Nowitzki led comeback after comeback in the postseason, and his Game 2 Finals performance stands out among the greatest ever. But this series was as much about stopping the powerful Miami Heat -- and their ace LeBron James -- as anything. And Dallas succeeded in that beautifully.

The Mavericks made keeping LeBron out of the paint a top priority, using early help to convince James to pull up for a jumper or pass the ball. It worked. For the series, James -- the NBA's top perimeter foul-drawer over the past several years -- attempted just 20 free throws. As noted earlier, LeBron has had 14 single games in his NBA career where he's attempted 20 or more free throws. Even this season, as a dual threat with Dwyane Wade, LeBron drew 22 free throws in a regulation game against the Boston Celtics back in November.

LeBron averaged 8.4 free throws a game in the regular season; that would have projected to about 50 over a six-game series. He had fewer than half. Not only did Dwyane Wade (49) and Chris Bosh (45) shoot more than twice as many free throws as James, but even Mario Chalmers (23) had more attempts despite roughly half of many field goal attempts and 100 fewer minutes played. Three Mavericks -- Dirk Nowitzki (46), Tyson Chandler (32) and Jason Terry (28) took more free throws than James; that Chandler made exactly as many as James took is something out of a sci-fi novel.

Credit the awesome Mavericks defense and coach Rick Carlisle for finding a way to shut down a two-time MVP in his prime on the biggest stage in basketball.

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LeBron James On Heat Loss To Mavericks: 'I'm Not Going To Hang My Head Low'


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In his post-game remarks after the Miami Heat were eliminated by the Dallas Mavericks, LeBron James remained rather defiant if understandably deferential to the new NBA champions. James, who had a team-high 21 points in Game 6, said that he and the Heat worked hard enough to get here and win a championship.

"I'm not going to hang my head low," James said. He followed that up by addressing the legions of sports fans who dislike him following the pomp and bombast of both his "Decision" last July and the Heat's celebration rally for fans. LeBron repeated a few times that he felt upset that he didn't perform at his best during the NBA Finals because it hurts him and his teammates. He also admitted that falling short of the NBA Championship represented a "personal failure."

"Any time you feel like you get to the top of the mountain and you fall off, that's definitely a personal failure," he said.

LeBron did commend the Mavericks' "underrated" defense, and credited it with keeping him out of the paint and off of the foul line. James had just 20 free throws in the Finals; he's had 20 or more in a single game 14 times in his career.

For more on the Heat, visit Peninsula Is Mightier.


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Dallas Mavericks Become 16th NBA Franchise To Win Championship

The Dallas Mavericks were one of those unfortunate NBA franchises that had never won a championship ... until Sunday. The Mavericks knocked off the Miami Heat in six games, completing the deed in a 105-95 victory in South Beach on Sunday. That win gave the Mavericks their first title ever, taking the team of the list non-title franchises.

Dallas became the 16th different franchise with a banner in the NBA; famously, very few franchises -- the Chicago Bulls, Houston Rockets, San Antonio Spurs, Los Angeles Lakers, Detroit Pistons, Miami Heat and Boston Celtics -- have claimed the past 20 titles. The Mavericks also become just the seventh Western Conference team to claim a title.

The Sacramento Kings have the longest NBA Championship drought at 60 years; the Kings won the 1951 title as the Rochester Royals. The Phoenix Suns hold the record for longest existence with a title at 43 years; this was the Mavericks' 31st season. The Suns, Cleveland Cavaliers, L.A. Clippers, Utah Jazz, Denver Nuggets, Indiana Pacers and New Jersey Nets each have more than 30 seasons in the NBA but no titles.

For more on the Mavericks' title win, visit Mavs Moneyball and SB Nation Dallas.

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Mavericks Vs. Heat: Dallas, Miami Fans React To Mavs' NBA Title Victory


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The Dallas Mavericks defeated the Miami Heat in Game 6 of the NBA Finals to win the 2011 NBA Championship Sunday night. (Head here for complete coverage of the game.)

