The Finals Return To Dallas For First Time Since 2006
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DALLAS (AP) – When the Dallas Mavericks last played an NBA finals game at home five years ago, the only current players on that roster were Dirk Nowitzki and Jason Terry.
In that 2006 series, also against the Miami Heat, the Mavericks hosted the first two games at home. They won both to take a 2-0 series lead before losing all three games in Miami and then the Game 6 clincher in Dallas for the Heat.
“Our goal was to win it all since the last couple of years. We came so close in ’06,” Nowitzki said. “We’re just happy to be back on this stage. But Jet to me is a winner. I think he sacrificed for us coming off the bench the last few years where he could be a starter on other teams. That’s ultimately what you have to do if you want to win a championship.”
Game 3 of this year’s NBA finals was Sunday night in Dallas. The teams split the first two games in Miami.
While Nowitzki has spent all 13 of his NBA seasons in Dallas, 12-season vet Terry has been with the Mavericks only seven years. While Terry describes their relationship now as “brotherly,” he was in a unique situation with the big German when he first arrived.
“It’s something that has grown, through our tough times we have grown closer together,” Terry said. “Obviously when I first came here, I was supposed to be the one replacing his best friend, Steve Nash. A lot was made of that. All in all, we’ve come and grown together. Obviously, our chemistry on the court while we’re playing is tremendous. It’s what fuels this team, and then off the court, it’s genuine. We’re always honest and upfront with each other. And that’s why I say it’s like a brothership.”
WILKENS WINS: Lenny Wilkens, one of only three people inducted to the Hall of Fame as both a player and coach, was honored with the Chuck Daly Lifetime Achievement Award.
The award is given by the National Basketball Coaches Association, of which Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle is the president, and named for the longtime Detroit Pistons coach.
Carlisle made the presentation at a press conference before the game that was attended by Wilkens’ friend, Heat president Pat Riley.
Wilkens is second in victories among NBA coaches and is the only person on the list of top 50 players and top 10 coaches. The point guard coached the Seattle SuperSonics to their lone NBA title in 1979.
He also spent 17 years as president of the National Basketball Coaches Association, with Carlisle saying he was a mentor to many coaches.
John Wooden and Bill Sharman are the others with dual Hall of Fame inductions. Wilkens was actually inducted a third time last summer when the 1992 Dream Team was enshrined. He was an assistant to Daly on that team.
HEAT SIX MONTHS AGO: After Miami’s only game in Dallas during the regular season the weekend after Thanksgiving, Dwyane Wade, LeBron James and the rest of the Heat held a players-only meeting. They had just lost 106-95, their fourth loss in five games, and were a disappointing 9-8 overall.
“It’s tough because I know the potential of this team, the vision I had when this team was put together,” Wade said that night when finally arriving in the interview room with James about 45 minutes after the game.
Well, the Heat won 12 in a row after that and 21 of 22.
And they’re back in Dallas for the NBA finals.
SCORELESS STOJAKOVIC: Sharpshooting guard Peja Stojakovic went into Game 3 of the NBA finals still scoreless in the series for the Dallas Mavericks. He had managed only three shots — all missed 3-pointers — in 20 minutes in the first two games against Miami.
“They’re not letting me get my shots. Just be patient and at the same time maybe be a little bit more aggressive and see how it goes,” Stojakovic said. “When you have a role like I have, playing off other guys, you’ve got to wait for your opportunities.”
The Mavericks signed Stojakovic off waivers in January. Caron Butler ruptured a tendon in his right knee on New Year’s Day and hasn’t played since.
Stojakovic played 25 games with 13 starts in the regular season for Dallas, averaging 8.6 points a game. In the first three rounds of the playoffs, he averaged 8.8 points per game and twice scored 21 points — he made all six of his 3-pointers in a series clincher against the Los Angeles Lakers.
“I thought this team had a lot of talent when I joined them,” he said. “We believed. We as a team believed that we had an opportunity to do something nice here and we did it. We are in a position now to play for the championship.”
FREE THROWS: Just before starting introductions, Mavericks fans cheered loudly when on the overhead video screen a man holding a sign that red “Mavs — Do It For Cleveland Too” was shown. … Heat coach Erik Spoelstra has probably watched more than he wanted the last six or seven minutes of Game 2, when Miami blew a 15-point lead and lost. “Quite a few. Quite a few,” he said when asked how many, without getting specific. … As he does often before Mavericks games, owner Mark Cuban was on the main court about three hours before tipoff of Game 3 of the NBA finals shooting jumpers and free throws. … This is the 12th time the Mavericks have split the first two games of a best-of-7 playoff series. They went on to win six of the previous 11 series.