DALLAS - The Miami Heat are in Dallas for their one and only time this season. And because these visits are so rare, it's impossible not to think about the 2011 NBA Finals when they are here. But what's wrong with that?
The underdog and under-talented Mavericks beat the Heat 4-2 to win their first NBA championship. Tonight's game will be only the third meeting between these teams since then (Miami won both games last year), which allows the memory from that series to linger.
Heat forward Chris Bosh grew up in Dallas and was asked whether there are bad memories associated with this city because of the 2011 Finals.
"Not so much," Bosh said, before correcting himself. "I mean sometimes. This just makes us want to beat them to a pulp, pretty much."
Even LeBron James admitted to some angry feelings that carried over during the six months between the '11 Finals, and the 2011-12 season opener, when Miami and Dallas met on Christmas day. The Heat took a 32-point lead after three quarters, before beating the Mavericks 105-94 in Dallas.
"We had a lot of built-up anger because of the Finals," James said.
"No matter how many times you come back here, you're always -- memories -- good or bad," said Dwayne Wade, who was with the Heat when they lost to Dallas in 2011 and when the Heat beat the Mavs for the championship in 2006. "You have different memories, so yeah, when you get on the basketball court, you're going to feel a little different."
This Mavericks team doesn't resemble the 2011 champions at all. With Dirk Nowitzki still out, Shawn Marion is the only regular rotation guy left. But as head coach Rick Carlisle thinks about tonight's game, he has zero concern for what happened a year and a half ago.
"I'm concerned with how we're going to keep our turnovers down, not with analyzing some inane question like that," Carlisle said. "I think what's important for us is we have to be completely tied together as a team."
And isn't that how it should be? With the Heat in town, Mavs fans can bask in the glow from 2011, but Carlisle and this new bunch of Mavericks needs to be thinking only about winning this game.