When LeBron James took his talents to South Beach in 2010 to team up with Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh, a first championship seemed inevitable for the self-proclaimed "King." While James eventually ascended the throne twice in Miami, the 2010-11 Dallas Mavericks made sure to delay his reign with an impressive team effort that blended together a star with the performances of several unsung heroes to claim the franchise's first and only NBA title.
While the Mavericks only won one fewer game than the Heat during the regular season and went 12-3 on their way to the NBA Finals, they were still a decided underdog in the championship round. Dirk Nowitzki was a bona fide star in the tail end of his prime, but not many thought a team relying heavily on veterans like Jason Kidd, Jason Terry, Shawn Marion and Tyson Chandler would be able to stand up to the monster in Miami.
But with the Heat on the verge of going up 2-0 in the series, the Mavericks rallied together and erased a 15-point fourth-quarter lead on the road to throw the series on its head. Terry sparked the rally with six consecutive points, while Nowitzki finished the job with the Mavericks' last nine points, including the game-winning layup with 3.6 seconds left.
Nowitzki and Terry led the comeback offensively, but it wouldn't have been possible without a stout defensive effort that held the Heat to just five points in the last 7:14. This is where Chandler made his mark, with his paint presence deterring drives to the rim and turning Miami into an inefficient jump-shooting team.
The stunning comeback took away the Heat's aura of invincibility, and while the Mavericks lost a narrow Game 3 at home, they proceeded to win the final three games of the series to earn the title. Nowitzki led the way, but Dallas wouldn't have been able to pull off the stunning upset without the contributions of the role players.
Terry scored 27 points in the title-clinching victory and hit numerous clutch shots. Kidd was a steady hand at point guard. Marion and Chandler helped keep LeBron at bay with relentless defensive pressure. And how could we forget the diminutive J.J. Barea, who recorded 32 points and 10 assists combined in Games 5 and 6.
Head coach Rick Carlisle was the mastermind behind it all, devising game plans to stymie the Heat and blending his talent together to form a squad whose whole was more than the sum of its parts. This teamwork allowed the Mavericks to pull off one of the biggest upsets in NBA Finals history.
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Previewing the Cavs-Warriors rematch
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