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How Dallas defeated the Miami Heat

Congratulations to Dirk Nowitzki and also to the Dallas Mavericks. Few gave them a chance entering the postseason, but they have all rallied around their star to reel off victories against the Blazers, Lakers, Thunder and the Miami Heat. There are a number of factors that have been encapsulated in Dallas’ playoff run which were the reason for their tremendous victory, here are a few that have influenced the Mavericks stampede to the title:

Offensive Efficiency 

In the regular season Dallas had an offensive efficiency rating (points per 100 possessions) of 107.6 points and a defensive efficiency of 102.3 which saw them with a +5.3 differential. In the Playoffs they upped their offensive efficiency to 110.1 and their defensive efficiency increased to 103.4, but overall their differential was up to +6.7 in the Postseason.


Offensive Efficiency

Defensive Efficiency


Regular Season






103.4 +6.7

When you consider that you are playing against the best teams in the Conference in the Playoffs, when possessions are fewer and defenses are naturally better, to make better use of your possessions and up you offensive efficiency is quite impressive. Especially when you compare this to Miami, their offensive efficiency dropped from 109.3 in the regular season, to 104.0 in the Playoffs.

Nowitzki has been so effective in the NBA Playoffs. Photo: Mark Redford


While talking about efficiency, it’s interesting to note that for Dallas’ in the regular season, the number of possessions in their games was 93. In the postseason, where the game is slower and possessions are more valuable, games involving the Mavericks have averaged 88. A drop off of 5 possessions a game, which from the numbers above, means that Dallas has made better use of their possessions through their increased offensive efficiency numbers.

Points off Turnovers

Once Dallas got a handle on the turnover battle in the Finals, they were able to win three straight games with the points they generated from these turnovers:


Dallas Team Turnovers

Miami Points off Dallas Turnovers

Games 1,2,3



Games 4,5,6





Miami Team Turnovers

Dallas Points off Miami Turnovers

Games 1,2,3



Games 4,5,6



In Games 1, 2 and 3 of the Finals, Dallas had 45 and Miami scored 62 points from these, compared to Miami committing 35 turnovers which resulted in 43 Dallas points (+19 to Miami). Miami should have won all three of these games, but as we all know they blew that 15 point lead in Game 2 in the last six minutes, which would have seen them up three games to zero.

In Games 4,5 and 6 Dallas only committed 36 turnovers, which resulted in 37 Miami points. The Heat on eth other hand would commit 50 turnovers which would result in 66 Dallas points (+29 to Dallas) and Dallas would win all three games.

Dallas has shot so well at the FT line. Photo: Keith Allison/Flickr

Free Throw shooting 

We documented in our ‘Keys to the Finals’ article how Dallas was shooting a high number of free-throws and at an extremely efficient percentage – particularly Dirk Nowitzki. In the Finals, Dallas attempted 187 free-throws, shooting them at 78%. Miami only shot 148 free-throws at 72%. The result, 40 extra points for the Mavericks.

Crunch time scoring 

Jeff Fogle of Hoopdata has been following the scoring in the last six minutes of all games as a key to how the NBA Finals have gone. This has been another stat that tells a bigger story as Dallas has outscored Miami 86-54. This is when stars are supposed to come to the fore and demonstrate their ‘clutch-ness.’ Dallas was clutch, Miami was not, simple.

Three-point Shooting

Another key to the series we highlighted was Dallas’ three-point shooting. Once the Mavs started to take, and make, more long-bombs from downtown, they took control of the series and the destination of the Larry O’Brien trophy.


3pts made

3pts %

Games 1,2, 3



Games 4,5,6



Closing out Games 

Miami’s failure to close out Game 2 when leading by 15 points with seven minutes to go has been well documented, they also failed to close out Game 4 when up by 9 in the final quarter. Failing to close out your opponent twice in the Finals, at this level of competition in a seven game series is fatal. Dallas failed to close out Miami when heading for a 3-0 series lead in 2006 and they lost 4-2. Miami really should have been up 3-0 this time and would also end up getting beaten 4-2.

LeBron James 

As we have previously posted, after regal performances against Chicago and Boston, ‘The King’ just wasn’t ‘The King’ in the NBA Finals. Only 15 shots attempted per game, down from 21 against Boston, to 18 versus Chicago to just 15 against the Mavs. This saw his points per game drop from 28 against Boston, to 25.8 against Chicago to a measly 17.8 against Dallas. Was it fatigue? Was it psychological? Was it the constant double-teams? Was it the fact that the Dallas defense forces him away from his favoured spots on the floor? We’ve looked at these before, so we shouldn’t take away from Dallas’ achievement here.

Dirk Nowitzki has been Redirkulous. Photo: Keith Allsion/Flickr

Dirk Nowitzki 

If LeBron James was subdued in the Finals, Dirk was simply awesome. He averaged 27.7ppg in the Playoffs, after averaging 23.0ppg in the Regular Season. A significant step up, but he did up his minutes per game from 34.3 in the regular season to 39.3 in the Playoffs, so shouldn’t we expect this? Well, yes we should, but even If you equate his regular and postseason numbers over a 48 minute game, it still means he upped his scoring from 32.4 points per 48 minutes in the regular season, to 34 points per 48 minutes in the Playoffs. All this against better defences, with less possessions too – Redirkulous!

Congratulations to Dirk and the Dallas Mavericks. After knocking off the defending Champion LA Lakers, beating the young and upcoming Oklahoma City Thunder and finally putting the ghost of the Miami Heat and 2006 to rest, you are worthy NBA Champions!


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