Wednesday, June 14, 2006
It all seemed to be going perfectly. The game was not necessarily in the bag, but up 13 points with just over 6 minutes to play is certainly a spot you love to be in. You have outscored Miami in the first 17:45 of the 2nd half by an absurd collective score of 46-24. And then, bad things started to happen.
Wade scores a bunch. James Posey hit his only basket of the game, which was a huge 3. Wade scores a bunch more. Shaquille hits 2 free throws in a row. Wade scores a bunch more. Gary Payton scores his first hoop of the season. Dirk misses a key free throw when he can’t. Wade scores again. Game over. Trophy taken back. Collars tighten in the Metroplex.
They finish you on a 22-7 run, and Game 1 vs. Phoenix is back in your head as another game that you had, and then gave back because of poor execution on both ends of the court. Its one thing to not be able to stop Dwyane Wade. Very few people can stop him when he gets in his groove, and he flat out willed his team to victory. But how can you not get better shots on offense? Why are the Mavericks in the equivalent of the prevent when they insist on shooting with :02 left on the shot clock?
Now the Mavericks can ponder that question, as they wait for Thursday; a night in which Miami can square this series at 2-2. Ouch.
Quick hits from Game 3 in Miami:
• Through 3 games, I would like to now make the bold claim that Udonis Haslem is guarding Dirk as well as anyone has in these playoffs. Not that Dirk has been stopped, but he has been thrown off his rhythm, and frankly, has not gone off for any extended spurts in this series thus far. He is best defended by making him uncomfortable, and if I am not mistaken, he has been made uncomfortable by Haslem, who honestly was a huge hero last night with his remarkable work on the offensive glass. Funny to remember before the series started that many (including me) thought Miami had no one to guard Dirk. I would like to change my thoughts on that one.
• Speaking of Dirk, that free throw he missed did not help his “national respect” score. I think we all know it, so it doesn’t need to be said, but your superstar really needs to make two free throws with 3 seconds left in a NBA Finals game when you are down 2. It would be nice if he would take one of these next two games by the neck at crunch time. Last night they kept going to him, and with help from Jason Terry, the Mavs best players did not get it done.
• Shaq is still quiet. Not as quiet last night, but still very quiet by Shaq terms. I believe that should now scare us even more knowing that if he erupts, this series will be tied. Whatever Erick Dampier is doing, he needs to keep doing it. Let sleeping dogs lie.
• It is official: After attending playoff games in San Antonio and Miami, I am now ready to say that EVERY NBA team has an over-the-top, annoying, worthy-of-a-Saturday-Night-Live-skit PA Announcer who screams at you. Not just Dallas. They are everywhere.
• One obvious goal by Miami was to take the ball to the basket over and over again. Dwyane Wade gets calls and baskets every time he goes, so why not? That is smart basketball, because nobody on the Mavs can stop him. In fact, it is starting to look like Devin Harris might be the best defensive option against him, but that isn’t saying much. Harris can’t stop him either.
• One good thing to come out of last night’s loss was this: We can stop hearing about that stupid stat of when Josh Howard scores 20 points or more, the Mavericks are undefeated. I will not name names, but I was sitting next to a media member who told me this game is in the bag at 71-66 because Josh just got his 20th point. And he was dead serious. Stats are for losers.
• One way to look at the game is this: If James Posey, Gary Payton, and Jason Williams are all going to hit shots that they normally would miss, and if Haslem and O’Neal are going to hit all of their free throws in that final 6 minutes then you just tip your hat to them and know inside that they were fortunate to beat you. You move on to Thursday and you execute them in front of their fans. But if you don’t….
• A typical game for Marquis Daniels: 1) Check into the game because the Mavericks really need a spark from you. 2) Contribute very little. 3) Throw an incredibly silly pass that will be recorded as your only stat of the night – a turnover. 4) Go back to the bench and enjoy the rest of the game with your warm-ups on
• So Dwyane Wade gets his 5th foul with almost 11 minutes to play, and you cannot get #6 on him? Easier said then done, partly because short of maiming someone to death, the refs weren’t going to get rid of him, but you would have liked to see the Mavericks expose him more on defense. He had to be guarding someone, but aside from Devin Harris’ drive to the hoop in the final minute, Wade stayed out of trouble very well.
• I swear, collectively, the Heat make too many stupid mistakes to win. 20 more turnovers last night and even in loss, you have to believe that it just delays the inevitable. I will maintain my stance that any team with Jason Williams and Antoine Walker consistently making poor choices cannot win a Title.
• Since I was quick to honor Jerry Stackhouse last game, let’s be fair. He was 1-9 last night, missed a dunk, and down the stretch committed a charge and missed an open jumper. Basically, when you needed help for Dirk and Terry, he offered very, very little. Score one for his critics.
• Avery is a genius. Except when his team has to draw up a play with less than 5 seconds to play. Those efforts in Game 1 vs Phoenix and last night left a bit to be desired. So, Dirk inbounds the ball which effectively takes him out of the play with 1 second to play? Very nice defensive move, but since he coaches Dallas and not Miami, I must wonder what the thinking was there.
• Pretty funny bit on the scoreboard last night as they had a parody of the Godfather. Mark Cuban woke up in his bed and pulled the covers back to find the Mavericks horse head under the sheets. He screamed, and the place when nuts. I giggled.
• The first road team to win a game is going to win this series. Will it be Dallas?