Tag: Heat Mavericks Game 5

Miami Heat v Dallas Mavericks - Game Five

Video: Jason Terry sticks in the dagger


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.

NBA Finals: Dallas tops Miami in Game 5 with an outlier, but what of it?

Miami Heat v Dallas Mavericks - Game Five

The Dallas Mavericks took a 3-2 series lead on Thursday night with a 112-103 win, but their tremendous offense — the propulsive force that allowed them to pull within a single victory of taking the NBA title — was immediately tagged as an outlier, and saddled with all of the negative stigma that statistical improbabilities tend to attract. Dallas won the game, but only because they hit “tough” (NBA speak for low-percentage) shots. Only because the Mavericks converted that which should not have been converted. Only because they defied who they are, and managed to jump outside the curve for a swim in the unsustainable.

There’s no escaping the basis of that very idea; Dallas’ hot shooting was indeed an outlier. Single games are, after all, a playground for the aberrations of small sample size. The Mavericks made 68.4 percent of their three-point attempts and posted a 65.9 effective field goal percentage, numbers far above the expected values for any team in the entire league. Yet there still seems to be a fundamental misunderstanding of the role of the mean — the statistical average to which we expect all teams to regress — in basketball. The Mavericks’ mean shooting averages aren’t the most common outcomes for their performance, but simply their most central. They won’t hit those marks in every game, and may not hit them in any game at all. Averages give only the illusion of stability, and though much of basketball is dependent on skill, effort, and execution, we perhaps underestimate the role of randomness (and by extension, variance) in deciding makes and misses, wins and losses.

“You get hot, you get on a roll, and you can have a night like that,” Rick Carlisle said. “They don’t happen very often. Last time we had a shooting night like this was Game 4 against the Lakers. That’s why you just keep working your game, and that’s why you stay persistent, you keep defending, you keep systemically stepping into shots that are there and you’re going to have some breakthrough games.”

Teams that consistently and effectively work for open shots within their offense will always have the upper hand, but all players and teams are subject to the will of the odds. They’ll have hot shooting games and cold ones, and these occurrences are so common and prominent in sports culture that we’ve developed a corresponding vocabulary. Maybe Jason Terry was “in the zone.” Maybe J.J. Barea was “on fire.” Both seem possible or even likely, but the idea is hardly outrageous, especially considering how poorly both have shot in these NBA Finals.

The Mavericks’ amazing shooting in Game 5 merely moved the needle in a positive direction, away from Dallas’ off-setting 4-of-19 (.211) shooting from outside in Game 4. Lost in the declarations of the Mavs’ overachievement was the fact that prior to Game 5, Dallas’ effective field goal percentage in the Finals was actually down significantly from their overall playoff average. Plenty of that has to do with Miami’s impressive defense, but this kind of performance was overdue in bringing Dallas closer to reasonable expectation. The Mavs didn’t really surge forward with their shooting in Game 5, but were merely getting back on track.

“This was our highest scoring game of the series,” Shawn Marion said. “We were bound to get one easy [offensive] game sooner or later. It was just a matter of when it was gonna happen. We should be due for another.”

Maybe the Mavs are. Regardless, did we not expect a degree of oscillation? Was there really an honest expectation that Dallas would be right in line with their shooting averages every single night, without room for error in either direction? Outliers are inescapable. They help to define mean levels of performance, even as they inherently rebuke them. They show the level of success or failure that a team is capable of, if only in extreme circumstances. Yet when we reduce the sample to a single game, those extreme circumstances are more likely to occur than ever. There is no mitigating volume; this is a singular performance by a particular team in a particular game, and yet many act bewildered at the sight of anything out of the ordinary.

Underneath the incredible magnitude of this contest was just a team shooting over its head for the better part of 48 minutes. In a series this competitive, that alone is enough to tilt things in the Mavs’ favor, but it doesn’t make this outlier different from any other. This particular occurrence is granted import through context, but the numbers themselves are the same as they’ve always been: up and down in an endless and inexact flow between two extremes.

Dwyane Wade downplays hip injury, Spoelstra cautious

Miami Heat v Dallas Mavericks - Game Five

As you would expect, Dwyane Wade said the bruised hip (that’s what it is being called officially) he suffered in the first quarter of Game 5 wouldn’t matter come Sunday and a must-win Game 6 for Miami.

“No problem, I’ll be good for Game 6,” Wade said in his post-game press conference, broadcast on NBA TV.

As you would expect, Heat coach Erik Spoelstra was more cautious.

“We’ll have to see how he responds tomorrow,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said after the game. “When he was able to sweat and keep it warm he was fine.

“Fortunately, we have an extra day and we’ll see if that’s enough.”

It probably will be. Even though Wade conceded he was not 100 percent after he came back from the locker room twice from getter treatment he played well. He was 6-of-9 shooting for 15 points with six trips to the line after the injury. It didn’t seem to slow him as he drove both ways and hit some impressive shots, including a little fadeaway over Tyson Chandler’s outstretched arm.

It wasn’t enough, the Heat lost 112-103 and now trail 3-2 in the series, which now heads back to Miami.

The injury happened with 4:01 left in the first quarter. Wade drove the lane and Brian Cardinal stepped in to try and take the charge and they had a pretty physical collision. Cardinal was called for blocking, although that was a pretty borderline play.

Wade was clearly injured and as grimaced immediately. He tried to play through it was within a minutes was on the sidelines then headed back to the locker room for treatment. He played 8:52 of the second quarter but the injury tightened up at half time and he did not come out with the team to start the second half. When he was inserted into the game with 4:33 left in the third quarter he did not come out the rest of the way.

Wade refused to talk about the injury post game, refused to talk about how it did or didn’t impact his game.

“It was unfortunate I had to leave the game, but I came back and I finished it,” Wade said.

He’ll need to play through whatever pain there is Sunday and play well, or it is the Heat that will be finished.