Tag: Dallas Miami


NBA finals: Miami will execute at the end of Game 6 or the season ends


One stat sums up why we are one more Mavericks win away from seeing David Stern hand the Larry O’Brien trophy over to Mark Cuban:

In the final six minutes of Games 2 through 5, Dallas has outscored Miami 60-26.

These have been incredibly close games, but with everything on the line Dallas and its veteran lineup have executed better. The Mavericks have gotten the shots they wanted and hit the shots they’ve gotten. Dallas — with a ferocious Tyson Chandler in the paint — has reduced Miami to a jump-shooting team.

Thing is, late in games, Chicago reduced Miami to a jump shooting team, too. Remember the Game 5 comeback against the Bulls by the Heat? What shots do you remember? LeBron James and Dwyane Wade draining 3-pointer after 3-pointer.

But that is not their forte, they are two of the best penetrators the game has seen and when both are settling for jumpers they can be beat. Not always, just ask the Bulls, but the odds improve because when they get inside they are nearly unstoppable.

It is possible that Game 6 in Miami on Sunday night will see one team break out for a comfortable win, but based on the last five games it’s hard to expect. And even if a team — especially Miami — does get hot and pull out to a double-digit lead, you know the other team will come roaring back at some point.

Dallas has come back because it is hitting its shots late — you expect that from Dirk Nowitzki, but in Game 5 Jason Terry and J.J. Barea and seemingly anyone else in a Mavericks uniform could not seem to miss. Terry has LeBron in his face and drains the dagger three. They run a beautiful staggered screen set that Miami has yet to figure out how to defend. They mix in a little zone, just enough to keep the Heat off balance. You know, when the pressure is on, Dallas is going to make plays at the end of the game.

Can Miami? That ends up being the only question that matters coming into Game 6. Will LeBron come off the high-pick and bull his way to the basket rather than see the double team and become passive, looking for the pass but not imposing his will on the game? Will Wade take over at the end of the game and make it his own? Will one of them work to get open off the ball rather than stand around in the corner like a jump shooter. Or, if they do settle for jumpers, will the shots fall like they did against Boston and Chicago?

Dallas wants no part of a Game 7. They could well win it, but Game 7s are unpredictable — the Lakers’ Ron Artest was the best player on the court in last year’s Game 7. Anything can happen. Dallas needs to close it out now to make sure they win the title.

Which means they need to close out the final six minutes like they have the last four games. If they continue to play like that, well, it will be fun to see the look on Stern’s face when he has to hand Cuban the most cherished prize in the NBA.

Video: LeBron, Wade mock sick Dirk… it’s not a big deal

Miami Heat v Dallas Mavericks - Game Five

The NBA world is watching and talking about this video today, in the brilliant words of SBN’s Tom Ziller it is blowing up like a meth lab. So we bring it to you.

This news broadcast below — taken BEFORE Game 5 — has video of LeBron James and Dwyane Wade walking out of the arena after practice making some fun of the Dirk Nowitzki pull-the-shirt-up-over-your-mouth press conference.

Really? This is an issue? If you want to hate on LeBron there are plenty of good, legitimate targets for you today, this is not one of them. Frankly, Dirk’s presser while sick was pretty funny. It was a mild 24-hour cold, not something serious. At the end of the day LeBron, Wade and Dirk are buddies who respect each other. There is no malice here, just some guys in team sports poking a little fun at each other. If you’ve ever played a team sport, you know the spirit this is intended in.

Can we actually get back to talking about the game now?

History says Miami has a real chance to win this

Lebron James (6) of the Miami Heat makes

The odds favor the Dallas Mavericks — up 3-2 they need to win just one of the final two games in Miami to win the first title in the franchise’s history. Plus, the way they have been executing at the end of games, they must be considered the favorites.

But history says Miami has a good shot at winning.

Seven times a team has been down 3-2 heading home for the final two games — three times they came back to win. (Stat via Chris Tomasson)

The most recent was the Lakers last season, who trailed the Celtics 3-2 coming back to Staples Center (and still needed a dramatic fourth-quarter comeback to pull it off over a Kendrick Perkins-less Celtics). Although, those Lakers had already shown a championship pedigree and fire we have yet to see out of these Heat.