As you might imagine, Mavs fans were a little excited. The foks over at Mavs Moneyball took great delight in recounting the final moments of their team's first NBA Title:

With the clock ticking down, Dallas defense took on a new level of insane, forcing turnovers and blocking shots. They even managed some second chance points thanks to a few offensive rebounds. The Mavericks began playing with the clock, running it down before they took their shots. They had a nine point lead with just under three minutes to play, and then Dirk, with hands in his face, hit a beautiful jump shot. It was at this point that Heat fans quietly began to file out of the arena. Ladies and Gentlemen, may I present to you, your 2011 NBA Champions, the Dallas Mavericks.

Meanwhile, forlorn Miami Heat fans are left to wonder what could have been as they look ahead to next season. Heat blog Peninsula Is Mightier thinks the Heat have more story to tell but can't overlook the fact that head coach Erik Spoelstra got out-coached.

The shooting was really amazing to watch, though quite hard from a Heat fans perspective. The Mavs D was just as good, keeping Miami off balance and uncomfortable for a good part of the series. Make no mistake, the Heat will be back, but you have to hope that they learn some very valuable lessons in this one because they were definitely out-played and while I think Erik Spoelstra did a good job, he was still out coached by Carlisle, who couldn't seem to make a wrong move.

For more on the series, visit 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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DeShawn Stevenson Ends Up As Most Important Figure In Mavericks' Josh Howard Trade

At the 2010 NBA trade deadline, the Dallas Mavericks, looking for an edge down the stretch, pawned off injury-prone Josh Howard and role players for two-time All-Star Caron Butler, stud defender Brendan Haywood and a little albatross with an Abe Lincoln tattoo named DeShawn Stevenson. Stevenson's inclusion in the deal was part of the incentive for the Washington Wizards to execute it; to swap a star like Butler and solid piece like Haywood for a question mark like Howard required a bit of sweetener. Dallas taking Stevenson served as such.

Fast forward 16 months, and Stevenson was easily the most valuable of the Wizards' three for Dallas in the NBA Finals, which the Mavericks won over the Miami Heat on Sunday.

Butler, of course, suffered a season-ending ligament tear back in January; the injury sent the Mavericks into a bit of an identity crisis, as Dallas coach Rick Carlisle tinkered with various line-ups to shore up the small forward position. (The Mavericks eventually signed Peja Stojakovic and Corey Brewer to cover. It didn't work, though Stojakovic was effective against the Los Angeles Lakers. Instead, back-up combo forward Shawn Marion took over the starting small forward spot.)

Haywood signed a rich extension last offseason ... before the Mavericks traded for Tyson Chandler, one of the best defensive centers in the game. That knocked Haywood to the bench; he averaged a career-low 18.5 minutes per game during the regular season. He suffered a hip injury early in the Finals, and played just 25 minutes in the series.

But Stevenson? He left an imprint on the NBA Finals.

The enigmatic wing started at shooting guard for the first three games of the series, but the Mavericks trailed 2-1. Carlisle replaced Stevenson with J.J. Barea, looking for more offense in the starting five. That actually served to kickstart Stevenson's own offense a bit, and the Mavericks went on to win the next three games. For the series, Stevenson played 17 minutes a game. He took 24 shots all series, and 23 of them were three-pointers. He hit 13, more than any other Maverick (including Jason Kidd and Jason Terry); only Mario Chalmers hit more for either team (14).

Stevenson's imprint continued in Game 6: he hit three vital three-pointers in five attempts, providing a nice spark in 12 minutes of play. He also got into a shoving match with Udonis Haslem and friends that somehow resulted in the Mavericks getting a free throw. Maybe DeShawn Stevenson just makes the players around him better?

In the future, scholars will see photographs of Stevension's Lincoln tattoo and question whether he was sane. Right now, that doesn't matter, for DeShawn is a champion.

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Jason Terry Comes Though In Clutch, Much To Dirk, Dr. J's Delight

Following Game 3 of the 2011 NBA Finals between the Dallas Mavericks and the Miami Heat, Mavs star Dirk Nowitzki decided to try and lit a fire under teammate Jason Terry's butt by calling him out.

"Jet (Terry's nickname) hasn't really been a crunchtime, clutch player for us the way we need him to," Nowitzki said Monday. "We have to find a way to get Jet some freedom and get him off some movement, and he's got to make some shots for us."

In Game 6, with Dirk slumping early, Terry was as clutch as he'll ever be in his life, scoring 19 points in the first half and carrying the Mavericks until Nowitzki finally turned it on the second half. Dallas won the game 105-95 and claimed the NBA title.

