Giddy after their Game 7 win Thursday night, Heat coach Erik Spoelsta and supporting star Dwyane Wade tipped their caps to their Finals foe, claiming the San Antonio Spurs offered a tougher challenge than any playoff foe they’ve faced. Never mind the fact that the Mavs won the 2011 Finals in six games, celebrating on Miami’s home court before hitting Club Liv.
“We have as much respect for them as anybody in this league,” Spoelstra said of the Spurs. “And that was the toughest series we've ever been in.”
That essentially echoed the comment made by Wade during the on-court trophy presentation.
James seemed to be alone among the Heat’s central figures in remembering losing to the Mavs. He referenced the offseason work he put in after the Mavs’ defense made him look mortal in those 2011 Finals.
“To be able to put in the work that I've put in since I got out of the cave after that Dallas series and for it to pay off like this, it's the ultimate,” James said after earning the Finals MVP award for the second straight year.
The Heat are now 11-1 in playoff series with James. The Mavs are responsible for the lone blemish on that record after Miami finished off this run with Game 7 wins over the Indiana Pacers and Spurs in the last two rounds.
“As tough as last year was, it seemed like this year was even tougher,” Spoelstra said. “Particularly these last two rounds. We expected that to be tough, and we have the utmost respect for the teams we played.”
That respect apparently doesn’t extend to the only team to eliminate them.