NBA Finals 2011: The Top 5 Games of the Dallas Mavericks' Championship Run

Sid VenkatramanContributor IIJune 19, 2011

NBA Finals 2011: The Top 5 Games of the Dallas Mavericks' Championship Run

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    Jason Terry's tattoo became reality.
    Jason Terry's tattoo became reality.Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

    For the Dallas Mavericks, the 2011 NBA Playoffs was a roller-coaster ride that ended in the best possible way: an NBA title.

    At the start of these playoffs, the Mavericks weren't projected even to get near the NBA Finals, with some picking Dallas to be upset by their first-round opponents, the Portland Trail Blazers.

    Even after Dallas prevailed, no one gave them so much as a chance against the two-time defending champs, the Los Angeles Lakers. However, the Mavs would go on to sweep the Lakers in a very convincing fashion.

    But skeptics still doubted Dallas's ability to keep up their high level of play against the younger, more athletic teams of Oklahoma City and Miami.

    Yet Dirk Nowitzki and company would continue to prove the doubters wrong, eventually getting the ring that the franchise had been craving for the past decade.

    Throughout the playoffs, the Mavericks were a resilient team that fought for the whole 48 minutes. Time and time again, Dallas would be down in the fourth quarter, only to fight their way back as the game came down to the wire.

    In clutch situations, the veterans on this Mavs team showed that they weren't afraid of the moment with their ability to close out games. This only made Mavericks' games more exciting and fun to watch.

    A huge run was waiting to happen.

    Lets take a look at the top five games of the Mavs' run to the championship in 2011.

5. Game 6 @ Portland

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    The Mavericks would go on the eiliminate the Blazers in six games.
    The Mavericks would go on the eiliminate the Blazers in six games.Steve Dykes/Getty Images

    The Dallas Mavericks' win over the Portland Trail Blazers in Game 6 would allow them to make it past the first round for only the second time in five years.

    This wasn't one of the Mavs' epic fourth-quarter comebacks, but this game almost saw them give one up.

    Prior to this game, Dallas had not shown their ability to win on the road, the team's having lost its first two games at the Rose Garden in the first round. Game 4 was a memorable loss since the Mavs would collapse in the fourth quarter, blowing a 23-point lead.

    Coming into Game 6 in Portland, the Mavericks needed to show their mental toughness by overcoming their devastating loss in Game 4 and closing out the series on the road. Dallas would yet again have a large lead but let Portland make another big run to get back in the game.

    However, this time around the Mavs didn't collapse and closed out the game with clutch baskets from Jason Kidd and Jason Terry.

    This big win on the road would give Mavericks fans a sigh of relief as they didn't have to go through another year of seeing Dallas make a first-round exit.

    The performance and veteran experience Dallas showed on the road would only mark the beginning of the success for Dirk Nowitzki and his teammates.

4. Game 1 @ Los Angeles

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    Mark Cuban celebrates as the Mavericks won Game 1 in Los Angeles.
    Mark Cuban celebrates as the Mavericks won Game 1 in Los Angeles.Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

    Only four days after the Dallas Mavericks had finally won a road game in the postseason, they had to head up to Los Angeles to play the Lakers in Game 1 of the second round.

    This matchup would be the Mavs' first real test of whether they could contend with championship teams and had what it takes to win a title.

    Coming into this game, Dallas was hoping for at least a split to start the first two games of the series, so stealing the first game was key for the Mavs to put themselves in a good position.

    The Game 1 matchup in Los Angeles was the first time the Mavericks found themselves in a huge hole in a postseason game, as they were down by as many as 16 points during the third quarter.

    Coach Rick Carlisle made some adjustments, going with a smaller and quicker lineup to speed up the pace of the game. This gutsy decision would spark a 20-6 run that got Dallas back in this game.

    Kobe Bryant had a spectacular performance, scoring 39 points and keeping the Lakers ahead for most of the second half. At the end of the game, however, clutch shooting from Dirk Nowitzki and excellent defense on Bryant from Jason Kidd would allow the Mavericks to get their first lead of the half with less than a minute to go.

    Dallas would go on to take a 1-0 series lead on the road, which set the tone for the rest of the series.

    The win showed that the 2011 Dallas Mavericks were a different team from years past and demonstrated their resilience in coming back from a huge deficit on the road.

