What is that old saying? The ones our fathers love to use? A team of champions will never beat a champion team? When recapping this series, truer words have never been spoken. On one side, we had Dwyane Wade, LeBron James and Chris Bosh. Collectively, the South Beach Big Three had combined for 20 All-Star appearances, 14 All-NBA teams, 6 All-Defensive teams and 2 scoring titles. They had breezed passed Philadelphia, slain their sworn enemies the Boston Celtics in convincing fashion and fought off a Game 1 loss to beat the Chicago Bulls in four straight games to close out the series. In an offseason that featured one of the biggest celebrations in the history of sports and a tumultuous year that was inspected [caption id="attachment_1106" align="alignleft" width="224" caption="Dallas' 38 year-old veteran, Jason Kidd, finally gets the kiss he's waited 17 seasons for."][/caption] with a microscope by anyone who followed the NBA, and a dream run to the Finals for the Miami Heat was exactly what they wanted. To shut the critics up and use the best comeback possible - a world championship. For the NBA, scribes, fans and haters, this series was meant to be about the Heat. The Dallas Mavericks had other ideas. So let’s focus on them. First of all, Dallas’ head coach Rick Carlisle was far and away the best coach in this one. His ability to recognise line ups that weren’t working and make adjustments, both offensively and defensively, was huge in this series. Carlisle adapted his plan and used his high basketball intelligence to full effect, rather than sit back and ride a trio of superstars to a championship he had contributed next to nothing to, tactically. In this series, Carlisle’s greatest move was with JJ Barea. After a poor start, where in the first three games he scored a combined 13 points on 5-23 shooting, diminutive point guard JJ Barea was inserted into the starting line up. What an impact that move had on this series. Like he did in the Los Angeles and Oklahoma City series’, Barea set about dismantling Miami’s interior defense, scoring a combined 40 points over Dallas three game winning streak. What was most impressive about Barea’s productivity was his efficiency, shooting 50% in those three games to go along with 14 assists, after facilitating only 5 in his first three games. Another aspect that helped the Mavericks win their first championship was their production from their bench. Overall, the likes of JJ Barea, DeShawn Stevenson and Jason Terry led Dallas’ bench to 168 points over the series, easily topping Miami’s 117 bench points. Simply out, 3 great players will never beat a team that has as much depth and contributing members as the Dallas Mavericks had in this one. None of these players mentioned are household names, but they were main contributors to what is [caption id="attachment_1107" align="alignright" width="281" caption="Miami Heat leader Dwyane Wade (left) consoles point guard Mario Chalmers after losing Game 6 and the 2011 NBA Finals."][/caption] now a championship-winning team and were just as important as superstar Dirk Nowitzki in toppling a team that many thought were about to embark on a championship-laden dynastic run. Even the likes of Brian Cardinal and Ian Mahinmi, players who were buried on the bench, contributed effectively in the Finals. For the Heat, this is where they should start; they need more contributors. Desperately. Unlike the Mavericks, who got productivity out of nearly every player at their disposal, none of the Heat’s bench players were consistent scoring threats. Sure, Udonis Haslem played well in spurts, as did Mario Chalmers. But Mike Miller was a spectator almost the entire series. The Heat’s bench only outscored their Dallas counterparts in two games. They beat them by 10 in Game 1 and again in Game 5, but only by 3 points. By this stage, JJ Barea had been inserted into the starting line up, taking away his points from the bench production. None of Miami’s bench players averaged more than 11.8 points per contest (which included one start for Chalmers), whereas Dallas’ enigmatic guard Jason Terry had a brilliant series and was huge down the stretch, proving to be Dallas’ perfect second option to complement Dirk, averaging 18.5 points off the bench, including two 20+ point outbursts to close out the series. In a tight, tough Finals, the depth of Dallas may well have been the deciding factor in their championship win. Early in this series, Miami’s much-discussed defense was near perfect, not allowing Dallas’ danger men to get comfortable from range, while limiting them to below 40% shooting in all but one of the first four games. But, like they proved throughout the playoffs, the Mavs are one of the best shooting teams in the NBA. Maybe even the best. In Games 5 and 6, the Mavericks couldn’t miss, shooting 56.5% and 50% from the field over the last two games, including their two highest percentages from three-point land (68.4% and 42%). Unlike the Mavs, Miami aren’t a great shooting team. Like I mentioned in my Game 6 preview, the Heat’s stars only hit jump shots consistently once they’ve damaged the defenses psyche by getting to the rim. Only then, one defenders sag off to protect the drive, do their shots fall This is where credit goes to coach Rick Carlisle and Dallas’ front office for bringing in center Tyson Chandler during the offseason. The 7’1” defensive stopper was so important to the Mavs in this series. His presence in the paint scared (that’s right, scared) LeBron James out of driving to the rim, making him settle for jump shots or defer plays to the other half of the Dyamic Duo. With Chandler manning the paint, Dallas were able to focus on their perimeter defense, holding the Heat to sub-48% field-goal shooting in all but one contest, while frustrating them into terrible three-point percentages. After scoring 11 three-pointers on 46% shooting in Game 1, the Mavericks limited the Heat to 32% from three, while hitting their own at a 45% click. With fantastic shooting coming from the Mavs, while frustrating LeBron James and Dwyane Wade into jump shots, including a putrid 15% combined from beyond the arc in Games 4-6, the Mavericks defense was effectively able to quell James and Wade’s athleticism and force them into earning their points with well-timed jump shots. A concept they couldn’t master. [caption id="attachment_1108" align="alignleft" width="217" caption="The 2011 NBA World Championship and Finals MVP put the cherry on top of Dirk Nowitzki's Hall of Fame career."][/caption] So, now that that’s out of the way, the last thing I need to touch on is Dirk Nowitzki. The Mavericks’ leader. Their Führer. Battling an injury and even a sickness for part of the series, Dirk Nowitzki cemented his place as one of the all-time great closers in NBA history. Standing a shaggy head and shoulders above his opponents, Nowitzki was tough. He was calm. He was a killer. With a relentlessness and edge to his game that many have never seen before, Nowitzki owned this entire series, hitting game-winners and coming up large in the fourth quarter of games, like only the best can do. For the series, the big German sharpshooter scored 62 fourth quarter points, including 10 in the last quarter of Game 6’s close out win. After rough postseason trips since their choke-job in the 2006 NBA Finals, Dirk finally showed that he has ice running through his veins and can close with the Bryants, Birds and Jordans throughout NBA history. So, after a highly entertaining, cat-and-mouse Finals series featuring many ebbs, flows, runs and counter-runs, the Dallas Mavericks have been crowned Kings of the castle. For the Heat, their time has not come to an end. This very well may be just the beginning for one of the most talented trios the NBA has ever seen. But, that’s a story for another season. This one belongs to the Mavericks. Congratulations, Dallas. You deserve it.