Tag: Heat Mavericks Game 4

Jason Kidd (R) of the Dallas Mavericks g

DeShawn Stevenson says LeBron “checked out,” is that news?


Because somehow a Game 5 of the NBA finals with the series tied 2-2 isn’t enough, there seems to be some manufactured drama going regarding LeBron James. And it isn’t even his fault this time.

First comes this from the Associated Press:

Mavericks guard DeShawn Stevenson is directing some sharp words toward Miami’s LeBron James on the eve of Game 5 in the NBA finals. Stevenson says the Heat forward “checked out” in the final minutes of Game 4 on Tuesday night, when James was held to eight points – the lowest he managed in 90 career playoff games.

In general, when you see a controversial quote where only two words are used and not a sentence or paragraph, you should question the context. PBT’s reporters on the ground said Stevenson’s comments on the whole were not that incendiary. Follow up quotes from ESPN Dallas bear that out:

“Dwyane Wade had it going and sometimes you get like that when a player has it going,” Stevenson said Wednesday afternoon…

“Our defense was good, but at the same time he wasn’t in attack mode,” said Stevenson, who scored 11 in Game 4. “We all know that LeBron can get to the basket and when he has his shot going, it’s pretty tough to keep him from the free throw line.”

Besides, didn’t LeBron James say over and over he didn’t play well in Game 4? That’s right, he did Tuesday night and again Wednesday at media availability after practice.

“Definitely didn’t play great offensively,” James said after Tuesday’s Game 4, in which he scored 8 points. “I got to do a better job of being more assertive offensively, not staying out of rhythm offensively the whole game.”

Some are going to try and say Stevenson’s comments fired up LeBron, who will undoubtedly come out much more aggressive in Game 5. Most media see it that way. But LeBron’s play is what should do that — he had Jason Kidd and Jason Terry on him for long stretches of that game and didn’t demand the ball, didn’t attack the mismatch. You can say he “checked out” or “played like Game 5 against Boston last year” or however you wish to define it. Nobody is really denying it, not even LeBron.

Game 5 already has plenty of drama, and how LeBron comes out will be a big part of that game’s story. But these comments have nothing to do with that.

In Game 4, Jason Terry lived up to the talk

NBA Finals Heat Mavericks Basketball

Jason Terry got singled out by Dirk Nowitzki after Game 3. Then Terry talked some smack, saying LeBron James couldn’t keep him down for seven games.

We all chuckled. But after Game 4, Terry is the one laughing.

Terry finished with 17 points, 8 of those coming in the fourth quarter. He attacked the rim off the pick-and-roll. He drained both key late free throws. He wasn’t terribly efficient (6-of-15 shooting, 1-of-4 from three) but in a game where nobody could seem to put the ball in the basket he didn’t need to be.

“The aggression was there for me personally,” Terry said. “And I like that that I was on the attack, which I said I would be.”

Terry attacked LeBron. His first shot in the fourth quarter he got the ball on the wing, went away from the Tyson Chandler screen (before it was really even set) and drove at LeBron to the right, got by him and made the layup. Next trip down on the other side he again attacked off the screen but this time when the help rotated over he weaved into the lane and hit an 10-foot jumper. Those two baskets started the Mavs comeback.

“(LeBron’s) length obviously is going to bother me if I shoot it in his face, it’s going to be contested,” Terry said. “So percentages on those shots are going to go down. But if I can get in the paint and draw the defense and then make the pass or make the shot, then that’s going to be advantageous for us. That’s something I looked to do tonight.”

Terry’s play late was key to the Dallas win. He lived up to what he said and what was expected of him in Game 4.

In Game 5, when we expect to see a more aggressive LeBron, can he do it again? Dallas needs it to happen if they are going to get a ring.

Mavs’ Brendan Haywood could be out for rest of finals

Brendan Haywood (C) of the Dallas Maveri
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Brendan Haywood gave it a shot on his bad hip, he played 3:05 (time that included a nice rest at the end of the first quarter) but he couldn’t do much. Chris Bosh blew by him like he was statue, Haywood had no lateral movement.

And he admitted to ESPN Dallas the strained right hip flexor may keep him out the rest of the NBA finals.

