First off, congratulations to the Dallas Mavericks and its crew of veterans for getting over the hump and winning a title. Not many people gave them much of a chance in what turned out to be a great series, or even to get this far once the draw of the playoffs was determined. There can’t be any doubt about it, they were the best team when it mattered the most.
On the other sideline, the team with the most talent-the Miami Heat-is left to lick its wounds and wonder what might have been. The opportunities to win a championship were there for the taking. However, time after time the Heat were denied. Much was made of how LeBron James came up small in the fourth quarter, but look at this. Dirk Nowitzki scored 62 points in the fourth quarters of the six games, which was as many as James and Dwyane Wade combined. Yet the whispers were pretty quiet about Wade’s shortcomings; perhaps because he was balling for the rest of the games.
When things got tight, as they often did in this series, the Mavericks did not panic. They stayed true to what they were. It didn’t always work; they did lose 2 games. But it worked well enough for them to win the championship. The Mavericks ran their offense, rarely took bad shots, and often had wide open looks at shots they were not afraid to take, and make. For all of the Heat’s offensive talents, their offensive game plan often relied on taking contested deep jump shots, rather than trying to get to the rim and draw fouls, which was a strength of both Lebron and D-Wade. There were also numerous possessions late in games where the Heat passed up open shots, and often seemed as if they had no clue what to run while they waited for James and/or Wade (maybe even Chris Bosh?) to save them.
And yes, many out there will now get to take their shots (and have done so) at the Heat in general and James in particular. Some folk have been waiting almost a whole year to let out the “gotchas” or “I told you so’s” because the Heat didn’t win the title. That’s too bad-again, I get why the team and James are being made out to be villains. Doesn’t mean I agree with it. Yes, “The Decision” was ham-handed, but what did James do that countless other free agents haven’t done? He went where he thought his chances were better to win a title-and he came close but didn’t quite make it. Depending on when or if there is a next NBA season, you won’t be able to count this team out-they have a ton of talent in their Big 3, they just need some better pieces around them to make it work. A real point guard that is an offensive threat would be nice to start. And yes, someone teach LeBron some post moves-a man with that kind of talent, size and strength should have no problem operating down low-and should never commit an offensive foul on pint-sized J.J. Barea. He should put in work on Barea each and every time that matchup occurs. With a game down low to rival his other-worldly skills for a man his size, he would be a more of a matchup nightmare than he currently is.
Basically, the Heat, with it’s three players among the top 15 in the game, lost to a team with one great player and a bunch of guys who knew their roles and performed them well. You know how adages go: they are always true-unless they are not. In this particular case, the adage in the title is true: the whole of the Heat was less than the sum of its parts-at least in the 2011 NBA Finals.