Nowitzki, Mavs are too clutch for Heat

June, 13, 2011
6/13/11
3:55
PM ET
By ESPN Stats & Info
ESPN.com
Archive
The Dallas Mavericks won their first NBA championship behind 27 points from Jason Terry and 21 points and 11 rebounds from Dirk Nowitzki. The latter took home the Finals MVP award after averaging 26 points and 9.7 rebounds per game in the series.

Nowitzki is the 11th player in NBA history with at least 10 NBA All-Star appearances, an MVP award and a Finals MVP award. Seven of the other 10 are members of the Basketball Hall of Fame and the other three -- Tim Duncan, Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant -- are near-locks to be enshrined once they are eligible.

Although Nowitzki was outscored by a teammate off the bench in the clinching game, he still scored 10 in the fourth quarter and played well the whole series when it mattered most.

Only O’Neal and Michael Jordan averaged more points in the fourth quarter in the NBA Finals in the past 20 seasons.

Terry struggled in the first three games of the series and went scoreless when guarded by LeBron James in the fourth quarter. Then he questioned whether James could guard him for the entire series and went about proving himself right. He increased his scoring by nearly 50 percent and nearly tripled his fourth-quarter scoring output in the final three games of the series.

Terry’s 368 points were the most by a bench player in a single postseason in the past 25 years, and his 18 points per game was the highest in the NBA Finals for a player who didn’t start a game since Freddie Brown averaged 19.1 for the Sonics in 1978.

While Nowitzki shined, Miami struggled late in games.

The Mavs outscored the Heat 75-49 in the last five minutes of the six games, nearly doubled their rebounding total (29-15) and forced 14 turnovers while committing just six of their own.

In fact, Nowitzki scored as many fourth-quarter points by himself as James and Dwyane Wade combined in the series. In crunch time -- defined as the last five minutes of the game with the score within five points -- he outscored the entire Miami roster.

James went 0-for-7 from the field and went scoreless during crunch time in this series and didn’t even attempt a free throw.

That continued a pattern of decreasing aggressiveness -- he averaged 8.4 free throws per game during the regular season and 9.1 in his first three postseason series. In the NBA Finals, he averaged just 3.3 free throws per game and never had more than four in a single game.

In 86 previous postseason games, James had never come close to attempting so few free throws in any six-game span. In his playoff career, his teams are 4-9 when he attempts four or fewer free throws and 52-27 when he takes five or more.

Prior to the 2011 NBA Finals, under the current 2-3-2 format (which began in 1985) in the NBA Finals, when a series was tied 1-1, the winner of Game 3 won the series 100 percent of the time (11-0). The Miami Heat became the first team in NBA history to win Game 3 under those circumstances and lose the NBA Finals.

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