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This Day in Mavs History: 2011 NBA Finals Game 4, AKA Dirk’s “Flu” Game

Photo Credit: “2011 NBA Champions Dallas Mavericks” by Michael Tipton, used under CC BY-SA 2.0

This Day in Mavs History: 2011 NBA Finals Game 4, AKA Dirk’s “Flu” Game

The pivotal Game 4 of the 2011 NBA Finals between the Dallas Mavericks and the Miami Heat was one Mavs fans won’t ever forget.

Prior to the game, Miami had the series lead, 2-1, with no looks of turning back. However, a guy by the name of Dirk Nowitzki and more importantly, his squad, had ulterior motives. Also, if you were wondering, this was the game Dirk fought off the flu just as Michael Jordan did in Game 5 of the 1997 NBA Finals. By no means am I comparing performances of the two (obviously Jordan’s was asinine), just putting into perspective what “GOAT’s” do.

JJ Barea got his third start of the year and first of the entire playoffs for this game; talk about a huge adjustment for Rick Carlisle. As we all know, Barea offers that quick spark with high energy, so that could’ve been exactly what the Mavs needed to get the momentum in their favor being down in the series.

To start the game Dirk went 3-3 with the first six points, while the Heat’s power forward, Chris Bosh, also started off hot with six points in this first quarter and 16 at the half. All of this to say, doesn’t mean a thing. The way that the entire Mavs team showed up was huge for Dirk. They showed up when he needed them most.

“I know how much this guy’s been through,” stated Tyson Chandler after the game about Dirk. “We couldn’t allow Dirk being sick to cost him his ring.”

It all started with Shawn Marion’s defense on LeBron James, who in fact, was held to eight points and four turnovers for the game. The last time we’ve all seen Lebron score single-digit points, was, well, probably this game. Today, a bad game for Lebron would be a stat line of 24 points, seven rebounds and seven assists. Another big factor for the Mavs in this game was Tyson Chandler’s rebounding, but beyond that, his nine offensive rebounds to create more opportunities. He ended with 16 total rebounds.

This entire game we witnessed incredible basketball back-and-forth: a classic nail-biter if you will. The fourth quarter is here. Miami opens it up with a huge run and takes a nine-point lead for the Heat.

It doesn’t look good here. Carlisle takes a crucial timeout.

After the timeout, it was all Jason Terry holding down the fort while Dirk is panting and nearly about to pass out while dealing with his 102-degree fever. Terry had eight of the team’s 21 4th quarter points. The man had to perform like this to prove his preseason tattoo of the Larry O’Brien trophy worthy. 

The end of the game is here and the Mavs have a one-point lead. Jason Kidd brings the ball up the floor with a 5-second difference between the shot-clock and game-clock. Gives it to the German Moses (Dirk) with 24 seconds left on the game-clock, and holds it until the 16-second mark with Udonis Haslem guarding him. I personally remember Jeff Van Gundy’s call for this play.

“He’s going too early,” Van Gundy yelled right before Dirk’s crafty layup falls in over two defenders. “…Sometimes even when you’re wrong, you’re right.”

That quote will forever go down in my head as one of the greatest of all-time. Sure, Dirk went a little early, but the Mavs still took the three-point lead and we all know how it ended from there. Mavs win by those same three points, 86-83.

What a day this was for Mavs fans and what a day this was for the Mavs team all around.

Staff writer covering the Texas Rangers and Dallas Mavericks | Jesus Christ follower, husband to Brooke, dad to Sutton, UNT journalism alumni, adventure craver, coffee connoisseur, music devotee, sports fanatic.

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