Against a playoff slate that supposedly had them outmatched, the Dallas Mavericks went 16-5 versus the Portland Trailblazers, Los Angeles Lakers, Oklahoma City Thunder, and Miami Heat (8-2 on the road!). They sent Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol home. They sent Kevin Durant home. Sunday night, they sent LeBron James and Dwyane Wade home. Thanks to a multi-faceted offense with inside and outside threats...and creatively disruptive defensive schematics that CONSTANTLY forced opposing stars to shoot from outside their comfort zones...the Mavericks presented a 21-game clinic that may change the way basketball is played across the NBA...
You can give the ball to your star and get out of the way. Or, you can run an offense that gets your best shooters good looks from their favorite spots.
You can hope your toughest defender can deny the stud on the other team. Or, you can study the strengths and weaknesses of every opposing player, every schematic, and every style to keep other teams from running their preferred attacks.
Chess in sneakers beat hero ball. (And Ghidorah never was "King of the Monsters!")
DALLAS 105, MIAMI 95
2-point pct: Dallas 54%, Miami 55%
3-pointers: Dallas 11/26, Miami 7/23
Free Throws: Dallas 12/18, Miami 20/33
Rebounds: Dallas 40, Miami 39
Turnovers: Dallas 14, Miami 16
1's and 2's: Dallas 72, Miami 74
The various post-mortems for the game and the series have discussed the emotions...what it means for Dirk or what it means for LeBron...what it's like to be hated or what it's like to be loved...it's great that so many reporters can keep asking the same questions about WHAT EVERYTHING MEANS! This is HoopData. Let's look at a few stats. I'll try and put together a post-mortem later in the week that goes into even further depth in terms of shot locations, strategies, etc...
Miami led this stat in composite by a 30-27 margin after four games. The Heat had not only neutralized a stat that was supposed to provide an edge for Dallas...they were picking up extra points from long range.
Game Five: Dallas 13, Miami 8
Game Six: Dallas 11, Miami 7
That's +15 and +12 points from behind the arc in a series that had little margin for error. Miami couldn't make up the difference.
Miami led this stat in composite 32-43 after the first three games. Dallas is in big trouble when they lose the turnover category because it's easy for an opponent like Miami to turn those miscues into instant points. Again, there's not much margin or error in a series like this. Miami was up two games to one because they weren't getting beat on treys and they were picking up some extra points in transition.
Game Four: Dallas 10, Miami 13
Game Five: Dallas 11, Miami 16
Game Six: Dallas 14, Miami 16
So, it was 32-43 for Miami in the first three games (lower is better), but then 35-45 for Dallas in the last three. The Mavericks stopped making turnovers...and won three games in a row. You know, it would have been nice if one of the few dozen questions about what it "felt" like in the post-game press conference could have instead been about WHY MIAMI TURNED INTO A TURNOVER-MAKING MACHINE IN THE LAST THREE GAMES!
CRUNCH TIME SCORING
This wasn't an issue in Sunday's Game Six because Dallas had already built a 10-point lead through the first 42 minutes of the game. They just had to hold on, and they did. But, it's still astonishing that one team could dominate another to such an extreme degree in the last six minutes of game action over the course of the full series.
Game One: Miami 17, Dallas 15
Game Two: Dallas 20, Miami 5
Game Three: Dallas 12, Miami 7
Game Four: Dallas 11, Miami 5
Game Five: Dallas 17, Miami 9
Game Six: Dalas 11, Miami 11
Total: Dallas 86, Miami 54
That's +32 points in 36 minutes of action. Pro-rate it to a 48-minute game, and Dallas wins 115-72. Crunch time dominance of this magnitude wasn't supposed to be possible. Not only was it possible. It was the series UNDERDOG that was doing the dominating.
Don't want to get into any guesses about emotions or character. I do think that the numerical represenation of LeBron's sudden passiveness is an important part of the story.
Round One: 16.2 shots per game vs. Philadelphia
Round Two: 21.6 shots per game vs. Boston
East Finals: 18.8 shots per game vs. Chicago
NBA Finals: 15.0 shots per game vs. Dallas
LeBron wasn't needed to dominate against the Sixers. He was extremely authoritative against Boston and Chicago. Versus Dallas? You know the story. We'll look more at shot distribution in a wrap-up piece within the next couple of days. Dallas took away his preferences.
Miami was favored in this series because many were expecting LeBron to be LEBRON. When he wasn't, Dallas became the better team. Most importantly, James was a key factor in the categories we discussed above.
*2 of 12 on treys in the last three games
*14 turnovers committed in the last three games
*Utter invisibility during the "last six minute" collapses
More in a few days. For now, congratulations to the Dallas Mavericks. And thanks for the kindness Mark Cuban showed in taking time to post comments before each series that helped HoopData readers understand what the Mavericks were thinking about round-by-round through their gauntlet of challenges. There were multiple stories out there about how Cuban wasn't commenting to the media. He posted comments here during that "media blackout," and it was greatly appreciated.
Thanks also to all of you have have been with us as readers throughout the season and through the playoffs. I hope the experience was as fun for you as it was for me. See you soon to wrap things up...