The 2011 season is done and dusted. Dallas won the championship in 6 games with an inspiring team effort that won over many basketball fans around the globe. The series had everything - close, hard fought defensive games, individual brilliance from Dirk Nowitzki and some expected tandem highlights from LeBron James and Dwyane Wade. But it was the team balance of Dallas that presided in the end. The Mavs provided a better balance on the floor at both ends and had a better contribution from the majority of its roster when it mattered. Here is the series in review from an individual point of view with each player receiving a rating out of 10.
The Dallas Mavericks. Dirk Nowitzki: A deserved Finals MVP. His scoring in the 4th periods of each game was something to behold. His clutch shooting not only kept the Mavs in the series early but proved that he is one of the greats of the game. Rating: 9.5 Jason Kidd: The 17-year veteran had moments in the series both with his trademark passing but also some clutch points from three-point territory. Unfortunately he seemed a little off his games in terms of ball handling and turnovers, leading the Mavs with 3.5 TO per game. Rating: 6 Jason Terry: The Jet was at his best in game 6 when it was all on the line. Needed to lift after a quiet first game. Terry provided offensive relief to Dirk and helped share the load as the series went on. He talked a good game and provided it, averaging 18 points a game at just under 50% shooting. Rating: 9 JJ Barea: Was expected to continue his excellent playoff form but hit a hurdle in Game 1 and appeared to lose momentum before providing the spark that coach Rick Carlisle wanted after he was inserted into the starting line-up from Game 4. Rating: 7 Tyson Chandler: The key big man of the series. Against a somewhat aged and offensively anaemic Heat front court, Chandler provided presence, great offensive rebounding and a steady scoring hand when the Mavs needed it. Scored and rebounded at just under 10 per game and had the most influence of the big men under the basket. Rating: 8 Shawn Marion: The Matrix had the unenviable task of minding LeBron for most of the series and did a fantastic job. He curbed James’ influence in the clutch time of games, while providing an offensive threat to assist Dirk at key times of the series. Rating: 8 Deshawn Stevenson: Will be remembered for his early hat-trick of threes-pointers at the start of Game 6 that negated LeBron James’ hot start. Let his mouth do too much talking at times, but helped Marion provide defense on James as well as adding a spark off the bench. Rating: 6 Peja Stojakovic: Got worked over by the Heat when he played early in the series on the defensive end and was rarely sighted after that. Poor performance after an efficient playoffs up to this point. Rating: 1 [caption id="attachment_1123" align="alignright" width="247" caption="Dallas' Dirk Nowitzki takes a well-earned drink after winning the Finals MVP award."][/caption] Brendan Haywood: Injured for most of the series. Provided some support for Chandler during games but did not affect the outcome of any games. Rating: 3 Ian Mahinmi: Surprisingly got some game time after Haywood went down but had little impact in the series outside of him buzzer-beater at three quarter time in Game 6. Rating: 2 Brian Cardinal: Came on at periods in a surprise rotation when Dirk was rested. Provided defensive pressure and a spark through his limited minutes. He did nail two great three-pointers as well. Rating: 4 Coach Carlisle: A lot has to be said about coach Carlisle, who directed his team well, stayed calm at various stages and provided a game plan capable of winning the championship. His ability to change and adapt his game plan and inserting Barea into the starting line-up coincided with the Mavs playing a more up tempo game. Brilliantly outcoached Miami’s Eric Spoelstra. Rating: 9 The Good: Dirk was all that you want in a great player. He came the clutch in games, scoring an amazing 62 points in the fourth quarters combined, hitting the shots when his team needed them the most. His Game 6 was his worst game shooting-wise, but he still managed to have an impact in the final period, scoring 10 points off 4-5 shooting. He was the one who kept them in the series in Game 2 when the Mavs rallied from a 15-point deficit. Cemented his standing as one of the greatest players in NBA history. The Bad: Kidd’s turnovers where cause for concern, but he still had an impact offensively, especially once he was slid over to the 2-guard position with JJ Barea running the point. His age is catching up with him and may tell next year, but with so many fans, it was great to see him finally get a ring. The Ugly: From Game 1, the Heat took it to Stojakovic’s defence and he practically became a liability on the court and thus his minutes were reduced dramatically. Great coaching from Carlisle to realise this and not let it become a deciding factor in he series. The Outlook: Coming off a championship, it always seems bright and rosy for next season, although an aging roster may see some changing of the guard in the next couple of years.
The Miami Heat LeBron James: After torching Boston and Chicago to make it to his second Finals series, much was expected of LeBron. Unfortunately he didn’t deliver when it counted. His stats were down in points and free throws compared to other series, and he just couldn’t provide the spark in the heat of the battle late in games, preferring to defer the ball to teammates rather than use his intimidating physical frame to drive to the basket. Rating: 6 Dwyane Wade: Fantastic series from Dwyane. Averaged 26.5 points, 7 rebounds and 5.2 assists per game. Before an injury and poor ball-handling late in Game 5 and Game 6, Mavs fans would have had a bad feeling of deja vu whenever Wade had the ball. Rating: 9 Chris Bosh: Provided part of the offense that the Heat required but didn’t have the influence he had against the Bulls. At times seemed to not shoot enough and was non-existent on the boards for long periods.. Rating: 7 Mario Chalmers: The surprise packet of the Heat who provided a spark with his shooting. Ended up starting Game 6 and played big minutes down the stretch. Had just under 12 points per game. Could have earned himself a starting spot next season. Rating: 6 Udonis Haslem: Provided an x-factor early in the series, but limited preparation took its toll. Did provide good defense on Dirk at times. Rating: 7 Mike Miller: No real effect on the series. Seemed limited due to injury. He didn’t shoot well at all. Rating: 3 Mike Bibby: Poor shooting is the easiest way to describe Bibby’s input for the Heat/ Rating: 3 [caption id="attachment_1124" align="alignleft" width="237" caption="Miami's Dwyane Wade gave his all, trying to win his second NBA Championship"][/caption] Joel Anthony: Provided much needed defense inside the paint as well as playing on Dirk at times but showed next to nothing offensively. Rating: 4 Eddie House: Provided an option in Game 6 but was buried on the bench in the first five games. Rating: 2 Juwan Howard:JLimited minutes for the elderly big-man who was simply out of depth. Rating: 4 Coach Spoelstra: Couldn’t get the Heat offense going when it was really needed and called too many isolation plays that the Mavericks were excellent at defending. Inexperience probably came over the coach during the series but it will be a great learning curve for him. Rating: 6 The Good: Dwayne Wade was great the majority of the series but couldn’t provide another huge effort in Game 6. We may have been talking Wade up for MVP honours if he could have found his rhythm and forced a Game 7. The Bad: LeBron James’ 4th quarter efforts. Not enough production from the great man at key times in the games. He now has a long off season ahead of him thinking about “what could have been”. The Ugly: The Heat offense was too stagnant at various stages, slipping into poorly designed isolation plays too early in the shot clock and couldn’t produce the goods when it mattered – down the stretch. Too much standing around waiting for individuals to take over. The Outlook: If the Heat’s offense can catch up with the defense, then there is no doubt this team will go deep again next season. Need a big man inside that can get hard points in the paint.