3. Game 4 @ Oklahoma City

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    OKLAHOMA CITY, OK - MAY 23:  Dirk Nowitzki #41 of the Dallas Mavericks drives on Nick Collison #4 of the Oklahoma City Thunder in Game Four of the Western Conference Finals during the 2011 NBA Playoffs at Oklahoma City Arena on May 23, 2011 in Oklahoma Ci
    Christian Petersen/Getty Images

    Again on the road, The Dallas Mavericks would show their grittiness and heart in Game 4 against the Oklahoma City Thunder as they mounted a comeback bigger than anyone would've imagined.

    For the first 43 minutes of this game, the Thunder looked like the hungrier team, one that came to play in order to even up the series at 2-2.

    With the score being 99-84 with a little over four minutes left in the game, fans were thinking that the game was settled as it seemed as though Russel Westbrook and Kevin Durant could not be stopped.

    What people were forgetting about the Dallas Mavericks was two words:

    Dirk Nowitzki.

    His team down by 15 points, Nowitzki took control during the last four minutes, scoring 12 points and forcing overtime by hitting two clutch free throws with six seconds remaining in regulation.

    Shawn Marion and Jason Kidd were both superb on defense down the stretch, not allowing Kevin Durant to get in any rhythm during the Mavs' 17-2 run.

    With the momentum on their side, the Mavericks would go on to win in overtime and cap off one of the biggest comebacks in NBA History.

    Dirk Nowitzki scored 40 points and showed yet again why he is one of the elite players in the NBA.

    Mavericks fans had to feel great about winning in such a hostile environment and the fact that a trip to the finals was in their grasp.

2. Game 2 @ Miami

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    Dirk Nowitzki hit the game winning layup with the three seconds left in Game 2.
    Dirk Nowitzki hit the game winning layup with the three seconds left in Game 2.

    If you thought the Game 4 comeback vs. the Thunder was the last of the miracles for the Dallas Mavericks, then you thought wrong.

    Believe it or not, the Mavs found themselves looking at a 15-point deficit in the fourth quarter again, this time in Miami.

    The "Big Three" were looking every bit of what they said they would be last summer as their star power and talent looked like it was too much for the old Mavericks team to handle. The Mavs were in danger of being down 0-2 in the NBA Finals and needed to come away with another big run late in the game.

    After Dwyane Wade hit a corner three to put the Heat up 88-73, the Mavericks would do just that.

    Jason Terry scored eight points and Dirk Nowitzki scored the final nine points for Dallas during their 22-5 run to finish the game.

    Once again, excellent defense forced LeBron James and Dwyane Wade to take the type of tough shots they aren't comfortable taking.

    The Mavericks also turned the switch on offensively and had excellent ball movement, finding good shots. With the score tied at 90, Dirk Nowitzki made a huge three-pointer to give the Mavs the lead.

    Mario Chalmers would proceed to tie the game with a wide open three off a Dallas defensive breakdown, but once again it was Dirk coming up big by hitting the game-winning layup.

    All of South Beach was stunned while the rest of America was cheering for the Mavericks' huge 95-93 comeback victory. This win officially earned them the nickname, "The Miracle Mavs."

1. Game 6 @ Miami

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    The Dallas Mavericks won the NBA Championship after clinching Game 6 in Miami.
    The Dallas Mavericks won the NBA Championship after clinching Game 6 in Miami.Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

    Yeah I know, this game wasn't one of those fourth-quarter comebacks.

    But what game was better for the Mavericks than the one that won them the NBA Title?

    Ever since the beginning of the Dirk Nowitzki era, Mavs fans had hoped that the Larry O'Brien Trophy would one day come to the city of Dallas. The victory over the Miami Heat in Game 6 clinched the title and allowed Mark Cuban's Mavericks to hoist up that trophy.

    Dallas controlled this game for the most part during the second half and didn't allow for the Big Three to make any late-game comeback. The Mavs proved that it takes teamwork to win championships, not star-studded squads.

    All the demons from the past—namely those from the 2006 NBA Finals—were officially exorcised.

    Both Dirk Nowitzki and Jason Kidd, who had already had hall-of-fame careers, cemented their places as all-time greats.

    Coach Rick Carlisle, Jason Terry, and Shawn Marion, who had all come short of the title in the past, as well as the rest of the veterans finally got the rings they had deserved for so long. Dirk Nowitzki finally got to remove the label of "soft" by winning the NBA Finals MVP award. 

    Mavericks fans can now celebrate because all the disappointments and failures from the past are behind them.