After losing in the 2006 NBA Finals, the Mavericks stormed through the regular season in 2007 and won a franchise-best 67 games but were shocked in the playoffs by the eighth-seeded Golden State Warriors. Over the next few years, Dallas acquired talented players like Jason Kidd and Shawn Marion but continually lost early in the postseason. In 2011, the Mavericks won 57 games and earned the number three seed. In the first round, Dallas took down the Portland Trailblazers in a six-game series to set up a semifinal match-up with back-to-back defending champions the Los Angeles Lakers. The Mavericks won a close first game on the road and shocked the world by sweeping the Lakers in four games thanks to tremendous outside shooting. In the Western Conference Finals, Dallas easily defeated the young Oklahoma City Thunder in five games to reach the NBA Finals for only the second time in franchise history.
The Miami Heat struggled after winning the 2006 NBA Finals, being swept in the first round in 2007 and becoming a lottery team not long after. After an unimpressive first round exit in 2010, the Heat hit the jackpot in the off-season by convincing LeBron James and Chris Bosh to join their friend Dwyane Wade in South Beach and form the “Heatles.” Established as the early championship favorite and league-wide villain behind their three All-Stars, Miami won 58 games in the regular season and entered the playoffs as the number two seed. In the playoffs, the Heat easily beat the Philadelphia 76ers in the first round in five games and the Boston Celtics in a five-game semifinal series. Matched up against league MVP Derrick Rose and the Chicago Bulls in the Eastern Conference Finals, Miami dropped game one on the road before winning four straight games to reach the second NBA Finals in team history.
In the back court, the Mavericks started passing savant Jason Kidd at point guard. DeShawn Stevenson started the first half of the NBA Finals at shooting guard, only to be replaced by Jose Barea in the final three games. Shawn Marion took the starting small forward spot after Caron Butler was lost to injury. All-Star Dirk Nowitzki started at power forward next to Tyson Chandler at center.
Off the bench, Jason Terry was the third guard for Dallas, and Stevenson and Barea both saw time in the NBA Finals as the fourth guard in a short reserve rotation. Ian Mahinmi and Brendan Haywood saw limited time in the championship series as backup big men. Brian Cardinal and sharpshooter Peja Stojakovic rarely played in the Finals.
The Heat utilized Mike Bibby as the starting point guard alongside former Finals MVP Dwyane Wade at shooting guard. In the front court, two-time MVP and former Cleveland Cavalier LeBron James started at small forward alongside former Toronto Raptor Chris Bosh at power forward and Joel Anthony at center.
With a relatively deeper bench, Miami used Mario Chalmers as Bibby’s backup at point guard and former Sixth Man of the Year Mike Miller as the primary backup on the wing. Udonis Haslem provided depth for the Heat in the front court, while Eddie House and JuwanHoward played few minutes in the NBA Finals.
Game One: Mavericks 84, Heat 92
Entering the second half with a one-point lead, the Mavericks quickly stretched their advantage to eight after 7-0 run, but the Heat answered back. Led by Wade and James, Miami on a 14-6 run to close the third quarter to reclaim the lead. Timely shots in the fourth allowed the Heat to keep Dallas at bay in the fourth quarter and win game one at home. Wade, James, and Bosh combined for 65 points, 28 rebounds, and 14 assists to carry Miami. Nowitzki led all scorers with 27 points, and Marion chipped in a double-double, but the Mavericks now faced a 1-0 series deficit.
Game Two: Mavericks 95, Heat 93
The Mavericks led by as much as nine in the first half before Wade capped off a 9-0 run to with a three to tie the game at the break. Early in the fourth quarter, the Heat led by four and forced a series of turnovers and missed shots to embark on another 11-0 run that ended with another Wade three to claim the biggest lead of the game. Dallas answered back over the final seven minutes with a 17-2 run that featured a lay-up in transition by Dirk to tie the game at 90 with under a minute to go. After a Miami miss, Dirk again stepped up with a huge three to take the lead back, but the Mavericks lost Mario Chalmers on offense and allowed him to tie the game back up with a three of his own. On the final possession, Dallas ran down the clock and isolated Dirk on Bosh. The Mavericks star drove and finished with a tough left-handed lay-up that won the game and tied the series after Wade’s last second three missed off the back of the rim. Nowitzki finished with 24 points and 11 rebounds, Marion chipped in 20 and 8, and Terry scored a clutch 16 points off the bench. Wade led all scorers with 36 points and LeBron scored 20 of his own, but the Heat collapsed down the stretch to allow the Mavericks back into the series.
