"You can just sense it in us that we weren't going to give up, we were going to be resilient."
--Dallas Mavericks guard Jason Terry.
The Miami Heat were fifteen points up in the fourth quarter of Game 2 when the Dallas Mavericks roared back to win the game, 95-93. The Heat might have relaxed just a little. But the Mavericks did not give up. The Mavericks had to rely on many of the championship behaviors and personality characteristics of world-class peak performers. Let's look at the ingredients of an historic comeback.
Resilience and Tenacity
"Definitely a huge comeback for us and we never gave up, and that was big," Dirk Nowitzki, All-Star forward for the Mavericks said. Nowitzki led the Mavericks with 24 points.
"Dirk is the kind of guy that is going to be persistent and we're going to keep going to him. No matter what they try to do, we're going to keep going to him," Mavs center Tyson Chander said. "We know eventually they're going to wear down because they're spending a lot of energy trying to keep him out of the game."
"We're a veteran team and we don't get too high with the highs and too low with the lows," Nowitzki said. Nowitzki had to deal with an injury to a finger in his left hand. Despite the injury Nowitzki won the game with a shot with 3.6 seconds on the clock. The Heat led 88-73 with 7:15 remaining, but Dallas held the Heat to just one field goal from there on.
Ability to Deal with Ambiguity
"In this league you have to play 'til the end, especially in the Finals," said Nowtizki, who finished with 24 points and 11 rebounds. "You never know what can happen in this league. And we kept fighting."
"Just a different series, but we always believe we can come back regardless of the score," Shawn Marion said. "The game is over when the final buzzer rings."
"No man, Dirk's a warrior," Dallas guard DeShawn Stevenson said. "I've been on this team for a year-and-a-half and I never seen nothing like it. He's a true warrior. To hit a game-winner on that torn finger, to play the way he played with that torn finger, with people slapping on him, says a lot about him and what he does."
Failure is not an Option
"Guys just stayed together. Even with that last 3-pointer that Chalmers [Miami guard] made, everybody just looked forward and said, 'Let's find a way to win the game.' "
--Jason Kidd, Mavs point guard.
Ability to Deal with Adversity
"This team has been through some difficult situations," Dallas coach Rick Carlisle said. "We've been down big a couple of times in the playoffs. We have shown that we have the ability to come back, and the guys believe that if we get stops, we'll always give ourselves a chance."
The Mavericks are making a habit out of overcoming large deficits in these 2011 NBA Playoffs. Tonight's comeback marked the fourth time the Mavericks have overcome a double-digit deficit during this poststeason run, one during each round.
"Look, everybody is important on our team," Carlisle said prior to Game 2. "Heap it all on one guy, this guy or that guy, we've had to do things collectively all season long, defensively, offensively.
"We never know exactly who is going to score the points, but every element that we have, whether it's (guard J.J. Barea's) penetration, (center Brendan) Haywood's presence around the basket, Tyson's energy, you go right down the list, we need everybody to do what they do."
It looked like the Heat had the game won and had earned control of the series. However, because of the Mavericks mental toughness and will to win, the series is tied 1-1 and the team is going home to Dallas for the next three games; and the Heat have lost home court advantage. It's anyone's series, but the Mavericks have taken a huge psychological step towards a championship.
Excerpts from NBA.com & ESPN.com (June 3, 2011).