Friday, June 10, 2011

Mavericks use three ball to defeat Heat 112-103 to move within one game of the championship

By Kshell

For the first time in franchise history the Dallas Mavericks are one game away from winning the NBA championship. Once again the Mavericks used a late fourth quarter rally to defeat the Miami Heat 112-103 behind 29 points from Dirk Nowitzki. The Heat lost despite Lebron James recording the franchises first ever triple double in playoff history but once again disappeared in the fourth quarter. The Mavericks unlike previous games finally started to knock down their three pointers making 13-19(68.4%) from downtown. What seems to be a theme this series the Heat grab a late lead in the fourth only for the Mavericks led by Nowitzki and Terry to finish the game off. The story that will dominate this game will be James who has scored just 11 points in the fourth quarter these Finals. Now the Mavericks must win just one game in Miami to be crowned world champions. For the Heat they'll return home but they have plenty of problems that need to be fixed or their season will end in disappointment.

The first quarter featured tons of scoring for both teams. It was a change of pace from the previous four games. The Heat led the first quarter 31-30 due to another half court three pointer at the buzzer by Mario Chalmers. The Heat were led by Dwyane Wade who scored eight points on one for three shooting but was perfect from six free throw attempts. Chalmers added six points on two three pointers in three attempts. Chris Bosh scored four points on two for five shooting while Lebron James scored just two points one one for four shooting. James did have four rebounds and three assists though. The Heat shot 11-20(55.0%) from the field and make three of four three pointers. The Mavericks were led by Tyson Chandler who scored nine points on three for four shooting. Dirk Nowitzki also added six points on two for four shooting. The Mavericks shot 11-18(61.1%) from the field and made two of three three pointers. The first quarter would set up another high scoring second quarter as well.

The second quarter saw more scoring and a major injury. For the Heat they received a scare when Wade was injured and went to the locker room. That is when James carried the team scoring seven points on three for six shooting. Bosh scored nine points in the quarter on three for four shooting including three for three from free throws. Chalmers scored seven points in the quarter making two three pointers. For the Mavericks they were led by Nowitzki who scored 10 points in the quarter on four for five shooting. The Mavericks outscored the Heat in the second quarter 30-26 to take a 60-57 lead at halftime. The Heat who were shooting 20-39(51.2%) from the field and 5-11(45.5%) from three point range found themselves trailing. The Heat were led by Chalmers who had 13 points on four for six shooting from three point range. Bosh also had 13 points on five for nine shooting with five rebounds. Wade scored 11 points and had three assists on two for five shooting from the field but was seven for eight from the free throw line. James scored nine points, six rebounds and four assists on 4-10 shooting.

The Mavericks shot 23-35(65.7%) from the field and made five of seven three pointers for 71.4%. The Mavericks were led by Nowitzki who scored 16 points on six for nine shooting and was perfect on four free throw attempts. Nowitzki also had four rebounds. Jason Terry scored nine points on four for six shooting including a three pointer. He also dished out four assists. Chandler scored 11 points on four for five shooting with three rebounds. The Mavericks took the lead at halftime and for the first time all series were dictating the pacce as this was an offensive game. The Heat would suffer another big blow as Wade would still be hurting and would start the second half in the locker room once again. The Mavericks would waste a golden opportunity to put the Heat away in the third quarter.

In the third quarter the Mavericks would extend their lead to 84-79 as they outscored the Heat 24-22 in the quarter. The Mavericks continued to shoot red hot from the field in the third quarter. The Heat did great damage control as Wade started the third quarter in the locker room. Mike Miller started on the court in his place and knocked down two three pointers giving him nine points on the game on three made three pointers. James would step it up scoring six points giving him 15 points on 7-15 shooting with seven rebounds and six assists. For the Mavericks they were led by Nowitzki who after three quarters had 21 points on 8-15 shooting including a three pointer. J.J. Barea added 11 points including two three pointers giving him three for the game. The Mavericks shot 10-20 in the third quarter and four for seven from three's. After three quarters the Mavericks were shooting 9-14(64.2%) from three pointers. The Heat figured the Mavericks would slow down. Well the Mavericks had other thoughts in the fourth quarter.

