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"They probably would have beat us handily" - Dirk Nowitzki recalls his tough battles with LeBron James-led 'Heatles' in 2011 NBA Finals

LeBron James (left) and Dirk Nowitzki. (Photo: Courtesy of Dallas Morning News)
LeBron James (left) and Dirk Nowitzki. (Photo: Courtesy of Dallas Morning News)

Dallas Mavericks legend Dirk Nowitzki, on Wednesday, reminisced his epic battles with LeBron James' Miami Heat in the 2011 NBA Finals.

The Mavericks beat a Miami Heat team comprising James and Dwyane Wade 4-2. Nowitzki outplayed the "The Heatles" en route to his first and only NBA championship. It was a great moment of redemption for Nowitzki, who had lost against the Heat in the 2006 Finals.

In an interview with The Dan LeBatard Show with Stugotz, Nowitzki spoke about the Mavs' championship run against the Heat in 2011. The NBA legend said that the Mavericks were lucky to face a revamped Heat team in their first season together, and not in their second or third year.

"We were super fortunate to run into them in Year 1. They were really hesitant. They hadn't figured out their roles yet...I think if we ran into them in Year 3, they probably would have beat us handily," Nowitzki said.
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It was the first season of the Heat's Big 3 of James, Wade and Chris Bosh. Even though they made it to the NBA Finals, the Mavericks were able to expose the shortcomings in the Heat's offense.

Despite that setback, James would lead the Heat to three more NBA Finals, winning two, beating the Oklahoma City Thunder and San Antonio Spurs. Meanwhile, for Nowitzki, the Mavericks could not replicate their championship run again. Nowitzki retired in 2019, the same time as Wade.

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LeBron James recalls 2011 NBA Finals loss to Dallas Mavericks

LeBron James of the Los Angeles Lakers
LeBron James of the Los Angeles Lakers

The 2011 loss to the Dallas Mavericks is one of six endured by LeBron James in NBA Finals. During the 2020 NBA Finals, James recalled about the Miami Heat getting beaten by the Mavs. He added that did not seem to get over that loss even though it was almost a decade ago.

"That s**t burns me to this day," James revealed.
Lakers’ LeBron James said he was focused on closing out Finals Game 1 vs. Heat because of memories of blown lead from 2011 Finals Game 2 vs. Mavericks: “That s—- burns me to this day.” https://t.co/5SNQalV78c

LeBron James and the Heat seemingly had that series in the bag in Game 2. They were up big in the fourth quarter, but the Mavericks went on an amazing run capped off by Dirk Nowitzki's game-winning layup. The Heat would win Game 3, but Dallas won the next three games to earn their first title.

Meanwhile, the LA Lakers, James' current team, are coming off a loss to the Mavericks on Tuesday. Luka Doncic targeted James in defense in the fourth quarter, closing out a 109-104 victory for his team.

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The Lakers are now 27-34 for the season, barely hanging on to a spot in the play-in tournament. They have also lost three straight games and seven of their last ten.

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Edited by Bhargav
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