Miami 105 Dallas 94: Heat unleash the Nightmare on Christmas for Mavs

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A three-part preface, to begin, before we cover the Heat’s shelling/drilling/slaughter of the Mavericks.

  1. It’s the first game of the season, and the first game of the season is never indicative of how the season will go for either team, even if it seems like it in retrospect. Th Celtics beat the Heat in the first game of last season, and looked impressive doing so. How did that work out?
  2. The Mavericks are working with several new players including Lamar Odom (ejected), Vince Carter, and Delonte West, on a short training camp and preseason.
  3. The Heat had every reason for motivation, the Mavericks were busy congratulating themselves on their title from last season. So it was two different teams mentally.

So we’ve got that all the way.

Good gravy, the Heat looked awesome.

Even in a game in which they only managed 8 points in the fourth quarter, it cannot be overstated how well the Heat played Sunday in their blowout win over the Mavericks. Most shocking was the offense. Last season the Heat had a mishmash, sloppy, clunky, uninspiring offense that seemed like a group of uninvolved loiterers occasionally hoisting jumpers with some lobs thrown in. But on Sunday, the Heat unleashed a torrent of firepower, as if all that talk about needing more time to gel had been accurate.

Dwyane Wade was slashing and hitting jumpers.LeBron James showed off a fave-up mid-range game that smacked heavily of a Dirk Nowitzki assimilation. And the Heat ran, ran, ran. They ran the Mavericks out of the building. James even showed off an honest-to-God post game. The nightmare scenario of the Heat living up to their fullest potential came true,  at least for three quarters.

The Mavericks didn’t just look discombobulated, they looked disinterested. They were completely overwhelmed on both sides of the ball. It was about as bad a performance as the Heat’s was good. They allowed the Heat to collect 40 percent of their offensive rebounds. It was a disaster.

For the Heat, this game is the standard for them, the late give-up notwithstanding. This is the energy, focus, and execution they need to play with if they want to play at their potential. For the Mavericks, best to forget this game ever happened and move on.

Notes:

  • This was ridiculous.
  • Norris Cole actually looked really good for the Heat. He made good moves in transition, forced the issue, and picked up a few hockey assists. His development would be huge for the Heat who need a fast guard with legs to complement Mario Chalmers.
  • The Heat’s defense was just as good. They were swarming, rotating, and very much in position to defend the Mavericks’ perimeter attack.
  • There was a Texas-sized hole in the shape of Tyson Chandler down low for the Mavericks.
  • Lamar Odom was suspended after two technicals, which only begins to show how out-of-control he was Sunday.
  • Brian Cardinal airballed a three and then Vince Carter missed consecutive free throws to end any hope of the Mavericks’ comeback.

Steve Kerr “uncertain” if he will coach in NBA Finals

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The Warriors have gone 12-0 through the playoffs, the first team to sweep the first three rounds of the playoffs since the NBA went to a best-of-7 in all three rounds (a couple Lakers teams did it when the first round was best-of-5).

That doesn’t mean they haven’t missed Steve Kerr as coach, but they haven’t needed him. Yet. Mike Brown has done the job quite well.

Will Kerr be back for the NBA Finals? He told Marc Spears of ESPN he doesn’t know.

Kerr had back surgeries two summers ago, and that caused him to miss the start of the 2015-16 season (Luke Walton ran the show). Kerr coached through pain caused by a slow leak of spinal fluid until nausea and pain became too much at the start of this postseason. Kerr has had a new procedure — one that is apparently promising, one that we hope works to end the leak — but he’s understandably cautious about jumping back in.

That said, the next round, against the Cavaliers (barring the most improbable comeback in NBA history), is when the Warriors will need Kerr’s creative mind and solutions to the challenges Cleveland presents.

He’s also got more than a week to decide since the Finals don’t start until June 1.

Manu Ginobili receives standing ovation upon exiting what may be his final game

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Manu Ginobili is a four-time NBA champion, a two-time All-NBA player,  two-time All-Star, and a Sixth Man of the Year.