The fourth quarter saw both teams make a huge run late in the game. With the Mavericks leading most of the second half the Heat had kept the game within five to seven points. Then with the Heat trailing 95-90 they started to play team ball. First it was Wade who found a cutting Udonis Haslem to the hoop, then it was James who found a cutting Bosh to the hoop. Then James after a turnover made the pass to Wade to give the Heat a 96-95 lead. After another Mavericks miss Wade hit a three pointer to give the Heat a 99-95 lead. That is when the Mavericks would kick it to another gear. The Mavericks would go on a 10-1 run to go up 105-100. Then with the score 105-101 with under a minute to go Terry hit a three pointer with two on the shot block to basically put the game away. The Mavericks outscored the Heat in the fourth quarter 28-24 to win 112-103 ending the game on a 17-4 run. The Heat were led by Wade in the fourth quarter as he scored 10 of the Heat's 24 points. While the Mavericks got eight points from both Terry and Nowitzki while getting six from Barea. The Mavericks came up big once again and now are just one game away from the title.

For the Heat they still have homecourt advantage but that feels like the only advantage they have. The have now lost three games this finals all of which they led in the fourth quarter by more than one possession. The Heat easily could have wrapped this series up in four or five games with a play here or there. Now they find themselves for the first time all playoffs with their backs against the wall. The Heat today actually had good production from their bench. The Heat were led today once again by Wade who scored 23 points on 6-12 shooting while making a three pointer and 10-12 from free throws. Wade also had eight assists with two steals and a block shot. Bosh was the next highest scorer with 19 points on 6-12 shooting while making seven of nine free throws. Bosh also grabbed 10 rebounds as the Heat dominated the glass outrebounding the Mavericks 36-26. Lebron James scored 17 points, dished out 10 assists and grabbed 10 rebounds on 8-19 shooting but missed all four three point attempts. James also had just just two free throw attempts and was one for four shooting in the fourth quarter. He scored his only bucket with the Heat trailing by seven points with less than 25 seconds left in the game. Chalmers off the bench added 15 points making four of six three pointers. Haslem scored 10 points on five for eight shooting while Miller scored nine points making three of four three pointers. The Heat even got six points from Juwon Howard off the bench as he made all three field goal attempts. The Heat outrebounded the Mavericks, got production from their bench, shot well from the field making 37 of 70 shots for 52.9% and 8-20(40.0%) from three's. The Heat got to the foul line making 21-26(80.8%) from the charity stripe. Now the Heat must find the hardest thing to solve right now which is the Lebron James saga in the fourth quarter. I'll dive more into James later in this writeup.

For the Dallas Mavericks they did what they had to do which was win the final two home games. For the Mavericks to have had any shot at winning the title they had to be up 3-2 going to Miami. The Mavericks shot the three point shot extremely well making 13-19(68.4%) from downtown which would beat anyone in the NBA. The Mavericks were led by Nowitzki who scored 29 points on 9-18(50.0%) while making a three pointer and a perfect 10-10 from the free throw line. Terry was big again off the bench scoring 21 points including eight in the fourth on 8-12 shooting including three of five from three point range. Terry also had six assists off the bench. J.J. Barea had easily his best game of the Finals scoring 17 points on 6-11 shooting including four of five from three point range and five assists. Chandler finished with 13 points on five for seven shooting with seven rebounds and two block shots. Jason Kidd had 13 points on four for six shooting including three for four from three point range. Kidd also had six assists and three steals. Shawn Marion scored eight points on 4-11 shooting. The Mavericks offense finally erupted and now must win one final game to bring home the championshp to Dallas.

All in all, the Mavericks are so close to winning their first title. The team that almost everyone(not me) picked to get upset in the first round is now one win away from the championship. While the Miami Heat who had a championship type celebration are one loss away from being the NBA's biggest flop since the 2004 Los Angeles Lakers who lost in the finals despite having four hall of famers on their roster. The series will now shift to Miami as the Mavericks will have to win a game six or seven on the road to clinch the title which has only been done four times since 1985. The Heat instead of relying on homecourt or history must find a way to snap Lebron James out of his fourth quarter slumps. Is James slumping in the fourth or is this simply who he is? The Mavericks know they have their closer which Nowitzki has been amazing at scoring 10.4 points per game in the fourth quarter. The Mavericks led by the man who was loyal to his city are one win away from beating the "super" team. The series shifts to Miami now and the anticipation for game six will be extremely high.


