By Ron Griffitts
In June 2006, two teams new to the finals, the Miami Heat (52-30) coached by Pat Riley who had won four NBA titles as coach of the Lakers, with general manager Randy Pfund met the Dallas Mavericks (60-22) coached by former player Avery Johnson and had another former player, Donn Nelson as their general manager.
The Heat had dispatched the Chicago Bulls (4-2), New Jersey Nets (4-1) and the defending Eastern Conference champion Detroit Pistons (4-2) to get to the finals and were led by Dwyane Wade (27.2 ppg, 6.7 apg, 5.7 rpg), Jason Williams (12.3 ppg), Shaquille O’Neal, obtained from the Lakers after the 2004 season, (20.0 ppg, 9.2 rpg) and Antoine Walker (12.2 ppg).
The Mavericks got past the Memphis Grizzlies (4-0), San Antonio Spurs (4-3) and the Phoenix Suns (4-2) to get to the finals and were led by Dirk Nowitski (26.6 ppg, 9.0 rpg), Jason Terry (17.1 ppg), Josh Howard (15.6 ppg, 6.3 rpg), Marquis Daniels (10.2 ppg) and, Jerry Stackhouse (13.0 ppg).
Game one was at American Airlines Center in the first finals’ playoff game ever played in Dallas, Texas. Miami got out to a 31-23 first quarter lead but Dallas, led by Jason Terry’s 32 points and Josh Howard’s 12 rebounds, went on to a 90-80 victory. Miami was led by Dwyane Wade’s 28 points.
In game two Dallas, paced by Dirk Nowitzki’s 26 points/16 rebounds and 19 points off the bench from Jerry Stackhouse, went on to take a 2-0 lead in the series with a 99-85 win. Antoine Walker had 20 and Dwayne Wade had 23 points for Miami as the teams switch to the American Airlines Arena in Miami.
Needing a win, Miami outscored the Mavericks 30-19 in the fourth quarter led by Dwyane Wade’s 15 fourth quarter points on their way to a narrow 98-96 win.
This was a big win for the Heat as they were one quarter away from going down 0-3 in the series. Wade finished with 42 points and 13 rebounds while Shaquille O’Neal had 16 points and 11 rebounds as the Heat outrebounded Dallas 49-34. Dirk Nowitski had 30 and Josh Howard had 21 points for Dallas.
Continuing their momentum from game three the Heat outscored the Mavericks in every quarter and sailed to a 98-74 win led by Dwyane Wade’s 36 points and 17 points/ 10 rebounds from Shaquille O’ Neal to even the series at two games each.
Still in Miami game five was a much closer and a key game in the series as the two teams battled to a 93-93 tie after regulation. The overtime was also even but with the Heat trailing 100-99 and with one second left on the clock, Dwyane Wade went to the free throw line and made two free throws to give Miami a 101-100 win and to go up 3-2 in the series.
Wade continued his outstanding play with 43 points including 21 of 25 from the charity stripe. Shaq added 18 points/10 rebounds. Jason Terry had 35 points, Josh Howard had 25 points and Dirk Nowitzki had 20 points for the Mavericks.
The teams traveled back to Dallas for game six but the story was the same as it was too much Dwayne Wade as he scored 36 points to lead the Heat to a 95-92 win. When they needed a basket, he provided it as he was 10 of 18 from the field and 16 0f 21 from the free throw line and pulled down 10 rebounds.
Not since Michael Jordan had anyone dominated offensively as Wade did in 2006. He got the finals’ MVP and these two teams met again in the 2011 finals.
Statistics for this article were from basketball-reference.com and YouTube.com
Ron Griffitts a contributing columnist for The Daily Advocate.