Game Three: Heat 88, Mavericks 86
The Heat led by as much as 14 points in game three, but the Mavericks seemingly had an answer for every Miami run. Midway through the fourth quarter Wade and Nowitzki engaged in a shootout, as Dwyane scored seven straight for the Heat and Dirk scored 12 straight to tie the game with under two minutes left. Chris Bosh hit a long jumper with 40 seconds left that proved to be the difference as Miami held on for the victory. Wade recorded a team-high 29 points and 11 rebounds, and James and Bosh combined for 35 points. Dirk was excellent for Dallas with 34 points, 11 rebounds, and 3 blocks, but the Mavericks trailed in the series again 2-1.
Game Four: Heat 83, Mavericks 86
Bosh played his best game of the series, scoring 16 in the first half to give the Heat a two-point lead at the break. Trailing by three late in the third, Miami embarked on a 13-1 run to grab a seven-point advantage, their biggest in the game. Dallas refused to falter, however, and answered with a 17-4 run of their own. Dirk came up clutch again in the final minute, driving past Haslem for a lay-up to extend their lead to three. Wade answered with a quick dunk, but Terry made two free throws and the Heat couldn’t tie the game in the final seconds. Dirk had a team-high 21 points despite suffering from illness, Chandler and Marion combined for 29 points, and Terry and Stevenson combined for another 28 points off the bench. Bosh and Wade combined for 56 points, but LeBron was largely irrelevant with only eight points on 3/11 shooting as the Mavericks evened the series.
Game Five: Heat 103, Mavericks 112
The Mavericks led early, but Chalmers hit a half-court shot to put Miami up one after the first quarter. Dallas closed the half on a 14-5 run to reclaim the lead at the break and led throughout the second half before the Heat went on an 11-2 run to take back the advantage with under five minutes to go. Terry, Nowitzki, and Kidd all came up with clutch baskets during the final stretch, and Terry hit a dagger three to clinch the win with under a minute and the shot clock winding down, finishing with 21 points off the bench. Dirk scored 29 to lead Dallas, and Barea hit four three’s of his own as the Mavericks took a 3-2 series lead. Wade led Miami with 23 points but missed time to a hip contusion, while James bounced back with a triple-double and Bosh tallied a double-double.
Game Six: Mavericks 105, Heat 95
The two teams traded runs in the first two quarters, but Terry’s 19 first half points gave Dallas the advantage at the break. The Mavericks held the lead throughout most of the second half, and Dirk came alive with 10 points in the fourth quarter to extend the lead to double figures as Dallas clinched the franchise’s first championship with their third straight victory. Terry led all scorers with 27 points, the Mavericks shot lights out from downtown, and Dirk finished with 21/11 despite struggling from the field in the first half. The “Big Three” for Miami combined for 57 points, but the Heat fell in six games. Fittingly, Nowitzki gained redemption for the 2006 NBA Finals and was named the Finals MVP.
A lockout due to collective bargaining cut short the 2012 NBA season. After winning their title, the Mavericks had to let go of key players in Barea, Chandler, and Stevenson. Featuring a mostly new lineup, Dallas earned the seventh seed but was bounced in the first round of the playoffs. In the following years, Nowitzki would remain the only holdover from the championship team as the Mavericks struggled to advance in the playoffs.
After their Finals loss, the Heat refocused in 2012 and again tore through the regular season with 46 wins, earning them the number two seed and LeBron James his third MVP award. In the playoffs, Miami beat the New York Knicks in five games and the Indiana Pacers in six games. In the Eastern Conference Finals, the Heat came back from a 3-2 deficit against the Boston Celtics to reach their second straight NBA Finals.