Mar 28, 2012, 12:55 PM EDT
Heat-Mavericks wasn’t what it was cracked up to be on Christmas Day, and it won’t be on Thursday night either.
At least when cast as an NBA Finals rematch.
Oh, the Heat still start the same lineup they started in Game 6 in the 2011 NBA Finals, the night the Mavericks won the NBA championship at AmericanAirlines Arena, the venue for Thursday’s nationally televised game.
But from the start this season these Mavericks haven’t been those Mavericks. Not even close.
And that, to a degree, pits the rivals in a different sort of competition when it comes to one-hit wonders.
Neither the 2006 Heat (who defeated the Mavericks in those NBA Finals) nor the 2011 Mavericks were expected to win championships. Neither were viewed as potential dynasties once the confetti fell.
But the divergent paths could yet serve as a model for future one-hit wonders when it comes to when to say when.
Despite several shaky moments on the way to that 2006 championship, Pat Riley, known for his organizational loyalty, opted to return with his Heat roster relatively intact, with veterans Antoine Walker, James Posey and Gary Payton brought back. By the midpoint of that season, Walker and Posey were suspended for conditioning issues. By the end of that season, Gary Payton wasn’t merely saving his invectives for the opposition.
Contrast that to the forward-thinking approach of Mark Cuban, who allowed Heat Finals tormentors Tyson Chandler and J.J. Barea to depart in free agency, with DeShawn Stevenson also permitted to move on.
What we’re seeing now is what we saw at the end of 2006-07 with the Heat, a defending champion scrambling for playoff seeding. The Heat were swept in the first round in 2007 by the Bulls. The Mavericks, based on their potential opening-round seeding, could be facing the same fate.
But the Mavericks also are flush with potential salary-cap space, Deron Williams-level cap space.
Their championship prospects could wind up on an up-down-up curve.
The Heat post 2006? Not only didn’t they win a playoff game in 2007, but they ended 2007-08 with a league-worst 15-67 record, not to win another playoff series until last season’s run to the Finals, leaving them more up-down-down-down-down-up.
Thursday night, the not-nearly-the-same Mavericks return to AmericanAirlines Arena for the first time since exiting last June with the Larry O’Brien Trophy.
The shine this time isn’t nearly as bright.
But the future might be, something that couldn’t have been said about the post-championship, post-2006 Heat.
Apr 27, 2015, 9:01 PM EDT
Washington’s averaged defender distance to the Toronto shooter was 3.55 feet, the closest defense any team played in the first round of the playoffs.
Apr 27, 2015, 7:58 PM EDT
The doctor will decide if microfracture is needed while doing a scope.
Apr 27, 2015, 7:17 PM EDT
The Cavs will be without two starters for the first two games of next round.
Apr 27, 2015, 6:59 PM EDT
Davis was +35 when playing while Green sat, -55 while Green was on the court at the same time.
Apr 27, 2015, 6:22 PM EDT
He would have been key against the Bulls to help space the floor.
Apr 27, 2015, 5:45 PM EDT
Olynyk finds common ground with Clevelanders
Apr 27, 2015, 4:59 PM EDT
Stats show Boston defended LeBron well, he just hit the shots anyway.
Apr 27, 2015, 4:15 PM EDT
I say Smith should get at least three games.
Apr 27, 2015, 3:44 PM EDT
They need the swelling to go down to get a sense of his return,
Apr 27, 2015, 3:07 PM EDT
Preview socks for the Cavaliers, Heat, Spurs and Warriors
Apr 27, 2015, 2:29 PM EDT
Cavaliers gave him a chance to wait by sweeping Celtics
Apr 27, 2015, 1:49 PM EDT
Rockets lost closeout game to Dallas
Apr 27, 2015, 1:12 PM EDT
Wallace owed more than $10 million next season
Apr 27, 2015, 12:26 PM EDT
What does Walker’s cratered draft stock say about Billy Donovan?
Apr 27, 2015, 11:45 AM EDT
If that was their plan, they executed it well
Apr 27, 2015, 11:03 AM EDT
Isaiah Thomas played, um, creative defense
Apr 27, 2015, 10:24 AM EDT
Celtics were reportedly gaining ground before Kelly Olynyk
Apr 27, 2015, 9:46 AM EDT
Wizards forward started talking before series, hasn’t stopped
Apr 27, 2015, 9:07 AM EDT
Celtics forward: ‘I would never intentionally hurt Kevin or anyone else’
Apr 27, 2015, 8:30 AM EDT
Somebody looks a lot more comfortable with no Rajon Rondo around.
- PBT Extra with NBASavant.com: Wizard’s defense peaking at right time 0
- Report: Chandler Parsons to have knee surgery, could require microfracture surgery 3
- Cavaliers’ J.R. Smith gets two-game suspension for shot to Jae Crowder’s head 27
- PBT Extra with NBASavant.com: Draymond Green helped hold Anthony Davis in relative check 4
- Cavaliers’ Kevin Love out for entire conference semifinals (likely vs. Bulls) 9
- PBT Extra with NBASavant.com: LeBron got his shots despite good Celtics defense 3
- PBT Extra: For how long should J.R. Smith be suspended? 34
- Report: If Kevin Love leaves Cavaliers, Lakers are team to beat in free agency 32