Whether Terry was motivated by Dirk's words, we don't know yet. However Dirk wasn't the only person reaching out to Jet and offering words of encouragement. NBA legend Julius "Dr. J" Erving also apparently motivated Terry.

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Not lacking for support, Jason Terry proved himself clutch and then some.

For more on the series, visit 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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VIDEO: LeBron James, Chris Bosh Wear Hearts On Sleeves After Heat NBA Finals Loss To Mavericks

In case you thought that the spectacle and bombast of the Miami Heat meant the troika of All-Stars were cold, heartless men, you were wrong. Following their Game 6 elimination at the hands of the Dallas Mavericks on Sunday, LeBron James and Chris Bosh broke down into tears on their walk to the locker room.

The Heat famously had tears in their locker room following a regular season loss to the Chicago Bulls; coach erik Spoelstra spilled that secret in order to illustrate that human hearts beat in the Heat's chest. It's annoying that this is something that has to be proven (and also that some will consider it an act of sissiness), but to quote every athlete ever: it is what it is.

Bosh remained composed in his post-game press conference, and handled most questions by complimenting the Mavericks in general, and Dirk Nowitzki specifically. He commended the effort and focus the Mavericks showed during the Finals.

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LeBron James A Remarkable Minus-24 In Mavericks' Championship Win Over Heat

LeBron James led the Miami Heat in scoring in Game 6, a 105-95 loss to the Dallas Mavericks that settled the 2011 NBA Finals with a 4-2 Mavs victory. James shot 9-15 from the floor, hitting his first four shots and looking  as aggressive as ever.

But the Heat were almost inexplicably outscoured by 24 points in LeBron's 40 minutes on the floor. In the eight minutes with James on the bench, the Heat outscored the Mavericks by 14 points. Much of that damage was done by Eddie House as Heat coach Erik Spoelstra rested LeBron for an extended stretch in the second quarter; the rest included the delay caused by the scuffle between DeShawn Stevenson and Udonis Haslem. After the delay, Spoelstra kept James on the bench for a few more moments as Miami fought back from a nine-point deficit.

Plus-minus is a stat that suffers when looked at on a per-game basis, and LeBron has been among the league's best in plus-minus over the past five or so years. That said, it's a glaring number impossible to ignore, even if we can't quite figure out what it means.

For more on the Heat's crushing loss, visit Peninsula Is Mightier.

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Dirk Nowitzki Named 2011 NBA Finals MVP After Mavericks Beat Heat For Championship

Dirk Nowitzki was named the 2011 NBA Finals MVP after his Dallas Mavericks knocked off the Miami Heat in Game 6 of the championship series on Sunday. The Mavericks won 105-95 in Miami on Sunday; Nowitzki had 21 points and 11 rebounds in victory. He had shot just 1-12 in the first half, but his teammates -- most notably an electric Jason Terry -- held the fort and Dallas led by two at halftime. Dirk exploded in the second half, scoring 18 points on 8-15 shooting, including a couple of ridiculous makes down the stretch.

For the Finals, Nowitzki averaged 26 points and 9.7 rebounds per game. Nowitzki becomes the third foreign-born player to win Finals MVP, joining Hakeem Olajuwon (who won two with the Houston Rockets) and Tony Parker, who took the Russell home in 2007 as the San Antonio Spurs won the title over LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers.

For more on Nowitzki's huge finish, visit Mavs Moneyball and SB Nation Dallas.

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Heat Vs. Mavs, Final Score: Dallas Takes Talents To South Beach, Wins NBA Title With 105-95 Victory

For once, the Dallas Mavericks didn’t need a fourth quarter comeback against the Miami Heat in the 2011 NBA Finals. All they had to do was ensure that the Heat didn’t have one of their own.

LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and the rest of the Heat didn’t show up in the fourth quarter as the Dallas Mavericks won Game 6 and the 2011 NBA Title with a 105-95 victory.

Jason Terry led the Mavericks with 27 points in a game-saving performance. Dallas needed Terry to step up as Dirk took time to get out of a funk. Nowitzki finally did, finishing with 21 and helping the Mavs seal the deal.

For the Heat, LeBron finished with a team-leading 21, 8 of which he scored in the fourth quarter. However, once again, much of that was too little too late. Dwyane Wade added 17 and Chris Bosh scored 19 but the Heat never turned it on in the fourth.

