MIAMI Here's a historical note that bodes well for Dallas: Since 1989, there have been only three Game 7s in NBA Finals history. And since 1970, there have been only eight such games.

In the NBA Finals, Game 7 just doesn't happen very often.

So from that standpoint, history indicates that this series shouldn't go past tonight, because it rarely does. And wouldn't that be great?

But doesn't this series (and this Mavericks team in particular) just seem unorthodox? Nothing is easy for this Dallas squad.

Conventional wisdom in the NBA is that talent beats team. Michael Jordan's teams in the 1990s were a great example of that, pairing arguably the best player of all time with a top-20 or top-25 guy in Scottie Pippen. They went to The Finals six times and won all six.

Conventional wisdom is that this Mavericks team is too old to win a championship. Seven of their top eight rotation guys are in their 30s.

Conventional wisdom in the playoffs dictates that coaches shorten their rotation to eight players max. Rick Carlisle has used 11 in The Finals.

Everyone says that if the Mavericks lose Game 6, they're in a lot of trouble, and history agrees: Since 1970, the home team has a 6-2 record in Game 7 of the NBA Finals.

But this Mavericks team is different, and this year is different.

And if the Mavericks don't close it out tonight, I won't count them out in Game 7.


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