Tag: Heat Mavericks Game 3

Heat's James congratulates Wade after scoring against the Mavericks during fourth quarter in Game 2 of the NBA Finals in Miami

LeBron, Wade able to share “alpha dog” role just fine


Because some people just need to criticize LeBron James no matter what he does, there were ridiculous columns out about LeBron James shrinking from the spotlight after the Heat won Game 3. Questions LeBron just shot down in his press conference.

But, this situation in Miami is different than what we saw with the Lakers the past few years, when that was Kobe’s team unquestionably. It is different than the current archetype of what a championship team should look like, based on Jordan’s Bulls teams. When Jordan was the alpha dog. When the game was on the line for those teams, you knew the play was an isolation for their star and he would make things happen.

The Heat are not LeBron’s team. They are not Dwyane Wade’s team. They share the team, the spotlight, the alpha dog role. At the end of Game 3, they got together to run a pick-and-roll rather than an isolation for one of them. At other times they each have taken over at the end of games. They each have called out teammates.

They can share top billing. That was the entire point of this “big three,” so that one guy did not have to carry the load every time. That has worked out well for them, even if some fans struggle to get their arms around it.

At one point in the fourth quarter Game 3, Wade yelled at LeBron, and when Wade was asked about it this was his response (reported by our man Ira Winderman at the Sun Sentinel):

“Them guys understand. They know me. I understand them. If things are said to each other, it’s all in the better for the team. It’s all about winning. I want it. LeBron knew that. The things I was saying to him, I was saying to Chris, wasn’t nothing they wouldn’t say to me. It was something they would say to me in the Chicago series and vice versa. We have enough respect for each other… I don’t know if I got in his face, but I was just trying to do what leaders do and do what captains do. Step up and say what you feel at that point in order.”

Wade is telling how it looks in the Heat locker room — there is not one unquestioned leader. Nor does their have to be for this to work. There is a belief from that Jordan/Kobe mindset that the best players not only have to dominate their opponents, they have to dominate their teammates as well. Jordan lashed out in practice, when Kobe came into the league he wanted to play and beat all his teammates in one-on-one games.

A mythology grew up around that. Fans bought in. As if that was the only way to win. But it is not.

This is not some new idea — Tom Ziller was writing about it a couple weeks ago, our own Rob Mahoney had a post on this same topic back in August. Mahoney noted out that the whole science behind the alpha dog in a pack of wolves was faulty in the first place.

The Heat are close to winning a title and doing it their way. LeBron, for all the perception that he has to be the center of the universe, has set that aside. Wade welcomed in a co-leader. They both took less money to make it all happen. They both have taken over at the end of games, and in Game 3 they both passed to the open man when the game was on the line.

They are sharing the alpha dog role, and because of their relationship that works well for them. You don’t have to like it, but you had better get used to it.

Mario Chalmers dramatic shot shouldn’t have counted. Maybe.

Miami Heat v Dallas Mavericks - Game Three

UPDATE 11:23 am: Or, maybe we have it wrong and the shot should have counted.

According to Refcalls.com, it’s an unclear area of the rulebook, however the way they read it because Chalmers leapt in the air to get the pass then landed in the front court he was neither in the front or back court when he caught the ball then landed in the front court so he is fine.

That is different than say a play on the sidelines where one could not jump from out of bounds, catch the ball in the air and land in bounds. It’s seems a discrepancy at best. We will concede it is up for debate.

Also, Refcalls breaks out some of the missed travels in this series. There have been a lot. Even by NBA standards.

10:33 am: It ended up being huge. At the end of the first quarter Mario Chalmers got a pass back and drained a half-court shot at the buzzer, a three pointer that put the Heat up 29-22.

Those three points mattered a lot in a game decided by two, 88-86.

But that shot never should have counted.

Udonis Haslem had the ball and dribbled it into the front court and passed it back to Chalmers, who was running into the front court. But Chalmers never fully got into the front court — his foot straddled the halfcourt line when he caught the pass. In the NBA the half court line is considered part of the back court, you have to be fully over the line to be considered in the front court. (Kelly Dwyer at Ball Don’t Lie pointed it out first.)

The officials missed it, the shot should have been waived off. (ABC play-by-play man Mike Breen also got it wrong on the national broadcast.)

That play alone did not cost the Mavericks the game — Dirk Nowitzki and Jason Terry missed shots down the stretch, Nowitzki got hung up on a Udonis Haslem screen while Chris Bosh it the game winner, the Mavs didn’t close out on Chalmers on his other threes, and frankly in a close game there are 100 different places it could have turned. Dallas dug out of that hole and had the chance to win, Miami was the team that executed better at the end of this game. That is the real difference.

But Chalmers shot should not have counted.

Video: Chris Bosh drains game winner

Miami Heat v Dallas Mavericks - Game Three

Miami has gotten in trouble this series when they have gone to LeBron James or Dwyane Wade in isolation. When it became hero ball as they tried to knock down the long jumper or drove headlong into the teeth of the defense. And in the biggest moment of the series you wondered if they may revert to that habit.

No, they ran maybe their best play, and it worked just as designed. Watch it below (in slow motion thanks to the people at NBA.com). Jason Kidd and Shawn Marion both go with Wade off the pick so he swings it to the roll man, LeBron, who is at the free throw line. But Tyson Chandler makes the right read (you don’t want LeBron wide open for a game winner) so he pressures him. LeBron makes a clever pass to Chris Bosh, Dirk Nowitzki is supposed to rotate out to him but Udonis Haslem slows Dirk with a little pin down screen and Bosh gets the open look. Ballgame.

It had been the first time all game the Heat had run the Wade/LeBron pick and roll. Wade came

Dirk needs help if Dallas is going to get a ring

Dirk Nowitzki of the Dallas Mavericks go

Going into this series Dallas’ bench was going to be a huge factor.

Well, they have been, just not in the way anybody was picturing.

While single game +/- stats (how a team scores with a player on the court) can be misleading, we have an unmistakable trend broken out by Jeff Fogel at HoopData.

Here’s the breakdown in plus-minuses so far from the Dallas perspective:
Game One: with Dirk -2, without Dirk -6
Game Two: with Dirk +13, without Dirk -11
Game Three: with Dirk +12, without Dirk -14

Because Nowitzki finishes every game unless he’s fouled out, we’ve developed a pattern where the Mavericks fall behind during his rest time…then spend the fourth quarter trying to climb back to equality. They successfully rallied to equality in Games Two and Three, with coin flip endings splitting out one apiece to each team.

If you’re scoring at home, that’s a +23 when he is on the court and a -31 when he sits.

That is -31 in 19:32. Dirk has been off the court less than 20 minutes total in three games.

Dallas’ bench ran into a couple of challenges this series. One is that Miami doesn’t really have a bench, so they don’t play them — in Game 3 one of the Heat “big three” was on the court for every minute of the game and at least two of them for 44 minutes of it. This isn’t a bench-on-bench situation, this is your bench playing against some of the game’s elite players.

Miami’s defense is also different. Dallas is a jump shooting team, they scored a lower percentage of their points in the paint than any team in the NBA. But the Heat are athletic at every position and on the perimeter they close out quickly on shooters. They rush you. They get in your head a little. And the result is Jason Terry shooting 38 percent for three games, J.J. Barea 21.8, Peja Stojakovic just 1-for-5.

Dallas has been close, the last two games have truly been coin flips. Their bench could put them over the top. But it better start soon. Time is running out.

Live Chat: NBA Finals Heat vs. Mavericks Game 3

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