Jerry Stackhouse claims Miami Heat won 2006 Finals due to series format and Dwyane Wade shooting too many free throws'
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Former Dallas Mavericks wing Jerry Stackhouse believes that Dallas may have won the 2006 NBA Finals against Dwyane Wade and the Miami Heat if the league had changed the NBA Finals format that year.

The Heat won the 2006 NBA Finals in six games, but that was back when the league had the 2-3-2 format for the best-of-seven series. Miami fell behind 2-0 against Dallas, but it swept the three games in Miami before eventually stealing Game 6 on the road to win the series.

Stackhouse mentioned the format and the high number of free throws taken by Wade as reasons why Dallas lost the series.

“He shot probably a few more free throws than he should have,” Stackhouse said. “One in particular that basically changed the series. Still, I’ve never been one to cry over spilled milk. It is what it is, and we had our opportunities.

“We didn’t seize those opportunities. But, they should’ve changed that format before that year, 2-2-1-1-1. I think we’d be sitting up here in some company with some hardware, some rings.”

The NBA has since switched the Finals format to two games at one team’s home arena, followed by two at the opposing team’s arena. The final three games alternate back and forth in a 1-1-1 format.

The Heat certainly benefited in 2006 from having three straight games at home, but Dallas could have taken care of business on its home floor as well in Game 6 to force a Game 7. However, the team came up short in Game 6, losing 95-92.

Wade, who had 36 points in that deciding Game 6, was terrific in the 2006 NBA Finals. He averaged 34.7 points, 7.8 rebounds and 3.8 assists per game while shooting 46.8 percent from the field.

Stackhouse isn’t wrong about Wade getting to the line a lot, as the Heat star attempted 97 free throws in the series, making 75 of them. In Game 5 alone, Wade was 21-for-25 from the free-throw line. The only game he didn’t attempt double-digit free throws came in Game 4 when he went 8-for-9 from the charity stripe.

Wade was terrific in each of Miami’s wins, scoring at least 36 points in Games 3 through 6. The 2006 NBA Finals was the first time Wade would win a title in Miami, and he went on to win two more with the Heat later in his career.

Stackhouse and the Mavericks had a great team, led by Dirk Nowitzki, but the Heat ended up being too much in the series.

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Peter is a graduate of Quinnipiac University where he covered the MAAC and college basketball for three years. He has worked for NBC Sports, the Connecticut Sun and the Meriden Record-Journal covering basketball and other major sports. Follow him on Twitter @peterdewey2.