NBA Finals: Mavericks on a mission
DALLAS ó Dirk Nowitzki and Jason Kidd are at the point in their careers where the only thing they care about is winning a championship.
Luckily for them, their teammates feel the same way.
From Shawn Marion to Jason Terry, Tyson Chandler to Brendan Haywood, Peja Stojakovic to DeShawn Stevenson, the Dallas Mavericks are a collection of guys whoíve played at least 10 seasons and made tens of millions of dollars without winning a title. Their willingness to accept whatever playing time and other individual stats they pile up is a major reason Dallas is in the NBA finals.
ěThis is a bunch of veterans who want to play and are unselfish,î Nowitzki said. ěI think thatís what makes this group special, I mean, everybody sacrificing for each other and we just want to win. Itís been fun to play with these guys all season long, so hopefully we can have a great series.î
The finals are an interesting clash in team-building formulas.
The Miami Heat have three main stars ó Dwyane Wade, and the pals he lured last summer, LeBron James and Chris Bosh ó plus the best role players they could afford with the remaining room under the salary cap.
Dallas was built to be deep and versatile. The Mavs knew Nowitzki would be the main option every night, with Kidd guiding the offense, but the No. 2 scorer and other roles would depend on matchups or who had the hot hand.
That kind of uncertainty is unusual for playoff teams. Guys like knowing what to expect. Thatís why it was a struggle making it work at times last year, and why itís so important everyone has completely bought into the team concept this year.
ěItís been an ebb-and-flow type of thing,î coach Rick Carlisle said. ěIn the playoffs, weíve gotten some traction. But again, weíre never quite sure who are going to be our top three or four scorers. And often times weíve going to need six guys scoring seven or more points.î
At seasonís end, Dallas had 57 wins and the No. 3 seed in the Western Conference. Team president Donnie Nelson didnít get a single vote for executive of the year, but he and team owner Mark Cuban are much more interested in the prize the club is still chasing.
ěI like the team,î Nowitzki said. ěI think weíre deep and we can play all sorts of styles. So, weíll see what happens.î
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