“It’s a four-to-five-week injury. I’m trying to get out there in four to five days,” Haywood said. “That’s just the situation. It’s a little disheartening, but it is what it is.”

Tyson Chandler had a monster game and so Haywood was not missed in Game 4. But Chandler normally sits about 15 minutes a game and no Haywood would leave the not-ready-for-prime-time Ian Mahinmi as the lone sub. Worse yet would be foul trouble for Chandler.

But Dallas is going to have to deal with it as Haywood looks to be out the rest of the way.

Video: Dwyane Wade blocks Tyson Chandler’s dunk

Tyson Chandler, Dwyane Wade

There were a lot of amazing plays down the stretch of Game 4. And a lot of missed shots. But also a lot of great plays.

But the one that may have been the most amazing was Dwyane Wade’s block of a Tyson Chandler dunk. This is not some soft guy rolling to the rim, Chandler is one of the more authoritative finishers in the league. His one offensive move is to roll to the rim and finish and at seven foot he can do that with authority. Then here comes 6’4″ Wade shutting him down.

Wade had maybe a better block on a little floater next trip down. Chandler finished hard over Wade later. These two were maybe the two best players on the floor in Game 4. But Wade won this battle.

Dallas was much more than sick Dirk Tuesday night

NBA Finals Heat Mavericks Basketball

Dirk Nowitzki was an inspiration, a guy with a triple-digit fever hitting what was essentially the game-winning bucket, the dagger shot on a scoop layup with 14 seconds left.

But he’s not why the Mavericks won. Or not primarily.

They won because of zone defense and Tyson Chandler and the pick-and-roll and a number of little things the Mavericks did right. Or at least right enough in what was an ugly yet compellingly entertaining game. Dallas did not get its usual night from Nowitzki, it had to compensate in other areas.

Here are a few things that did work:

Fourth quarter defense: The Mavericks have been a pretty good defensive team in the playoffs that has kept Miami to shooting 42 percent in the first three games, keeping the Heat to 10.5 fewer points per game than they scored in the regular season. But with the game on the line Dallas did a better job — Miami scored 14 fourth quarter points on just 33 percent shooting and Dallas also forced six turnovers. While the Mavs have struggled to contain Dwyane Wade they continued to be aggressive and take the ball out of LeBron James’ hands (he helped with that). The result is LeBron has 9 fourth quarter points all series. Dallas was able to play that fourth quarter defense in part because of …

Zone defense: Dallas tried this a few times in Game 1 and got torched, so they went away from it for a while. But in the key parts of Game 4 they returned to their matchup zone and it got Miami hesitating. In particular LeBron, who was not aggressive all night, saw a zone did not turn the corner on the pick-and-roll and attack, he rather held back looking to pass. His passivity and the aggressiveness of the Dallas defense meant turnovers and poor shots from Miami.

Tyson Chandler: He was arguably the best Mavs player Tuesday night. He had four offensive rebounds in the fourth quarter, nine total and finished with 13 points and 16 rebounds. He is the biggest man on the court and while Dwyane Wade made a sensational block on one play it was Chandler attacking inside that stemmed the tide of Miami’s runs. He was, if not the best Mavericks player, the most aggressive.

Running pick-and-roll with Marion and Chandler: This was a brilliant adjustment by Mavs coach Rick Carlisle. Usually Dirk Nowitzki sets the picks late and Jason Terry comes off them. But the Mavs started using Dirk off the ball (maybe in part to conserve his energy) and having Chandler and Marion as the roll men. It worked to the tune of 16 points on 10 attempts (compared to 2 points the 9 times Dirk set the pick). Chandler has been a force to fear rolling to the hoop since Chris Paul was feeding him the rock and he had some strong moves to the basket in this one. Marion finished with 16 points and got all his made baskets inside of 10 feet. There was room to operate because with Dirk outside the Heat had to respect the shooter.

Fourth quarter execution: For the second time this series, Dallas was the better team in the final six minutes. They did it at both ends — every shot Miami took late was contested, where Dallas was getting good looks by running their offense. They weren’t hitting those shots because it was that kind of ugly game, but Dallas was getting better looks.

Ugly is fine by Dallas. Another comeback is as well. What matters is this is a best-of-three series now. And if Dallas keeps doing these little things they have a real chance at the franchise’s first title.