Friday, June 3, 2011

Mavericks overcome 15 point deficit to stun Heat 95-93 in game two to even series 1-1

By Kshell

The Dallas Mavericks stunned the basketball world with their late game comeback to even the series. The Mavericks who trailed 88-73 with six minutes to go came back to win 95-93 as Dirk Nowitzki scored the final five points including the game winner. For the Heat this was their first postseason home loss despite 36 points from Dwyane Wade in game two. The Mavericks were led by Nowitzki who scored 24 points including nine in the fourth quarter. Now the series shifts to Dallas for the next three games as the series is tied at one game. For the Mavericks this was a huge win as only two teams in the last 41 years has came back from an 0-2 deficit. The two areas which the Heat beat the Mavericks in game one didn't happen in game two as the Mavericks outrebounded the Heat 41-30 and their bench outscored the Heat bench 23-11. Whenever a big comeback takes place it begs the question did the Mavericks come back or did the Heat simply collapse? I think it's a mixture of both but it doesn't matter now as the series is tied at one game a piece. These teams had a little bit more offense to start the game then it turned back into a defensive grind.

The first quarter featured a ton of scoring for both teams unlike in game one where they combined to score just 33 points. In this back and forth first quarter both teams were tied at 28-28. The Mavericks were led by Shawn Marion and DeShawn Stevenson who both scored six points and Dirk Nowitzki who scored four points. The Mavericks shot 10-19(52.6%) from the field and made three of four three pointers. For the Heat they were led by Dwyane Wade and Lebron James both scoring eight points. Plus an unexpected six points from Mike Bibby who had hit two three pointers. The Heat had shot 12-20(60.0%) from the field and four of eight from three pointers. The high scoring first quarter had fans hoping for a high scoring game but the second quarter went back to low scoring.

In the second quarter saw a tale of two different quarters for both teams. In the first half of the second quarter the Mavericks had shot 13 free throws to the Heat having just two attempts. The Mavericks also had a 51-42 lead with Lebron James going to bench after picking up his third foul. That is when Wade took over as the Heat then shot nine straight free throws and the Heat went on a 9-0 run to tied it at 51-51. Both teams only scored 23 points in the quarter. For the Mavericks they were led by Marion who scored 10 points on four of five shooting. Then got nine points from Tyson Chandler on three for four shooting, nine points from Stevenson on three for five shooting hitting three three pointers, and Nowitzki scored nine points on 3-10 shooting. For the Heat they were led by Wade who scored 21 points including 13 in the quarter. Wade scored 21 on 9-13 shooting while hitting a three pointer. Then James scored 12 points on five for seven shooting including two three pointers he also grabbed five rebounds. Mike Bibby had six points on two three pointers and Chris Bosh had six points. Bosh shot just two for eight though. In the second half twice the Heat appeared to pull away but the Mavericks didn't quit.

In the third quarter the Heat would sprint out to a 71-61 lead but let the Mavericks off the hook. The Mavericks closed the quarter on a run pulling to within four points. The Heat had outscored the Mavericks 24-20 to lead 75-71 but the Mavericks had survived the first of two big Heat runs. The Heat were led by Mike Bibby scoring eight of his 14 points including two three pointers. The Heat also were led by Wade who had 27 points on 11-15 shooting with six assists through three quarters. James addded 18 points on 8-11 shooting but picked up his fourth foul. Bosh continued to struggle as he was just 3-14 with 10 points with seven rebounds. For the Mavericks Marion kept them in with with six of his 16 points in the third quarter. Nowitzki was still slow scoring just 15 points on 6-15 shooting. Chandler was huge scoring 13 points and grabbing six rebounds. Which set up a fourth quarter for the ages. A quarter that I'll divide into two separate paragraphs since it was two separate quarters.

The fourth quarter began and saw both teams go on large runs. The Mavericks scored a bucket to make it 75-73 that is when the Heat went on a 13-0 run to lead 88-73. During the run Mavericks head coach Rick Carisle went with a small lineup which saw them have Jason Terry, Jason Kidd, J.J. Barrea, Shawn Marion and Dirk Nowitzki. The Heat exploited those matchups and capped the run with a Dwyane Wade three pointer to give the Heat a commanding 88-73 lead with about six minutes left in the game. It was looking like the Heat were finally going to have a blowout victory for once. On the facebook newsfeed, twitter, ect people were already chalking this game up to the Heat. Who could blame them? Wade was playing terrific and Nowitzki was nowhere to be found. The crowd had erupted but then the Mavericks put Chandler back in. The difference between this fourth quarter unlike previous fourth quarters was Erik Spoelstra decided to go with Mario Chalmers instead of Mike Miller. With Miller out there the Heat have a big lineup which make Jason Terry a liability instead of a strength. The game then changed.