For Dallas, it is their first NBA crown and revenge for the 2006 NBA Championship, which Miami won by defeating Dallas.

Now the Mavs return to Dallas where they’ll be heroes not only to their hometown but also many fans in Cleveland, happy to see LeBron James lose in such a fashion. As for LeBron and the Heat, it’s gonna be a long off-season in South Beach.

For more on the series, visit 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. Mavs, Game 6 Update: LeBron James, Miami Running Out Of Time

LeBron James and the 4th Quarter. Heading into Game 6 of the NBA Finals between the Miami Heat and Dallas Mavericks, it’s been the story of the series.

If things keep up, it will be the story of LeBron James’ pro career until he proves otherwise.

With 5 and half minutes remaining, the Heat still trail the Mavs by 7 and their chances are fading with every possession that James and his castmates don’t take over the game.

If you believe in the +/- stat, you’ll be horrified by James’ -21, the only Miami starter in the negative. He has 18 points and only four in the 4th quarter so far. That killer instinct we’ve all been waiting for refuses to show up and the team that seemed destined to win the NBA title this season is five minutes from falling short.

Click here for live Mavs-Heat score updates. For more on the series, visit 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. Mavs, Third Quarter Score: Jason Terry Stepping Up, Mavs Lead 81-72

With one quarter left in Game 6 of NBA Finals between the Miami Heat and the Dallas Mavericks, Jason Terry and the Mavs are in prime position to win their first NBA Title and send the Heat into an off-season of turmoil.

Terry has 21, Dirk has 11 points and 7 boards and the Mavs lead 81-72 at the end of the third quarter.

Chris Bosh leads the Heat with 16, though its an even attack throughout. LeBron has 14, Wade has 13 and Chalmers has 10.

The Mavs are shooting slightly better than the Heat (.500 vs. .491) and if they can keep that up, they’ll take home the title.

Click here for live Mavs-Heat score updates. For more on the series, visit 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. Mavs, Game 6 Update: Chris Bosh Scoring As Dirk Nowitzki Arrives

The story from the first half of Game 6 has continued early in the second: one team goes on a wild tear, then the other counters. The Dallas Mavericks started the third quarter hot, rumbling to a seven-point lead, before the Miami Heat drew it back down to two points. And with about four minutes left in the third, Dallas leads 71-65.

Dirk Nowitzki has sort of started to sputter to life offensively, up to four-of-18 shooting after a hideous first half. He has 10 points, tying him with J.J. Barea and Shawn Marion behind Jason Terry among Dallas' leading scorers.

Chris Bosh is up to 16 points and five boards, missing just one field goal attempt all game.

Click here for live Mavs-Heat score updates. For more on the series, visit 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. Mavs Halftime Score: Dirk Nowitzki Invisible, But Jason Terry Red Hot

Dirk Nowitzki has hit just one of his 12 field goal attempts in Game 6 against the Miami Heat, good for three points. He has as many personal fouls as he does points from the floor. But the Dallas Mavericks lead on the road, 53-51, largely in part to 19 points from Jason Terry, who's missed only two shots.

LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh have combined for 29 points, with Wade adding six assists and six rebounds on his way to a potential triple double.

You might not be able to remember a more back-and-forth game, especially not in the NBA Finals. Each team has held a lead of nine points or more, with Miami's 14-0 run in the second quarter giving way to a Dallas surge just before the half. 

Oh, and there was a minor spat that resulted in some technical fouls.

Click here for live Mavs-Heat score updates. For more on the series, visit 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 Score, Game 6: Miami Sprints To Second Quarter 42-40 Lead

Game 6 of the 2011 NBA Finals has been a game of streaks. The Miami Heat have led by nine. The Dallas Mavericks have led by 12. The Heat went on a 14-point run in the middle of the second. LeBron James and Chris Bosh have nine points along with -- guess who? -- Eddie House.

Dirk Nowitzki has been ice cold. He had to sit for much of the first quarter after incurring a pair of fouls, ans missed six of his first seven field goal attempts. DeShawn Stevenson and Jason Terry have nine each, but Dallas is going to need its best player to produce results if they're going to weather a game like this.

