Blazers\ Carmelo Anthony Slims Down Ahead Of Switch To Small Forward


David J. Phillip/Associated Press

The Heat entered the 2011 Finals with one of the most talented trios in NBA history. They not only had LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh, but all three players were also on the right side of 30 and still within their primes.

The Mavs didn't seem like they were in the same weight class. They countered the Heat's three stars with their one, Dirk Nowitzki, who had failed to steer Dallas out of the opening round in three of the previous four years. The Mavs had decent depth around the Diggler, but their roster lacked the name recognition, explosive athleticism and showmanship of their opponents'.

Dallas looked very much the part of underdogs after sandwiching Games 1 and 3 losses around a Game 2 win that required the club to wiggle out of a nine-point deficit in the final four minutes. But for all the star power Miami possessed, the Mavs had the series' best player in the sweet-shooting 7-footer.

Nowitzki claimed Finals MVP honors with averages of 26.0 points and 9.7 rebounds. Jason Terry shined as a second option while pairing his 18.0 points per game with a tidy 49.4/39.3/75.0 shooting slash line. Tyson Chandler manned the middle, Jason Kidd controlled the offense, and Shawn Marion molded his way into any cracks that needed filling.

The Mavs may not have been the more talented team, but they had chemistry on their side. That mattered once their resolve was tested with that 2-1 series deficit. Dallas avoided the panic button, and once it proved capable of hitting back, this team went about showing it belonged. The Mavericks closed the series with three consecutive wins, as Nowitzki proved a nightmare cover for whomever was unlucky enough to draw that assignment.

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