There might be some added juice tonight when the Dallas Mavericks and Miami Heat renew their decade-old rivalry on the basketball court. While the names and jersey numbers have changed over the years, the animosity remains rooted in the logo.
Let’s jump in the time machine for a minute. The year was 2011 and the whole world hated Miami’s triplets: LeBron James, Dwayne Wade, Chris Bosh. None more than Dallas power forward Dirk Nowitzki. According to Mavericks guard J.J. Barea, Nowitzki was extra motivated to beat the Heat in the 2011 NBA Finals after he saw a clip of Miami’s superstar triumvirate mocking him for being sick.
He “hated” Miami and let his teammates know how he felt all year, especially in timeouts and at halftime during their championship run. The Mavericks wound up beating the Heat in six games that year as Nowitzki averaged 26 points per game to earn Finals MVP honors.
“He was not going to let us lose,” Barea told the Old Man and the Three show. “The way he prepared the whole year for it. He hated Miami, he hated LeBron, Wade, Bosh. He’s never going to say that, but he couldn’t stand it.”
Barea continued: “But when LeBron and Wade started making fun of him by coughing when he got a little sick and that clip really hurt him. He will never say it, but he really saw the tape, and that tape really hurt him, and that gave him a little bit extra that he didn’t need, but it gave him a little extra to finish them off.”
Jimmy Butler Probable for Tonight’s Matchup
The Heat and Mavericks will meet up tonight as Miami looks to make it two in a row following their 119-108 victory over the Milwaukee Bucks on Dec. 30. Goran Dragic scored 26 points off the bench in that one, with Tyler Herro adding 21 points and 15 rebounds for the Heat.
Jimmy Butler is listed probable and traveled with the team to Dallas. The All-Star guard hasn’t suited up since hurting his right ankle in the season opener and Butler hasn’t logged any minutes since re-aggravating the injury on Christmas Day. The Heat (2-2) has used a different starting lineup in every game so far this season.
“Each situation is different,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra told reporters of Butler earlier this week. “Each player and each injury, you want to treat it with most intelligent response. I thought that was a no-brainer the other night. And then we’ll just see how his body responds with these days of treatment.”
Josh Richardson Reflects on Butler Trade
Meanwhile, the Heat will see a familiar face when Josh Richardson takes the floor for Dallas. The speedy guard spent his first four seasons in Miami — 12.9 points per game, 2.9 assists — before he was sent packing to Philadelphia as part of a blockbuster deal for Butler.
Richardson played one year for the Sixers, then got traded to the Mavericks for Seth Curry in the offseason. The 27-year-old has kind of been through the wringer, something he discussed with reporters the other day. Richardson thinks the “change of scenery” has been beneficial for all parties.
“It was crazy like actually being in a Jimmy Butler trade,” Richardson said, via the Sun-Sentinel. “It was kind of like surreal, because he was one of my favorite players and I was getting traded for him.”
Richardson, a second-round pick of the Heat in 2015, is averaging 13.5 points per game for the Mavericks this season. He’s fresh off a 21-point performance against the Los Angeles Clippers.