Redemption Time for the Mavericks

With a possible lockout looming, the Dallas Mavericks could not have asked for a better opponent in the NBA Finals than the Miami Heat.

What?!?! Are you crazy?!?!

It would make sense for a team to be wary of taking on LeBron James, Dwayne Wade, and Chris Bosh. That trio is a deadly combination of talent, experience, and tenacity. They will not be easy to defeat in four of the next seven games.

In this case, the Mavericks will not necessarily be looking for the easier road to travel, but will be interested in earning a little redemption from the last time they were on this one.

Dallas and Miami fans alike know all too well how things went the last time they met in the 2006 NBA Finals. It was the first trip to the Finals for both teams. The Mavericks were the owners of the third best record in the league with 60 wins under their belts. Miami won a weak division with 52 wins on the season.

There was every reason to believe that Mark Cuban was going to be carrying home his first NBA Championship trophy. After two strong wins at home, all they had to do was take at least one of the next three games in Miami and they would be in good shape when the series returned to Dallas for Game 6.

No fan has to be told that things did not exactly go Dallas’ way. A monster night by Dwayne Wade and a late shot from Gary Payton cost them the first game. A 7-point fourth quarter effort by Dallas capped off a poor game and allowed the series to be tied up.

Game 5 could have turned things around, but instead sent them spiraling down even further. Another monster night from Wade that included a record setting night from the free throw line (21 made free throws) helped send the game to overtime, but it was one of those free throws that gave the Heat the edge and the lead in the series.

Dirk Nowitzki ended up kicking a ball into the stands and was later fined $5000 for the deed. Mark Cuban voiced his opinion of the “quality” of the refereeing in the game and paid the price to the tune of $250,000.

Game 6 was close, but after losing three in a row the Mavericks did not have what it took to pull out the win at home, and instead of them winning their first NBA title it was the Heat.

Ever since than the Mavericks have been one of the best regular season teams in basketball averaging 56 wins over the next five seasons (including this season). Prior to this season the lost in the first round three of the last four years, a deed when combined with their four-game collapse in the 2006 Finals that eventually led to talk earlier this season that the team was soft.

The faces of both teams are still relatively the same. Dallas remains in the capable hands of Dirk Nowitzki. The major players are pretty much the same in Dallas, but the supporting cast is a lot better this time around. Dwayne Wade is still the face of the franchise in Miami, but has now been joined by LeBron James and Chris Bosh, two of the most talented young players in the NBA.

In the Heat, the Dallas have the team that led to their most embarrassing defeat. The faces are not the same, but the sting still remains. With the roster the Heat have, victory will be much sweeter this time around.

Could Dallas ask for a better opponent to play in order to prove that they are anything but soft?

No way. Time for redemption and time for revenge.
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