*a 5 min read*
The 2011 NBA Season. The season Lebron James made “the decision” and joined the Miami Heat. The season following the Los Angeles Lakers 2010 NBA Championship. The season was supposed to be the Heat and the Lakers in the NBA Finals, where Lebron and Kobe would finally meet on the biggest stage. There was a lot of speculation about Lebron claiming his first NBA championship but what people didn’t know was that Dallas had a fantastic team. They put their abilities on display when they dominated in the playoffs capturing the Larry O’Brien Trophy.
The Dallas Mavericks, and no, not the Modern-day Mavericks with the tandem of Luka Doncic and Kristaps Porziņģis. I am talking about the 2011 roster that consisted of many veteran players. This team had it all, from a great coach in Rick Carlisle to one of the best point guards to ever play the game in Jason Kidd. Great wing defenders in Shaun Marion and Caron Butler, to great rebounding bigs, including Tyson Chandler and future Hall of Famer Dirk Nowitzki. And not to mention, they had outstanding shooters, including Peja Stojakovic and Deshawn Stevenson.
2011 NBA Playoffs
The average age for the Dallas Mavericks in 2011 was 29.4. Because of this, many people believed that this team wouldn’t be as effective as they were last season, but how many times have we seen teams prove critics wrong? (2020 NBA Champions: Toronto Raptors) During the regular season, the Dallas Mavericks finished with a record 57 wins and 25 losses, placing them at the 3rd seed in the tough western conference. In the previous season, they finished second in the conference but fell short early in the postseason. The Mavericks would play the 6th seeded Portland Trail Blazers, the 2nd seed Los Angeles Lakers, and the 4th seeded Oklahoma City Thunder in the 2011 NBA Playoffs.
In the first round of the NBA playoffs, the Mavericks would play the 6th seeded Portland Trail Blazers, the fourth playoff meeting between both teams. During the regular season, the teams had met four times, splitting the season series apiece. Dallas went onto win the first two games of the series, but Portland fired back, tying the best of seven series at two games apiece. Dallas would win the next two behind Dirk Nowitzki’s outstanding scoring performance in both games 5 and 6, putting up a stat line of 25 points in game 5 and 33 points 11 rebounds to close out the series in 6.
In the second round of the NBA playoffs, Dallas would take on the 2010 NBA champions the Los Angeles Lakers. Both teams came in with the same regular-season record, finishing with 57 wins and 25 losses. The Mavs vs the Lakers was a highly anticipated matchup for the western conference semi-finals. Many expected Kobe to dominate this series as they already beat the Hornets. At the time, Dallas had nobody to match up properly with Kobe, but they still did a tremendous job keeping him under 20 points after the first 2 games.
In the series’s first game Kobe would score 36 points. Dallas was down much of the game and came back from a 16 point deficit behind Dirk’s 28 points and 14 rebounds to win the game. The Mavericks had more assists and out-rebounded the Lakers for most of the series. Unexpectedly, the Mavs would go onto sweep the previous champions beating them 4-0 in the best of 7 series, shaking up the playoffs massively. In game 4 Dallas equalled a playoff record for threes made at the time with 20. The Lakers eliminated left the final spot in the west up for grabs. Who would get that final spot? Let’s find out.
The western conference finals in 2011 was a battle between the Oklahoma City Thunder and the Dallas Mavericks. Oklahoma had the young trio of Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and James Harden. Each of these players being superstars today. At the time, nobody thought they would be as great as they are, but they were still very dominant even at their young age. In-game 1 of the conference finals, Dirk Nowitzki set a record for free throws made in the playoffs without a miss with 24. They won the game as well, but Kevin Durant put up 40 points and thoroughly exploited the Mavericks’ defense.
Throughout the series, Dallas had trouble keeping up with them as they had rallied from behind a few times. The Thunder won the very next game and many believed that they had the advantage because of their talent. Any basketball player or fan would know that experience plays a much larger role in winning then talent. The Mavericks, already being in the playoffs many times, knew what it took to make it to this stage, so they did not come up short. The Mavs would go onto win the next few games winning the series 4-1 over Oklahoma City. They took advantage of what they had and moved onto the biggest stage of all – the NBA Finals.
In the 2011 NBA Finals, Dirk Nowitzki and the Dallas Mavericks took on Lebron James and the Miami Heat. This was the second time both teams met in the finals; the last meeting was in 2006 when the Heat beat them 4-2 behind Dwayne Wade’s tremendous efforts. This time it was different. Miami’s super team featured the trio of Lebron James, Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh. Both teams matched up pretty well and had each other’s number on both sides of the ball. Even though this was not the finals matchup that many anticipated, it was still a battle for the ages.
The series would go back and forth until tied at two games apiece after game 4. The Mavs would then put out the Heat, quieting Lebron James closing the series out in game 6. An unlikely contender, the Dallas Mavericks won their first-ever NBA championship, and it was one for the record books. Future Hall of Famer Dirk Nowitzki added to his resume in style, winning finals MVP and claiming his first NBA Championship ring.
The 2011 NBA Champions Dallas Mavericks are living proof that anything is possible even when people continuously count you out. After their finals run in 2006, nobody pictured they would ever make the finals again. But look, now they have an NBA Championship under their belts, and now it’ll be forever in the history books. The picture above looks great but do not let those smiles fool you. A lot of work is put in day in and day out to reach this stage. Nothing is handed to you in the NBA. Dallas understood that battled against many great teams and earned the right to compete and win an NBA Championship.
Since 2011 the Mavericks haven’t been as good. Most of the veteran players that were there have retired. Dirk Nowitzki has entered father time and has retired, but as of late, the tables have started to turn for them. The tandem of stars Luka Doncic and Kristaps Porziņģis, is a step in the right direction for franchise. Under Mark Cuban this franchise’s future is in good hands.