For those keeping score at home: the Dallas Mavericks beat the Heat in the Finals.
Dallas was no chump team though.
Before the Mavs even got to the 2011 NBA Finals, Dallas swept Kobe Bryant and the defending NBA Champion, Los Angeles Lakers in the NBA’s Western Conference semifinals and they also beat a young Oklahoma City Thunder in the NBA’s Western Conference Finals.
If you’re still keeping tabs at home, the Mavs were underdogs in all four playoffs series that they played during their 2011 championship run.
The Heat were heavily favored. Is it possible that they underestimated their opponents? “I don’t want to say we underestimated them,” Mario Chalmers told me on today’s episode of the Scoop B Radio Podcast.
“I just don’t think that we were prepared like we should have been for that zone defense and for their switching. You know I think as Eric [Spolestra] being a young coach, he was still learning; ‘Bron really not being in a position like that where he sees zones and stuff like that, he struggled; so it was more of a learning point for us, you know what I’m saying?”
Chalmers made a big comparison and it makes sense: I’ll take it back to 2006 when Miami played Dallas in the Finals,” he said.
“I feel like Dallas was not prepared for Miami. But when they came the next time in 2011, I think they were more prepared for Miami’s style of play no matter who was on that Miami team. And that next year when we played Oklahoma City, it was just like, ‘Ok. Forget the system, y’all just go play. Be dogs and do what y’all do! If y’all need the system, you know where it’s at’….and I think that’s what kind of separated and the thing that really helped with that was that D-Wade was kind of like, ‘You know what Bron… take over. I got your back if you need me, but take over and be you’ and I think that’s what really got our team and established who the go-to-guy was, but also where everybody else falls around at. I think that’s what made everybody come together and said, ‘Ok. This is my role and I got to do this every night, and if I don’t do this, we have a chance to lose.’ So I think it was just more of a learning thing there more than we underestimated them.”
The Miami Heat did lose the 2011 NBA Finals despite LeBron James’ 15.3 points per game in that series. He also averaged 4.7 turnovers per game in the series—and even admitted to losing his “love for the game.”
In 2012, James would get the last laugh. He and the Heat won the 2012 NBA Finals over the Oklahoma City Thunder.