The other teams to do it were the 1988 Lakers coming back on the Detroit Pistons and the 1994 Houston Rockets coming back on Pat Riley’s New York Knicks.

Still, more times than not the team up 3-2 wins. Those teams have been the 1985 Lakers (Magic Johnson’s baby skyhook in the lane to beat the Celtics in the Garden); the 1993 Bulls (Charles Barkley’s Suns couldn’t win two at home over Jordan’s Bulls); the 1998 Bulls (Jordan’s final year, he wasn’t about to lose); and the 2006 Miami Heat (who closed out Dallas in these same circumstances).

The shoe is on the other foot now. We’ll see if Dallas can return the favor to Miami and close out on the road.

LeBron James was good, but we expect more of him

Miami Heat v Dallas Mavericks - Game Five

The Miami Heat did not lose Thursday night because of LeBron James.

But they didn’t win because of him either.

That is ultimately the challenge that lies before him — he cannot be merely good, not if he is to meet the expectations put upon him,  ones he encouraged and welcomed — he needs to be legendary. And he has been nothing of the sort.

A lot of factors went into Dallas taking a 3-2 lead in the NBA finals, a lot of reasons the Heat lost — Miami’s slower rotations defensively early that let Dallas get into a shooting rhythm, Dallas then hitting 13-of-19 from three, and Dallas executed better in the fourth quarter. Again.

Those are not on LeBron, those are on the Miami Heat.

LeBron had a good game, he had an unassuming triple double if that is possible (17 points, 10 rebounds, 10 assists). He tried to be more aggressive but Dallas continued to keep a defensive focus on him and so he made the basketball play every high school coach calls for and passed to the open man.

But we expect more from LeBron.

He is the best player walking the planet earth right now. The most gifted. With that we expect him not to be good in big games, we expect him to absolutely dominate. To impose his will and lead his team to victory. When Dwyane Wade got injured we expected LeBron to take over, to dominate the game in a way we have come to expect superstars to do.

He did not.

LeBron is being measured against our expectations of him, against the memories left us by other greats. That is a nearly impossible standard to live up to, but that is the price of his incredible gifts.

Right now, all great players are measured against Michael Jordan. A guy who, when faced with a team floundering in the finals, took over to put on heroic performances. In the last two seasons Kobe Bryant, though not as great or efficient a player as Jordan, tried to fulfill that archetype by getting angry, playing through pain and willing his team to rings.

In Game 5, LeBron fell well short of that standard. He was not angry dominant. And fair or not, that is the standard he will be measured against.

That can change. His legacy is far from defined. There are two more chances this season (if the Heat are to win) where he could prove greatness and lead his team to a comeback victory and a ring. Beyond that, right now we are at the midpoint of LeBron’s NBA career and to say that this series will define how we think of him in a decade is ridiculous.

But today, right now, LeBron James has not lived up to the expectations before him.

What makes a great dramatic hero — from great literature to a comic book hero — is a person who must grow, be better than even they thought they could be to overcome a resilient and seemingly unstoppable opponent. They must pass a challenge even greater than they expected. That is where LeBron James finds himself heading into Game 6. The chance to become greater than he had expected and to fulfill the destiny that has seemingly been before him since he was a high school sophomore. It’s not really fair to put all that on him, but he has never shrunk from welcoming that challenge. By going to Miami, he invited it.

We’ll see Sunday if right now he is capable of living up to that.

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Video: Jason Terry sticks in the dagger

Miami Heat v Dallas Mavericks - Game Five

On a night when there were hot shooters all over the court, Jason Terry was just ridiculous.

He finished 8-of-12 shooting for 21 points. He was 5-of-9 from beyond 16 feet and he had key threes.

But this is the one everyone will remember — the dagger three taken from roughly Fort Worth with a hand in his face, that was one of the many rainbows that dropped for Dallas in Game 5. It’s this shot that sealed the Mavs being one win away from an NBA title.