- Rick Carisle made a risky coaching move that has paid off. Usually coaches don't make starting lineup changes in game four of the NBA Finals. Carisle did replacing DeShawn Stevenson with the slumping Barea. Barea in the first three games coming off the bench was averaging just 4.3 PPG and just 1.7 APG while shooting just 5-23(21.7%) from the field and 1-8(12.5%) from three pointers.

Carisle made the switch which allowed Barea to take advantage of the slower more washed up Mike Bibby to get going early. That switch has paid off as Barea the last two games is averaging 12.5 PPG and 4.5 APG. He's shooting 9-20(45.0%) from the field and 4-7(57.1%) from three point range. The Mavericks are also 2-0 with this new starting lineup and as I'll suggest next Erik Spoelstra needs to do something as well.

- Now being down 3-2 coming back home is nothing to panic about at all. I do think Spoelstra should make a lineup change if not two. He already put Joel Anthony in at center over Zydrunas Ilgauskas who wasn't giving the team much. I think Spoelstra has to put in Mario Chalmers over Mike Bibby and just not play Bibby anymore. Bibby in the finals is averaging just 3.8 PPG which includes a 14 points high in game two. Bibby is shooting 7-20(35.0%) from the field and just 5-17(29.4%) from three point range. Most of which was in game two when he made four of seven three pointers. For the playoffs Bibby is averaging just 3.6 PPG on 27-96(28.1%) shooting from the field and 17-66(25.8%) from three point range.

While Chalmers is averaging 10.6 PPG while shooting 15-35(42.8%) and 12-28(42.8%) from three point range these finals. As you can see Chalmers at least is a threat to score while Bibby the Mavericks don't even guard. For the playoffs Chalmers is averaging 7.3 PPG on 49-112(43.8%) shooting from the field and 30-77(39.0%) from three point range. I think since there is only two games left in the season start Chalmers and play just Haslem and Miller off the bench. Maybe give Eddie House some of Bibby's minutes as Bibby has shown through 20 games this postseason that minus one game he is a liability for the Heat.

- It's raining three pointers for the Mavericks. Law of averages kicked in after the Mavericks went 0-13 in the second half from three point range in game four. The Mavericks more than made up for it this game making 13-19 three pointers. The Mavericks had six of nine guys who played hit a three pointer. Barea led the charge making four of five three pointers, then Kidd and Terry both made three for five, then DeShawn Stevenson made one of two three pointers, Nowitzki and Brian Cardinal each made their lone three point attempt. The Mavericks are almost impossible to beat when they are making that many three pointers.

No three pointer was bigger than Terry's three pointer. In the Mavericks three wins in the fourth quarter Terry is averaging 8.0 PPG while in their two losses he was shutout. Nowitzki is getting his points in the fourth quarter regardless while the Mavericks especially Nowitzki are winning because of Terry. Terry is that sidekick that Nowitzki needed in game one and especially in game three. Due to Terry's play (who ran his mouth but unlike Lebron James is backing it up) the Mavericks are now one victory away from the championship. They'll have two games to win one game to win the ultimate prize.

- Could you have two more opposite stars than Dirk Nowitzki and Lebron James? James a gift from god with his size, power, athletic ability, the ability to play all five positions. James is a 6'8" big buff black guy with tons of tattoos. James is a lighting rod which he mostly brings on himself. James isn't afraid to showboat and let everyone know about his "talents". James loves the hype that surrounds him and craves attention. James also bailed first chance he got on his original team because times were rough then made a huge circus this past offseason from the days leading up to the "decision" to the "decision" itself. Then the after math of the "decision" with the championship like celebration guaranteeing seven championships. To this finals were all the attention seems to be on him regardless of what he does or the Heat does.

