2011 NBA Finals: Dirk Nowitzki And Dwyane Wade Injured, JJ Barea And Mario Chalmers Rising To Occasion

DALLAS, TX - JUNE 09: (L-R) Dirk Nowitzki #41, Jose Juan Barea #11 and DeShawn Stevenson #92 of the Dallas Mavericks celebrate a play in the second half against the Miami Heat in Game Five of the 2011 NBA Finals at American Airlines Center on June 9, 2011 in Dallas, Texas. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

The Dallas Mavericks take a 3-2 lead over the Miami Heat with their game 5 victory by a score of 112-103 Thursday night in Dallas.

Who needs the Los Angeles Lakers and Boston Celtics when you have the Miami Heat and Dallas Mavericks? This series is already shaping up as an all-time great and we're not finished yet. The Mavericks come from behind again in the 4th quarter on the strength of a 17-4 run the last 4:23 of the game to defeat the Heat in the pivotal game 5 in Dallas.

This series has everything you want in a storyline. Each team has their superstars playing through injuries, both teams have guys stepping up and playing above their previous capabilities, and each team has veteran players that are chasing that elusive NBA championship to complete their careers.

Dirk Nowitzki tore a tendon in his left-middle finger in a game early in the series and he is showing no ill effects from that injury. He's also already played through a 101-degree fever in game four that the Mavericks won on the wave of a 4th quarter comeback. He led the Mavericks in scoring Thursday night with 29 points on 9-18 shooting, hitting 10-10 from the free throw line.

Dwyane Wade left the game late in the 1st quarter with what was found to be a hip contusion. He returned and still led the Heat in scoring with 23 points on 6-12 shooting, despite being in obvious pain. Wade got more help out of LeBron James in game five in that he was more active around the court, he did post a triple-double with 17 points, 10 rebounds, and 10 assists. It still wasn't enough as the Heat are in do-or-die mode right now, and they're hoping a familiar place called home can be the answer to what they're looking for.

J.J. Barea might be the unsung hero of this series. Dirk Nowitzki is still the leader of this team and Jason Terry hit a ridiculous clutch 3-pointer that sealed the game for the Mavericks late in the game. But it was always Barea that seemed to get the bucket when Dallas needed it the most. He finished the game with 17 points and 5 assists in just 26 minutes of playing time, that included 4-5 from 3-point range. The Mavericks as a team shot a ridiculous 68% from 3-point range on 13-19 shooting.

Barea's counterpart on this evening was Mario Chalmers. He is playing like a guy who has been there before and anyone who remembers the National Championship game when he was playing with the University of Kansas knows that he isn't afraid to take big shots, and make them. Chalmers finished the game with 15 points on 4-6 shooting from 3-point range, and 3-3 from the free throw line, all of this in just 23 minutes of playing time. He also seemed to always make the big 3-point shot when the Heat needed it the most.

Wade and Nowitzki are getting a lot of the notoriety in this series, and for good reason, but Barea and Chalmers deserve a lot of credit for their contributions as well.

The series now travels to Miami for games six, and seven (if necessary). Miami will need to close out two games at home to keep Dallas from celebrating on their home court. Chris Bosh thinks it can happen. via espn.com

"We fought hard all season for home-court advantage. We're down 3-2, we protect home court, we win the series, so we just have to keep that in mind."

This series has just been too much fun to not see it go to a game seven. It's not a stretch to say after what's transpired over the course of this series so far that it's going to come down to the 4th quarter, and who is ready to step up make make that memorable play that will be talked about for years? This is setting up to be that kind of a finish and someone is going to be forever remembered for it.

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