Click here for live Mavs-Heat score updates. For more on the series, visit 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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Dallas Mavericks Storm Past Miami Heat To Close Game 6 First Quarter

The Dallas Mavericks started the first quarter of Game 6 looking up at the Miami Heat, but a late charge -- with Dirk Nowitzki on the bench due to foul trouble, no less -- gave Dallas the 32-27 advantage at the end of the period. LeBron James, who started the game by nailing his first four shots, missed a three and turned the ball over twice in the final two minutes.

Jason Terry leads Dallas with nine points, followed by J.J. Barea and Shawn Marion's six apiece. James has held steady at nine points since very early on, with Chris Bosh's seven points also staying the same for quite some time now.

Click here for live Mavs-Heat score updates. For more on the series, visit 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 Update, Game 6 Score: Jason Terry Sparks Dallas Within Two

The Miami Heat looked unstoppable through much of Game 6's first quarter, with LeBron James and Chris Bosh combining for 16 points early on. Jason Terry came in for J.J. Barea around the five-minute mark, and within a minute had scored twice and forced a Miami timeout. The Heat led 22-20 with around four minutes left in the first before a three by Brian Cardinal gave Dallas the lead again.

Terry nailed a jumper, then countered a rare (tonight, at least) LeBron miss with a long three-pointer.

Dallas needed somebody to step up after Dirk Nowitzki had to sit with two early personals.

Click here for live Mavs-Heat score updates. For more on the series, visit 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. Mavs, Game 6 Score: LeBron James Dominating In First Quarter

The Miami Heat opened Game 6 against the Dallas Mavericks with a strong edge on the boards, giving themselves enough second chances to counter an awkward shooting start by Mario Chalmers. Chalmers took the floor at tip-off instead of Mike Bibby.

Miami ran out to a 5-2 lead, with LeBron James scoring five (not six!) points, with Dallas knotting it back up 10-10. James hit his first four shots to give himself nine quick points and Miami a 14-10 edge at the first timeout, with about eight minutes left in the first quarter. The Mavs haven't been able to do much on offense besides J.J. Barea's wacky, hurtling layups. 

The Miami crowd does sound a little bit louder than it traditionally has. Way to go, Heat fans.

Click here for live Mavs-Heat score updates. For more on the series, visit 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. Mavs, Game 6 Time, TV Schedule, Odds And More

Game 6 of the 2011 NBA Finals tips off shortly after 8 pm ET on ABC, with the Dallas Mavericks needing a road win to knock out the Miami Heat and take their first-ever NBA championship. Can Dallas get it done, or will Miami be able to force a Game 7 despite going into battle with a wounded Dwyane Wade?

SB Nation Dallas realizes the Heat are favored to take the win, but Mavs Moneyball says the Mavericks are ready:

[Shawn Marion's] answer just about summed up the way we all feel about our team right now: "We know what we're capable of, and we know what's at stake here and we wouldn't be here if we didn't believe in ourselves." Mavs fans... start believing.    

Peninsula Is Mightier is concerned about Wade, but is counting on that home crowd to ... well, to act like a Dallas home crowd. Heat fans point out how close Miami has been to taking just about every game its lost as of late. Can Sunday night's home court advantage make the difference?

Click here for live Mavs-Heat score updates. For more on the series, visit 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, Game 5 Adjustments: Look For The Roll Man Late, Go Back To Trapping Ball Screens

Returning home for Game 6, the Miami Heat have found themselves in a 3-2 hole in the NBA Finals, a situation that requires them to win two games in a row at home against the Dallas Mavericks.  If the Heat want to win Game 6 to force a Game 7, they are going to have to make a few adjustments on both sides of the basketball.

Offense: Look For The Roll Man Late

Once again, the Heat's offense in the final minutes struggled in Game 5.  It wasn't as bad as the other games Miami has lost (in my opinion, Miami's poor defense was more to blame for the loss), but to me, the Heat are still struggling in terms of shot selection.  Maybe the best example for this is the Heat's pick and roll play in the fourth quarter of Game 5.

In the fourth quarter, Miami scored 12 points on 10 pick and roll possessions.  That looks really good.  Breaking it down further, you can see why they were so successful.  When the Heat hit the roll man (six times), they scored nine points.  When they didn't (four possessions), they scored just three points.  Instead of settling for jumpers coming off of screens, Miami needs to be aggressive and look for the roll man.

