Dallas Mavericks’ Dirk Nowitzki was the NBA Finals MVP. He absolutely deserved it. And, when you think about his entire playoffs, there was no way anyone was going to vote for anyone else. Yes, it’s the “Finals” MVP, but Dirk’s entire playoffs was so sublime, he would have had to average single-digits to not get the MVP in a Mavericks title run.
But that’s not to say he did it alone. He had plenty of help. Actually, the help he got was the reason why the Mavs are probably still up partying rather than preparing for a Game 7. And a lot of that help came from one person: Jason Terry.
Terry didn’t have the best Finals overall. His first few games were sub-par. But that didn’t stop him from stepping up (or talking, really). After shooting 13-34 in the first three games of the series (leading to a 2-1 Miami Heat lead), Terry shot 25-43 (58.1%) in the the straight Mavs wins to close out the series. In those three wins, Nowitzki shot 24-64 (37.5%).
So to close out the series, Terry made one more basket than Dirk did in 21 fewer tries. Dirk’s scoring numbers are much higher in those games than Terry’s because Dirk spent a lot more time at the line. Dirk shot 21-22 from the line in the three straight wins while Terry shot 8-12. But that’s just a product of their games.
In Game Six, while Dirk was struggling through a 9-27 shooting night, Terry had one of his best shooting nights of the playoffs (11-16, 68.8%). And really, when you’re looking at a Most Valuable Player, isn’t his performance in closeout games something that weighs heavier in the equation?
“Was he unbelievable tonight or what? Coming out right away in the first half and setting a tone. I think he watched me struggle there early, and he took it upon himself to really attack and look for his shot early and get going early. Man, he kept coming all night long. He was phenomenal. That one timeout he said to me, “Keep pushing. Remember ’06.” He said that to me in the fourth quarter. We kept plugging. It wasn’t pretty for me, but I had to keep plugging and keep fighting.”
The Mavericks were always a team that was going to beat you by making shots, and Terry made them when they mattered most. Had Terry not returned to form, we’d probably be talking about LeBron James’ first ring. Nowitzki was an obvious choice for Finals MVP, but he never would have had a chance to raise that trophy had Terry not done what he did. Terry won’t have a Finals MVP trophy on his mantle, but he certainly deserves one.
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