If you remember the 2011 playoffs, the only conclusion that comes to mind is that Dallas Mavericks definitely overachieved that season by winning their first ever NBA title. One of the craziest things about that run is the way the dismantled teams who were by many obviously in favor of winning the championship.
Dallas had pieced together a team of veterans that was anchored down by their future Hall of Famer in Dirk Nowitzki.
Jason Kidd and Jason Terry were back as Dirk’s sidekicks and both were in their 30’s. Kidd was actually the oldest point guard to start in the Finals as he was 37 years old. Shawn “The Matrix” Marion was back as the versatile forward and Caron Butler as the second leading scorer on the team.
They also had solid role players in DeShawn Stevenson, Peja Stojakovic, and J.J. Barea. Tyson Chandler was also an important piece of their core team with his defensive capabilities.
Midway through the season, they lost their second best player in Caron Butler. Their backup center, Brendan Haywood got injured for the majority of the Miami Heat series. Peja Stojakovic didn’t play a lot of against OKC and Miami because he lacked the defensive ability.
Their run started against Portland Trailblazers, afterward, they finished off the defending champions Los Angeles Lakers. In the series against the Lakers also birthed the Mavericks Royal Blue-Out games in the AAC, with almost all fans wearing T-shirts that read “The Time is Now”. In the conference finals, they faced off against the up-and-coming Oklahoma City Thunder. And for the grand finale, they put on a clinic against the super team from the east, Miami Heat.
This team surprised several times during the playoffs and prove it’s worth to everyone watching them on a nightly basis. Mavs had a dominant run where they only lost 4 games during their playoff run in the west. A lot of fans still remember how they swept the Lakers in 4 games. In the Conference finals, a young squad from OKC won only one game.
The Heat was coming off their own impressive playoff run in the first season of the formation of their big three in LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, and Chris Bosh. They had become the villains of the league and it was revenge time for the Mavericks.
One of the most iconic moment from that series was game 2 after getting behind by 15 points to Miami. Miami Heat was basically handed the NBA title with more than seven minutes left in Game 2 of the NBA Finals. Mavs managed to fight back being carried by Dirk in a thrilling finish to seal an important win.
They would eventually win the series in 6 games and won their first ever NBA championship. Dallas’ “upset” of Miami was the most surprising Finals outcome in the eyes of many experts since 2004 when the third-seeded Detroit Pistons knocked off the Lakers’ dream team of Kobe, Shaq, Karl Malone and Gary Payton in just five games.
As Dallas Coach Rick Carlisle told ESPN afterward, the Mavs are an “old school bunch. We don’t run fast or jump high. These guys had each others’ backs.”
Dirk would end up winning his only NBA championship and Finals MVP that season. He was the only all-star caliber player on that Mavs team which displayed great team chemistry and unselfish style of play.