Five years later, Nowitzki and Mavs get a second shot
Back in the NBA Finals, back to trying to beat the Miami Heat. Pretty wild how things have worked out for the Dallas Mavericks, isn't it?
Back in the NBA Finals, back to trying to beat the Miami Heat.
Pretty wild how things have worked out for the Dallas Mavericks, isn't it?
"It doesn't really matter that much to me," Dirk Nowitzki said.
Oh, well. So much for the story line of seeking redemption for 2006, when Miami beat Dallas in the Finals.
Nowitzki emphasized another point: This isn't about the Heat and what they do. It's about the Mavericks continuing to do the things that have helped them win 10 of their last 11 playoff games, including five straight on the road.
"We just got to go for it and do the things that got us here - aggressive defense, rebound the ball, and ball movement on the offensive end of the floor," he said.
In the regular season, the Mavs and Heat tied for the most road wins. There was only a one-game difference in overall wins - 58 for Miami, 57 for Dallas; that's why the series is starting on the Heat's court. Had they had the same record, the Mavericks would've had the edge because they won both head-to-head meetings.
Because those games were in November and December, Dallas coach Rick Carlisle insists they don't matter. Still, it's worth noting those were Miami's only two losses in a 24-2 stretch that proved to everyone this experiment of superstars who are good friends teaming up to win a title just might work.
The backlash from that pairing - and the way LeBron James handled his move to Miami last summer - produced a huge group of Heat haters. Those folks are now Mavs lovers, a cuddly acceptance that's unusual for this franchise.
"There's no good guys, bad guys," Nowitzki said. "There's two good teams that made it to this stage and both want to win. So I'm not really worried about all that stuff."
Nowitzki was a free agent last summer, too. Teams didn't pursue him because they were so sure he would remain in Dallas. But he admitted he would have listened had James and Wade invited him to be part of what they were putting together.
"But they didn't, so it wasn't really an option," he said.
For some former MVPs, such a snub would be another reason to hold a grudge against the Heat.
A few weeks shy of turning 33, all he cares about is winning his first championship and the first for his franchise, no matter who it comes against or how.
"I like how we fought through some stuff, some ups and downs through the years," he said. "It took us a long time to get back here. Hopefully, we can make it count."