MIAMI -- Dirk Nowitzki and Jason Terry aren't the only holdovers from the 2005-06 Mavericks. Darrell Armstrong, in the locker room then and on the coaching staff now, doesn't see much difference between the Mavs of five years ago and today's version.
"The mindset is definitely the same," he said. "When you get to this point, you've done a lot in getting where you need to go and playing the way you need to play. It's just that you have different athletes from 2006 to 2011."
A common storyline leading into these Finals paints the current Mavs as more experienced, mature and level-headed when compared to '06 version. Asked if that was accurate, Armstrong wouldn't bite.
"We had a lot of veterans on that team," the assistant coach said. "This team is about the same with veterans and young guys. You get experience from going through [the Finals] like Dirk Nowitzki, Jason Terry and Jason Kidd. You've got the new guys that are going through it for the first time, but you still got the core leaders that have been through it."
Stories of late nights out on South Beach and yacht parties haunt the 2006 Mavs as much as Dwyane Wade's parade to the line, Mark Cuban getting fined and Avery Johnson relocating the team to Fort Lauderdale. The Mavs imploded in their first Finals matchup with the Heat, a fact Armstrong didn't discount.
Most believe the Rick Carlisle's squad will keep their cool better in the face of adversity.
"These guys understand the sense of urgency and the things we need to do to win," said Armstrong, who was an emotional leader in the locker room five years ago. "We had that sense of urgency [in 2006]. We just lost our mojo, we lost our edge and we lost it with six minutes and 39 seconds up 13 going into Game 3."