The Mavericks responded to the Heat 13-0 run with a large run of their own. I'll break the run down separately as the Mavericks went on an 8-0 run to pull within 88-81. After James made both free throws which were his only fourth quarter points by the way to give the Heat a 90-81 lead the Mavericks responded. Kidd hit a three pointer to pull within 90-84. The Mavericks would then tie the game at 90-90 as the Heat kept settling for one longer jumper after long jumper. Lebron James was 0-4 in the fourth quarter and even though Wade was the hot hand he shot two for five in the fourth. The Heat again settled for a Wade three who missed the shot with under 40 seconds left. The Mavericks had great ball rotation and swung it out to Nowitzki who capped the 20-2 run with a three pointer to give the Mavericks a stunning 93-90 lead. The Heat weren't dead yet though despite making just one of nine three point attempts bench player Mario Chalmers hit a three pointer in the corner to tie the game up at 93-93 with 24 seconds left. The problem is there was 24 seconds left and after Kidd wind the clock down he gave it to Nowitzki who was guarded by Bosh not James. Nowitzki blew by Bosh for the left handed lay up with three seconds left. The Heat had no timeouts inbounded to James who then passed to Wade who missed a half court three pointer. The Mavericks finished the game on a 22-5 run to stun the Heat 95-93. For the Mavericks they shot 10-21(47.6%) from the field while the Heat shot just 5-18(27.7%) including 2-11(18.2%) from three pointers.

This was a huge win for the Mavericks for many reasons. The most important reason is the series is tied at one game a piece. Another reason is only two teams since 1970 have overcome a 2-0 series deficit. The last reason is the Mavericks needed to beat the Heat in the Finals after the 2006 collapse where they were one of the two teams to blow a 2-0 series lead. The Mavericks were led by their leader Nowitzki who hit the game winner, scored nine point in the fourth and finished with 24 points and 11 rebounds. Nowitzki ended up shooting 10-22 and hit the two most important buckets of his life to date. The Mavericks also got plenty of contributions from Shawn Marion who scored 20 points on 9-14 shooting and pulled down eight rebounds. Jason Terry came alive scoring 16 points on 5-11 shooting while Chandler scored 13 points and seven rebounds. The Mavericks outrebounded the Heat 41-30 and their benched outscored the Heat's bench 23-11. The Mavericks will enjoy their flight home while the Heat will have a long flight to Dallas now.

For the Heat this was easily their worst loss of the season. So far these playoffs they haven't really had to face any adversity. They were blown out in game one at Chicago but they have yet to blow a close game let alone lose a game at home. The Heat scored just five minutes in the final seven minutes of the game. The Heat wasted a 36 point effort by Dwyane Wade who was 13-20(65.0%) from the field including two three pointers. Wade also had six assists, five rebounds, three steals and two block shots looking like the Wade of 2006 NBA Finals. Lebron James wasn't his usual best player on the court self. James was limited to just 20 points on 8-15 shooting and made just two of seven three pointers and had five turnovers. James did have eight rebounds but didn't hit a single field goal in the fourth quarter. The Heat had a surprising game from Mike Bibby who had 14 points on five for eight shooting and four of seven from three point land. For the second straight game Chris Bosh was terrible scoring just 10 points on 4-16 shooting and was burned on the final play of the game by Nowitzki. Now the Heat must win in Dallas to return back to Miami. History shows this series is going back to Miami. Since the NBA has gone to the 2-3-2 format in 1985 only the 2004 Detroit Pistons swept the middle three games at home. While the 1990 Detroit Pistons, 1991 Chicago Bulls and 2001 Los Angeles Lakers swept the middle three on the road.

All in all, the series is going back to Dallas tied up at one game a piece. For the first time all playoffs we could actually have a meaningful series. For as great as these playoffs have been there hasn't been much drama in this series. This past conference finals was the first time since 1986 both series ended in five games or less. For the Mavericks they have to be feeling good as their shooters like Nowitzki and Terry finally came through for them. They beat the Heat in Miami with Wade going off and Bibby contributing. For the Heat they have to hope Bosh snaps out of his funk. They also know they had a chance to to put a strangle hold on the series and hope they don't suffer the same fate the 2006 Mavericks did who blew a 13 point lead in game three at Miami. We have a series now and the city who has hosted an NBA All-Star game, MLB World Series, Super Bowl will now host an NBA Finals. Pretty crazy how one city has hosted all of that in the past 18 months. This Finals has just begun and this series will be a fun one for sure.

