Source: Hans Deryk/Reuters
The 2010 NBA Free agency was a wild ride with a lot of action and a lot of stars on the market. This offseason changed the landscape of the NBA changed dramatically, with LeBron James and Chris Bosh joining their hombre Dwayne Wade in Miami, the Miami Heat looked to put the NBA on notice and many had already crowned them the champs. I myself was guilty of that. With their big 3 plus role players like Udonis Haslem, Mike Miller, Mario Chalmers and Eddie House, Pat Riley built a team that looked untouchable, or so we thought.
After just 17 games into the season, Miami only won 9 games. Things got so bad the team held a players only meeting and there was wide speculation of Erik Spoelstra losing his job to the teams president Pat Riley. The chemistry needed work, Miami looked like all hype and no business. That changed though because from November 29 to January 12th.
The Heat only lost one game during that span. Who beat them you ask? The Dallas Mavericks, you'll be hearing a lot about them. Miami went from 9-8 to 30-9 having stretches of 12 and nine game winning streaks. That was basically the Miami heat, they'd win 7 in a row no problem but would lose 3 or 4 as well. Miami would finish with a 54-28 record yet finished 2nd in the conference.
The Heat faced the Philadelphia 76ers in the opening round. LeBron James, Chris Bosh and Dwayne Wade went to town against Philly winning the first three games of the series, including a blowout win in game 2. The Sixers avoided getting swept in game 4 but ultimately succumbed to the Heat trio in 5 games. LeBron averaged over 26 points and 10 boards in the opening series. Twice in the series he led the game in scoring and total rebounds.
In the semifinals it was Lebron's arch-nemesis the Boston Celtics. The very team that made the King leave Cleveland to go to South Beach. At this point the Celtics were aging but they still had some gas left in the tank. Miami would beat Boston in game 1 and hold Garnett to just 6 points. LeBron led the way in game 2 scoring 35 points. The Celtics came hard in game 3, especially in the third quarter, routing the Heat, who scored only 81. The Boston Celtics big three showed up, while Miami shot terribly.
The rumblings were there for Boston to show they could still hang with the best in the East. Game 4 was back in Boston and both teams fought hard but it was a big win for the Heat. The momentum swing was huge, instead of the series being tied Miami had the Semis in their sights. In Game 5 the Heat finished off Boston and LeBron finally put down the Celtics. The Heat went on a 16-0 run to close out the series, Lebron slayed the original big three.
Now the Heat had the MVP Derrick Rose and Bulls to deal with on their quest to the finals. However, after game one Miami pulled off 4 straight wins en route to the NBA Finals. The Bulls played well in every game but just couldn’t keep up with the Heatles.
The Heat lost just 3 games in three rounds, but now it was Disco Dirk and the Dallas Mavericks standing between the Heat and a championship. Not many had the Mavericks topping the Heat but game 1 had Dirk Nowtizki leading the way in scoring however Miami still walked away with the win. Game 2 saw both teams coming out of the gates hot. Dwayne Wade hit 21 points in the first half, showing flashes of his 2006 self, but Nowtizki tied the game with a 2-pointer with less than a minute in the game, and then hit the game winner in OT.
As the Mavs tied this series and headed back home the Heat would survive game three, thanks to Dirk missing the tying shot and Bosh and Wade's solid 4th quarter performance. Yet again the story was LeBron James' inability to take over this series. Playing 45 minutes and scoring just 17 points. With a dismal 2 points in the final quarter. Luckily the Heat's bench stepped up. Heat lead the series 2-1.
After letting Dallas into the series the Heat's bench scored the most points they had all series yet the big three surprisingly cooled down. Wade did have good performance in the 4th despite dealing with a hip injury but didn't get much help from LeBron and Bosh. Haslem stepped up when it mattered and LeBron had a triple-double but disappeared again in the 4th quarter. The Mavericks caught fire and edged out another close game.
Just like that, Dallas was in the driver seat and Miami had their backs against the wall. Game 6 was a do or die situation but the Mavs continued where they left off in game 5. They scored 32 points in the opening frame on 50 percent shooting. By halftime the Mavs were up by a basket. It was a tight affair. Though Dallas would start to pull away after three quarters. Wade got into foul trouble and LeBron was continuing his disappearing act. It all came to a head as the Dallas Mavericks were crowned the 2011 NBA champions.
In real time watching this series, I was so disappointed in LeBron. The King looked like he didn't want the ball in his hands, instead felt like he couldn't handle the pressure. Unlike LeBron, Dallas' best players stepped up in key situations when they called upon. The Mavericks showed that sometimes you don't need a team full of superstars to win, you just need the right chemistry to become champions.
People rejoiced as LeBron choked and he responded with shade “At the end of the day,” James said, “all the people who want to see me fail, they gotta wake up tomorrow and have the same life they had when they woke up today. Same personal problems they had today. I am going to continue to live and do the things I want to do and be happy with that.” Wow.