Handicapping the field for the Conference Finals These have been
The Miami Heat gave away home court advantage in every sense of the word today as they blew a 15 point lead with seven minutes remaining in Game Two of the NBA Finals. Dallas walked away with a 95-93 victory and now have the luxury of three straight home games to look forward to. Early in the second half the Miami PA was playing Bachman-Turner Overdrive’s “Taking Care of Business”, by the end of the game that could be seen as the Mavericks’ theme song, not the Heat’s.
At the midway point of the third quarter the Mavericks looked shaky at best, with Coach Rick Carlisle picking up a technical and the Heat ball movement murdering the Dallas defense. Fortunes were definitely on Miami’s side as LeBron got away with elbows, Jason Kidd was turning the ball over and Dirk was on the bench, replaced with Brian Cardinal.
Even Mike Bibby was hitting three’s. Time out Dallas, down eight with just a touch under four minutes remaining in the third.
The third period ended with a Dallas mini-run however and while surviving a thunderous driving dunk by LeBron James, the Mavs trailed by only four at the final break. Amazing really as watching the game without the score on screen could have left you thinking the Heat were home by 20-plus.
The first five minutes of the final term really couldn’t have been executed much better for the Heat as they defended well, contested shots, rebounded amazingly and scored in transition. There was nothing to be upset about for Miami as Dallas appeared to be on the canvas, down 15 with seven minutes remaining. The “Hollywood Heat” were rolling, James and Wade were animated and the crowd was loving it.
With six minutes remaining Jason Terry made a 13 foot baseline jumper to move the Mavericks to a horrible 2-12 from the field for the period. At this point, Miami still leading comfortably seemed to fall in love with the three-ball momentarily and Coach Erik Spoelstra called for time. A small glitch in concentration and watching live one could be forgiven for thinking the timeout was premature. It was still painfully obvious that the Heat were going up 2-0 in the series, and comfortably.
Having had maximum success with transition baskets triggered by hustle defense, Miami simply switched off at a critical time. Even the half court offense went cold as the Heat reverted to Cleveland Cavalier circa-2009 Basketball, clearing out to allow James to attempt and miss long fade-away jumpers.
From 2:45 remaining until the clock showed only 0:57 the Mavericks not only drew within two on a Nowitzki jump shot but tied the game after yet another pedestrian offensive set by the Heat. Miami continued to walk the ball up the court, looking seemingly un-phased by the run Dallas was on. Miami’s last two possessions produced two long, well defended desperation three-point attempts from James. The crowd was stunned as the Mavericks were on a stunning 17-2 run.
What happened next was unbelievable as Miami again went to the arc and again came up short on a rushed bomb attempt from Dwyane Wade. Dallas utilised great ball movement on the following possession and managed to find their best shooter Dirk Nowitzki open for three…
Yes, wide open for three.
Time Out Miami, down by three. A 20-2 run for Dallas in the fourth quarter. Simply amazing.
And as if the game couldn’t get crazier, Jason Terry went completely AWOL on the next defensive play, leaving Mario Chalmers more open than a “7-11” to tie the game from the arc.
The final possession for Dallas was extremely well executed as Jason Kidd ran the ball down to eight seconds, handed off to Dirk and watched in awe as Nowitzki drove Chris Bosh all the way to the hoop for a lefty lay-up with only 3.6 seconds remaining to give his Mavericks the lead.
Dwyane Wade missed a desperation half court heave as the buzzer sounded as the Dallas Mavericks completed one of the great comebacks in NBA Finals history taking the game 95-93. Wade flopped to the floor on the long-range attempt and could be seen moments later on his back with hand on eye, seemingly asking the referee for his attention. Part of me wondered if Wade’s look was more of shock and disbelief than a request for a foul call. Either way, this one was in the books and the series was tied at 1-1 heading to Texas.
Dallas fans will be rejoicing now as this has officially become a series. As previously discussed, an 0-2 hole would have been almost impossible to climb out of. Some interesting decisions by the Heat late in the game really cost them as it seemed LeBron James and Dwyane Wade wanted to keep attempting a knockout punch that never came.
If Dallas is to wrestle the momentum from Miami in this series now, they must capitalize immediately and to do so will certainly require more stellar play from Shawn Marion. “The Matrix” made several key plays for Dallas throughout the fourth quarter, picking up points and rebounds where he simply wanted it more than the other nine players on court. Dirk will also need to keep “being Dirk” as his play in this game announced him to the series. Nowitzki had his struggles in Game One and this performance might just re-ignite the confidence level.
For Miami the remedy is simple…
Finish the damn game.
We are all aware of how talented the Heat are and today’s result wasn’t caused by a lack of role player performance. This ball was dropped by LeBron James and Dwyane Wade who unfortunately for Heat fans were perhaps guilty of listening to the Miami PA’s jukebox a little too early.
I have no doubt they won’t make that same mistake twice, which could be very bad news for Dallas.
Game Three is played on Monday Melbourne time… Time for someone to take care of business.