He’s also the most popular Spur of his generation — walk around San Antonio, even at the peak of the Spurs runs, and you saw more Ginobili jerseys than Duncan or Parker or Robinson or anyone else. Ginobili is beloved.

When he was taken out near the end of Game 4, maybe his final game as a Spur, the fans erupted into a standing ovation (joined by Stephen Curry, who stepped away from the free throw line to let the moment happen).

Ginobili hinted during the season this would be his last, but has said repeatedly during the playoffs he didn’t know what he would do during the season. He looked like he had game left in the tank during the Western Conference Finals (he had 15 points in Game 4 and was one of the Spurs best players in the series). The question is, at age 40 next season, will he want to go through all the work it takes to get physically ready for the next season.

Warriors take control early, hold off Spurs to sweep series, advance to NBA Finals

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This series was decided early in the second half of Game 1, when Kawhi Leonard’s ankle rolled. He never got back on the court in the next three games, the Spurs were +21 when he was on in that first game and -85 the rest of the way. Without his defense on one end and shot creation on the other the Spurs could not match up.

The Spurs didn’t play like it was over Monday night — while the Warriors would hit threes and go on runs, the Spurs would answer back never let them completely pull away. They got buckets from Kyle Anderson (20 points off the bench) and 15 from Manu Ginobili in what may have been his final NBA game (he got the start, and the crowd erupted when he was taken out near the end).

It wasn’t enough. The Golden State Warriors were the better team — maybe even if Leonard had played — and they were in control of this game the entire way, getting 36 points from Stephen Curry and 29 from Kevin Durant.

The Warriors went on to win 125-110 and sweep the Spurs 4-0. Golden State swept through the West undefeated at 12-0, and they will take on the winner of the East (we all know it will be Cleveland). The Finals don’t begin until June 1.

This is the Warriors third straight trip to the Finals.

“Our chemistry is getting better and better,” Durant said after the game. “We’re going to need it even more in the next series, whoever we play, we’re just looking forward to it. I’m glad we got this done.”

There was a lot of respect between the teams after the series, particularly for Ginobili.

“Somebody I grew up watching, amazing competitor, even more fun playing against him,” Durant said after the game. “I got nothing but love and respect for him, plus he wear my shoes every year so that’s a plus. He was phenomenal this series.”

There also was a feeling among fans that we were robbed of a good series by the injury to Leonard (and the cheap play by Zaza Pachulia that caused it). Without Leonard (and Tony Parker) the Spurs struggled to create shots and generate consistent offense against a stout Warriors defense.

It was evident at the start of Game 4. San Antonio opened game 3-of-16 shooting, but the bigger issue is they went 1-of-8 in the paint against a Warriors team that started small (Patrick McCaw instead of JaVale McGee). Meanwhile, the Spurs were 7-of-7 in the paint to start the game. That is why the Warriors raced out to a quick 12 point lead midway through the first quarter.

The game hung around the 10-point era until an 11-0 Warriors run midway through the second quarter. The Spurs kept fighting, they had 13 more shots than the Warriors in the first half — thanks to 9 Golden State turnovers and 8 San Antonio offensive boards — but the Spurs shot 34.5 percent in the first half, and it wasn’t enough because the Warriors shot 60 percent. The Warriors shot 74 percent (14-of-19) in the second quarter. Because of that it was Warriors 65, Spurs 51 at the half, and Curry and Durant each had 18 for Golden State; Kyle Anderson has 10 points to lead the Spurs.

The second half saw the lead bounce between 10 and 20 most of the time, the Spurs would make a little run and the Warriors would answer with some crisp ball movement and a three. Curry was 5-of-13 from three on the night to lead the way.

Draymond Green added 16 points, 8 rebounds and 8 assists for the Warriors.

Now the Warriors get more than a week off to rest and prepare for the Finals.

Kevin Durant blocks Dejounte Murray twice on one shot (VIDEO)

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Kevin Durant was doing it all in the first half — he had 18 points to lead the Warriors (tied with Stephen Curry) and was making plays all over the court.

That includes racing back on this play and blocking Dejounte Murray‘s layup. Twice. On one shot.

The Warriors have led by 20 and been in control through the start of the third quarter. KD was at the heart of that.