- The Mavericks were simply tougher than the Heat from start to finish. That was led by Tyson Chandler who had 13 points and seven rebounds including four offensive. Dirk Nowitzki also grabbed 11 rebounds and the Mavericks after being destroyed on the glass last game destroyed the Heat this time.

The Mavericks also won like many who thought they would win by playing team ball. The Mavericks had eight guys score to the Heat have just six guys. The Mavericks bench outscored the Heat's bench 23-11 which is pretty big considering they won by just two points. The Mavericks unlike 2006 with Chandler are a tough physical team. Chandler has also been getting the best of Chris Bosh as well. Bosh is going to have a long series going against Chandler.

- Chris Bosh has had a huge step back in the first two games after a huge step forward in the Eastern Conference Finals. In the last six quarters Bosh is shooting 5-25(20.0%) from the field. Overall for the series Bosh is shooting 9-34(26.4%) from the field and is averaging 15.5 points per game and 8.5 rebounds per game. Bosh is an all-star and now isn't the time for him to disappear like Pau Gasol did against this team.

If the Heat win this series Bosh obviously has to step up. I don't think Bosh will go off like he did against the Chicago Bulls because Carlos Boozer is that bad. I do think he will shoot better than 26.4% from the field though. Bosh I noticed two games in a row with guys like Jason Terry and Jason Kidd guarding him he is passing the ball in the fourth quarter. He is afraid to take that big shot and has lost his confidence. Too many times Bosh, Udonis Haslem and Mario Chalmers would pass the ball to Wade or James with five on the shot clock to take a long low percentage jumper. Bosh wanted to be part of the big three well now he needs to start playing like he belongs there.

- Dwyane Wade is showing that he isn't injured after slumping against the Chicago Bulls. The Mavericks have nobody who can defend him and he is going off on them again like in 2006. In the last six quarters for Wade he is shooting 19-29(65.5%) and for the series he is 22-39(56.4%) from the field. He has made 4-11(36.4%) from three point range but just 10-17(58.8%) from the free throw line.

Wade is so far having a great series averaging 29.0 PPG, 7.5 RPG, 6.0 APG, 1.5 steals and 2.0 blocks per game. Wade is playing like he did in the 2006 NBA Finals but when Bosh struggles the way he does that kind of negates Wade's play. Lebron James was great in game one and in game two struggled especially in the fourth quarter. Wade and James on those two big runs were running and gunning. Had the Heat featured Wade more in the fourth quarter maybe they are up 2-0. Good news for Heat fans is if Wade is playing well just a matter of time before James erupts for a big game. Also just a matter of time before Bosh plays like an all-star.

- Dirk Nowitzki who had played pretty average the first seven quarters of these NBA Finals finally took over in the fourth. Nowitzki scored nine points in the fourth on four for seven shooting after shooting 13-33(39.3%) from the field in the first seven quarters. Nowitzki simply took over and at the end of the game hit the big three pointer to cap the 20-2 run. Then after it appeared Miami would pull off the win Nowitzki hit the game winner with his bad hand blowing by the younger Bosh. Nowitzki took a ton of the blame for the 2006 collapse and he is trying to seek revenge these playoffs.

Most of America is pulling for Nowitzki because although he is German represents what is right with sports. He is the anti Lebron James. Nowitzki was a free agent last summer too and he could have bailed since his team was old. His team had lost three of the last four first round series but he decided to stay loyal to his city and fan base. Nowitzki decided he doesn't need to team up with any other superstars. Nowitzki is painting quite the legacy and now he is three wins away from entering the discussion amongst the games greatest players ever.

In conclusion, the Mavericks made this a series now. The city of Dallas who will be hosting their third major sports championship series in eight months will be an electric crowd on Sunday. The Heat just like the Mavericks tied for the leagues best road record in the regular season. In the regular season both teams were 28-13 on the road so the Heat have won on the road and will have to do so once again to return home. The Mavericks are hoping this fourth quarter is just a start for them to start shooting better. For the Heat they are hoping they play like they did in the first half of the fourth quarter. This is a series which the NBA has wanted now who will win three of the next five games? Three of the next five games will be played in Dallas where the Mavericks are 7-1 in the playoffs. The Heat are hoping Chris Bosh can bounce back while the Mavericks hope this is just a start for things to come. I can't wait until Sunday as this series is now tied at one game.

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