We’re continuing our look back at some classic Miami Heat games. For our last rewind — when the Heat bottled up Jeremy Lin — click here.
Our 12th entry takes us back to the NBA Finals. Miami had swept all three home games to go up 3-2 in the 2006 NBA Finals, but still needed to win on the road to clinch a championship. When asked about the possibility of having to play a Game 7, Pat Riley responded that he brought one shirt, one suit and one tie. He also instructed his player to pack, ready to head back to Miami.
The game was off to an inauspicious start. With 2:54 left in the first quarter, Devin Harris found Dirk Nowitzki, who had a clear lane to the basket for a dunk. The Mavericks were up 26-12. Dwyane Wade, who had carried Miami, hadn’t even scored a point.
Of course, Wade soon attacked the basket. He scored seven points in the final two minutes of the quarter, and Miami cut the lead to 30-23 at the end of one.
The third-year guard from Marquette continued to cook from mid-range. At the 9:06 mark of the second, he posted up Jason Terry before squaring up for a jumper. Miami was within 32-31; the Heat had taken the Mavericks’ opening punch and survived.
Wade took his first rest of the game, though, and Dallas seized control of the game. Shaquille O’Neal, who played well in earlier playoff series against the Chicago Bulls and Detroit Pistons, couldn’t get going offensively. In Wade’s two-minute-38-second rest, Shaq missed a dunk and two hook shots. The Mavericks went on an 8-0 run to go up 40-31.
After Wade returned to the game, the Heat went on a run. With 25.9 seconds left in the game, Jason Williams led a 3-on-1 fast-break with Wade and Alonzo Mourning. Williams threw a behind-the-back pass to Mourning, who dunked on DaSagana Diop. Miami was up 49-46.
The Heat carried that momentum into the third quarter. With 8:19 left, Wade stole the ball from Jerry Stackhouse and threw the ball ahead to Antoine Walker. Walker made a layup despite getting fouled and shimmied on the floor.
Udonis Haslem made his patented mid-range jumpers. Alonzo Mourning blocked shots. At the 1:51 mark of the third, Wade found Zo for a layup. The Heat went up 68-59. The Mavericks cut the deficit to just three heading into the final quarter, though.
Early in the fourth, Gary Payton passed the ball to Wade before turning to argue with a referee about a foul call. But Wade threw the ball back to Payton, who still had his back turned. Stackhouse picked up the ball and ignited a fast-break. Mourning blocked a Terry layup attempt before crashing out-of-bounds and screaming. Mourning saved Miami from Payton’s inexplicable error.
With 3:43 left in the fourth, Wade found James Posey open in the corner for a 3. He made it, and Miami went up 87-81. But Dallas wouldn’t go down without a fight. On Miami’s very next possession, Stackhouse blocked a Haslem dunk attempt. And with 1:37 left, Stackhouse made a 3. The Mavericks were down just 89-88.
But Haslem made a jumper on Miami’s next possession, putting the Heat up 91-88. And just a little later, Dallas called a timeout with 26 seconds left, down 93-90. But Nowitzki threw the ball to Erick Dampier, who bobbled the ball. Wade came up with the steal, and the Mavericks had to foul with just 17 seconds left.
Wade made those free throws, but he missed two more after Josh Howard scored. And on Wade’s second attempt, both Posey and Haslem grabbed the offensive board. They were called for traveling. Dallas would have one last chance.
Terry missed an open 3, and Wade grabbed the rebound. It was over. The Heat had won their first championship.