Meanwhile in Nowitzki you have a guy who is tall and white. A guy who isn't from this country yet most americans can relate to him more than James. A guy who isn't as physically gifted as James but is the deadliest shooter in the league and lives on the free throw line now. Nowitzki like James has had his fair share of struggles in the postseason. That is the only similarity between the two players. Most probably didn't notice that Nowitzki was a free agent last offseason. Most didn't notice because A) we assumed he would resign in Dallas because he is loyal and B) he didn't hype himself up. Instead Nowitzki has hid under the radar all season long and then started to take down team after team. First it was the Blazers who were going to upset them while Nowitzki averaged 27.3 PPG as they eliminated the Blazers in six games. Next up was the two-time defending champions Los Angeles Lakers and Nowitzki averaged 25.3 PPG as they swept the Lakers. Then it was Oklahoma City Zombies who had the best young scorer in the NBA in Kevin Durant and Nowitzki simply averaged 32.2 PPG. Now against the "super" team Nowitzki through five games is averaging 27.0 PPG and averaging 10.4 PPG in the fourth. Nowitzki isn't "flashy" but he just does what an athlete should do which is shut his mouth and just get the job done.

- This NBA finals was supposed to be Lebron James redemption. Nothing cures stupidity like winning. James had own the Eastern Conference on his way to the NBA finals. With the way James was playing he was going to win the Finals MVP in five or six games and all that "decision" crap would seem like a distant memory. Instead James is adding more gasoline to a never ending fire.

James in these finals is putting up decent numbers all around. He's averaging 17.2 PPG, 7.8 RPG and 7.0 APG. To the naked eye you'd say he's having a good series. The problem is that is a good series if he was Chris Bosh or a player on that level. For the best player in basketball his scoring should be increased by at least eight points which in this series is the difference of throwing a parade already and being down 3-2. James has really struggled from three point range as well. In game one he made 4-5(80.0%) from three point range. Since game one though he has shot just 3-18(16.6%). Another alarming stat is that against the Eastern Conference James averaged 9.1 free throw attempts a game while in the NBA finals he is averaging just 3.3 free throw attempts a game. Considering he's a 77.6% free throw shooter he's costing himself on average 4.5 PPG. Now by just getting to the foul line more he would be averaging 21.7 PPG which given his other numbers could be finals MVP worthy. Now in these playoffs he is shooting 35.0% from three point range. If he had made just 35% of three pointers instead of 3-18 that is another nine points over four games which is 2.2 points a game. Now he's averaging 23.9 PPG which doesn't sound that hard if he was playing like his normal self.

Now his fourth quarter troubles have been terrible. He has scored just 11 points(2.2 PPG) in the fourth quarter this series. In the last four games he's averaging 1.5 PPG which the Heat are 1-3 during that stretch. So if James just goes to the foul line like his usual self and makes his average amount of three pointers that is an extra 6.7 PPG which is huge in this series. James made a circus of this past season now he has just two games to avoid being the butt of every joke for an entire offseason. One thing for people to laugh at you about your "decision" that he can justify. Another thing though to be laughed at because he failed on the biggest stage. One more loss and James will have that label that haunted Barry Bonds, Alex Rodriguez, Tony Romo and even Peyton Manning as anti-clutch.

Overall, the biggest winner in these NBA Finals is David Stern as I'm sure the ratings were high for this game five. The game six ratings will most likely be the best the NBA has seen since the early Michael Jordan days. If there is a game seven that could be the highest rated game since the Lakers-Celtics of the 1980's. The Mavericks are a veteran team and not like Miami is such a hostile crowd you can't win there. The Mavericks have what it takes to take care of business and clinch on the road. Just remember the 2-3-2 format is designed for the lower seed to be up 3-2 in the series. When the lower seed is up 3-2 heading into game six on the road in this 2-3-2 format in 1985 they are only 4-3(.571). When said lower seed won the game five to put them ahead 3-2 going on the road they are just 2-3(.400). Just ask the Boston Celtics last year how difficult it is to get that final victory on the road. This series as been great as there has yet to be a blowout. The Dallas Mavericks who are now America's team are just one victory away from the title. The Miami Heat are hoping that homecourt advantage can get Lebron james out of his funk. Should be a highly anticipated game six this Sunday.

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