Round 4, Game 4 (Dallas v Miami)

Final score: Dallas 86, Miami 83

Right now the plot of this finals is like a super-cooled liquid it’s so thick.  The series is tied at two games a piece, but nothing I’ve seen in 4 games gives me any reason to believe that the Mavs can pull this series out.  Yet at the same time, nothing I’ve seen from Miami makes me feel like the Heat have locked this series up.

Let’s start with the most glaring story: that of Lebron James.  James had a horrible game.  I know he had 9 boards and, 7 assists and flirted with a triple double, but the fact is that Lebron James completely shrunk from the moment.  Lebron managed just 8 points (a ghastly total considering that the game was decided by 3 points) and somehow turned the ball over 4 times, though he spent much of the game getting rid of the ball.  The thing is that I really have no further insight into Lebron’s stinker.  All I know from watching the game is that A) he wasn’t just having a “bad game” and B) I have no idea how he’ll bounce back.  The truth is that, as Deshawn Stevenson put it, Lebron really did check out of the game.  That should scare the life out of any Miami fan.

But enough about Lebron, let’s talk about the Mavs.  Dallas won game 2 by coming back from down 15 in the 4th and won game 4 by coming back down 9 in the 4th.  They also lost game 3 after coming back from another sizable deficit.  So what gives?  Why does Dallas always fall behind?  Why can they always find ways to get back into games?  How indicative have the last couple games been of the future of this series?  Of the SuperFriend experiment?  The only thing that I can think of is that the Mavs comebacks have less to do with offense than it has to do with their defense.  The one thing that Dallas has consistently been able to do is to force Miami into fairly long dry spells.  For instance, on Tuesday evening, even though Dallas went cold from the field midway through the 4th, they managed to hold Miami scoreless for much of the quarter, allowing their offense to gain steam before Dirk finally made the killer shot.

Speaking of shots, the turning point of the game was Dirk’s driving layup that put the Mavs up 3 with just under 15 seconds to go.  One of the highly successful moves that the Mavs have been able to go to is giving Nowitzki the ball at the top of the key and isolating him, spreading 4 shooters wide.  This may be Miami’s greatest weakness defensively, as they thrive on collapsing on penetration and forcing long shots.  That’s what Miami did to Chicago, forcing Rose to either beat 2 guys off the dribble or kick it out to a shooter.  On a side note, the other turning point I considered were Terry’s pair of buckets midway through the 4th, which led the comeback charge.  However, Dirk’s shot really put the game out of reach in the final minutes and won the day.

Before I go on to the player of the game, I want to point out a couple things that sort of got missed in the ruckus.  First, Jason Kidd had 0 points, 3 rebounds, 3 assists, 3 steals and 4 TOs.  Secondly, Dallas’ bench is completely depleted: Haywood is out, and Peja has lost Carlisle’s trust, leaving Terry and (with Barea’s addition to the starting lineup) Stevenson off the bench.  Brian Cardinal played 7 minutes in game 4, but things could get very, very bad if Dirk or Chandler get in foul trouble early.  Thirdly, even with Lebron James scoring 8 points, he still somehow was Miami’s 3rd leading scorer behind Bosh and Wade.  Usually Miami can win with even 2 of the Big Three showing up, but in game 4 Dallas gave up just 19 points to non SuperFriends.  Finally, Jason Terry did not have a great or even good game.  Terry has been struggling all series and the only reason his points have been increasing throughout the series is because his volume of shots has been increasing as well.  Terry has yet to score 20, yet to shoot 50% and though he made some key plays in game 4, yet to really dazzle in crunch time.

Player of the game time.  I nominate Dirk Nowitzki, but I have a number of points I want to make first.  Being sick doesn’t make his performance on Tuesday somehow legendary.  Jordan scored 38 and hit a game-winning 3 with the flu.  Nowitzki scored 21, couldn’t buy a basket for 30 minutes of the game and got more help than he’s ever gotten since game 4 of the Lakers series.  Four other Mavs were in double digits and considering the defensive burdern Kidd, Stevenson and Marion shouldered, this was as much a team win as any I’ve ever seen.  So, yeah, Dirk was the hero and he is the leader of the victorious side, but he was completely bolstered by the troops in the last game.

Going forward, I’m about 20 minutes from game time, so I don’t really have much time to say anything.  However, I do want to reassert this: I don’t believe in changing my pick on a series (unless the outcome predicted is impossible, obviously), so I’m sticking with Heat in 6.  I wish I had any idea what would happen tonight with Lebron, but I can’t say that any amount of watching basketball would give me any indication one way or the other.  I remember back in 1997 watching the Bulls play the Heat in the semi-finals and Jordan put up an absolute stinker in game 4 with the possibility to sweep the Heat.  After two grueling days of media frenzy, Jordan came back and annihilated the Heat to advance.  If Lebron were Jordan, I’d be putting money down on him scoring 35.  But because it’s Lebron, I’m just as inclined to bet on 15.  Oh, and that “down” game Jordan had – he still scored 20-something.

As it’s been every day for a couple weeks now, I’m betting that the Heat win, but my heart is definitely hoping for a Maverick miracle.

Yours Truly,

Basketblogger

 

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    • Your favorite younger brother
    • June 9th, 2011

    Jordan probably also shot 25+ times, and how do you remember media frenzy from when you were 7 years old?

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