The reason why the roll man is so open against Dallas is because of who is coming off of the screen (either LeBron James or Dwyane Wade).  With all of the attention going to James or Wade, the roll man has a pretty easy roll to the rim:

On all of these pick and rolls, you can see how focused the defense is on Wade or James as he comes off of the ball screen.  When that happens, the roll man is able to come open, get the pass, and finish at the rim (or draw the foul).

Where Miami's pick and roll game struggled is when the ball handler (either James or Wade) ignores the roll man and looks to force the issue themselves:

On these three possessions, you have the roll man open and available for the pass.  Instead, you have the ball handler trying to turn the corner or settle for the three point shot.  The result is a miss or a turnover (Wade actually hits a three-point shot, but it is one of those "fool's gold" situations where it is a bad shot but a make).  

This is the one area where Miami was really exploiting Dallas on the offensive end.  If they continue looking for the roll man, they should continue to have success.  

Defense: Go Back To Trapping Ball Screens

In Game 5, Dallas really hurt Miami with their pick and roll offense.  The Mavericks ran the pick and roll 33 times, scoring a whopping 49 points off of those possessions (good for a PPP - points per possession - of 1.48, well above their regular season average of 0.94).  Out of those 49 points, the Mavericks scored 24 points off of three-point shots.  It is interesting to see Miami struggle defensively with the pick and roll, because it is something they are so good at defending usually.  

In the Eastern Conference Finals, the Heat trapped Derrick Rose every time he came off of a ball screen, really negating his effectiveness. This wasn't an unique situation, but their defensive strategy for most of the season.  However, while playing Dallas, the Heat have gotten away from trapping the ball handler due to their fear of trapping off of Dirk Nowitzki when he sets screens.  Miami's strategy of playing the pick and roll differently than they are used to really hurt them in Game 5, especially when J.J. Barea was the ball handler.  The Heat decided to go under ball screens when Barea was using them, allowing him to pull up and knock down threes (he hit four of them in Game 5):

When the Heat are going under ball screens, they are allowing Barea time and space to survey the situation and make proper decisions.  In Game 5, that decision was to use the space to pull up for a three-point shot.

In my opinion, the Heat need to go back to trapping guys like Barea when he comes off of a ball screen.  During Game 5, the one time that they did trap Barea, they forced him into a turnover:

With the defense quickly showing on Barea, they are able to force him to pick up his dribble and make him make a quick decision.  The result is Barea trying to throw a pinpoint pass that sails out of bounds.  Another reason to go over ball screens with Barea?  His shooting in the paint.  According to HoopData.com, Barea is 7-22 inside 10 feet during the Finals.  The reason why the Heat go under Barea's ball screens is because they fear his speed, but if he isn't hurting you when he is getting in the lane, why try to prevent him from doing it (especially when he is hurting you so much going under screens)?

Barea probably won't shoot as well in Game 6, but if you continue to give Dallas' ball handlers space when coming off of screens, you are putting your defense at a disadvantage.  

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Dwyane Wade Ready For Game 6 After Hip Injury

The Miami Heat are down, 3-2, to the Dallas Mavericks in the 2011 NBA Finals, but in Sunday's Game 6 Dwyane Wade will be on the court after playing through Game 5 with a hip contusion. In fact, don't even think about that hip injury is the mantra entering the contest.

Of course, it's hard to forget Wade crashing into the Mavs' Brian Cardinal and eventually making his way off the court to go to ground. He didn't re-enter the game until four minutes had gone by in the second quarter, but the pain didn't end then. Wade was still in the locker room when his teammates went back out for the third quarter. He did return a few minutes later into the second half.

Should the series end on Sunday night, will there be questions as to how serious this injury was? Is Wade trying to play the hero? Find out tonight at 8 p.m. ET on ABC.

For full championship series coverage, visit our 2011 NBA Finals hub. For more on the Heat's do-or-die Game 6, visit Peninsula Is Mightier. For more on the Mavericks' championship quest, visit Mavs Moneyball and our regional hub SB Nation Dallas.

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Miami Heat Have Odds Against Dallas Mavericks In Game 6 Of NBA Finals

The Miami Heat have dropped two straight to the Dallas Mavericks and lost the teams' last NBA Finals meeting at home (Game 2, 10 days ago). But despite that, the Heat are favored by 5.5 points for Game 6 on Sunday, an elimination game in which the Mavericks can clinch their first NBA Championship ever.

The Mavericks were one-point favorites at home for Game 5, and won after a late-game flurry on offense. A year ago, the Los Angeles Lakers faced the same situation that the Heat do: down 3-2 with the final two games of the series at home. L.A. blew out the Boston Celtics in Game 6, and won a tight Game 7 to take the title.

For full championship series coverage, visit our 2011 NBA Finals hub. For more on the Heat's do-or-die Game 6, visit Peninsula Is Mightier. For more on the Mavericks' championship quest, visit Mavs Moneyball and our regional hub SB Nation Dallas.

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Heat Vs. Mavericks, Game 6: Brendan Haywood Will Be Game-Time Decision In Potential NBA Finals Closeout

The saga of Dallas' frontcourt reserves is one of the NBA Finals' unsung subplots. And for the fourth straight game, it seems that Mavericks center Brendan Haywood's status won't be known until about tipoff.

ESPN Dallas reports that Haywood, who has been nursing a right hip flexor since sustaining it in Game 2, will be a game-time decision for Sunday night's Game 6. Haywood had been an effective backup to center Tyson Chandler throughout the NBA playoffs, but missed Games 3 and 5, and played just three minutes in Game 4.

Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle has been able to cover for Haywood with both Ian Mahinmi and Brian Cardinal, and has been helped by Chandler upping his minutes. Chandler's 16-rebound performance in Game 4 was a big boost for Dallas, and Cardinal's four points and decent defense in just over nine minutes in Game 5 were a substantial contribution.

For more on the series, visit 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: NBA Finals Been Among Closest Playoff Series Of Past Nine Years

ESPN's Stats and Info team looked at the average scoring margin of the five games in the book in the 2011 NBA Finals between the Miami Heat and Dallas Mavericks in comparison to other playoff series since 2003 (when play-by-play data became widely available). The Finals have been the second closest series in that span, with an averaging scoring margin at any given second in any given game in the series being 3.62 points. Only the 2007 Eastern Conference Finals between the Detroit Pistons and Cleveland Cavaliers (starring, of course, LeBron James) has been closer, with an average margin of 3.34.

When you account for the margin of games won to games lost to give long, competitive series a boost, this series is third, behind the 2007 ECF and 2009's battle between the Chicago Bulls and Boston Celtics that saw tons of overtime.

The Stats and Info group found that the average score margin for all playoff games since 2003 is 7.44 points. The highest average score margin for any of the Finals games in this series is 4.89 in Game 3, where the Heat led by 14 late but won by just two.

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Heat Vs. Mavericks, Game 6: LeBron James', Miami's Season Comes Down To This

The grand story of the Miami Heat, built on a July evening that had a country glued to their TVs and hating every minute of it, could see its first chapter written on Sunday, as the Heat face elimination against the Dallas Mavericks in Game 6 of the 2011 NBA Finals (8 p.m. ET, ABC). Miami dropped two of three in Dallas after taking a 2-1 series; LeBron James performed far below his standard in each of the losses, and the Mavericks were able to excel in the closing minutes to capture victory.

The Heat's only loss at home this entire postseason came to Dallas in Game 2; Miami is 9-1 at home for the playoffs. The Game 2 loss came on a magical Dirk Nowitzki-led comeback, which is hardly a surprise after what the perennial All-Star has done all postseason. Miami needs to stop him two more times to come back itself. Otherwise, Dirk can help the Mavericks clinch an NBA Championship five years after he left Miami heartbroken in the 2006 Finals.

Dwyane Wade has been extraordinary in the series, and Jason Terry and J.J. Barea came around for Dallas in Game 5. Tyson Chandler has also proven integral, and Jason Kidd does so many Jason Kidd things a game it's hard to keep count. But in the end, what LeBron does will take precedence, appropriate because no small number of casual NBA fans is watching this series because of LeBron.

Will he be aggressive all game long? Will he resort to jumpers and deference? Will Miami's offense thrive down the stretch, or crumble? If it's the latter, that'll be it for Miami, and that first of seven predicted championships will have to wait at least a year.

For more on the series, visit 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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