There’s no way to guard Dirk Nowitzki, but the Miami Heat handled shutting down the rest of the Mavs pretty well. When it came down to the final shot, Udonis Haslem just put enough pressure and had just enough luck. Dirk Nowitzki missed the final shot. Chris Bosh, second earlier, waiting patiently for LeBron to find him with flair for a comfortable jumper, didn’t.
The Miami Heat are back on the horse, grabbing a 2-1 lead in the NBA Finals series with their 88-86 win over the Mavs. No one is going to win by a blow out in this series. No one has reached 100 points so far, and I doubt anyone will. LeBron James couldn’t make it happen, so he took a step back, played more of the point-forward role and let Dwyane Wade run the show. D-Wade finished with 29 points, including 7 in the fourth quarter.
Chris Bosh, who has been struggling in the finals, barely shooting over 30% from the field in the first three games, finished with 18 points, 7 in the fourth, and one big jumper from the corner to win the game. Unlike the Mavericks, there were enough guys stepping up for the Heat to win this match. Unlike the Heat, the Mavs can’t contain everyone, and the Heat, struggling when not shooting tres, had just enough to win.
Dirk Nowitzki was great. The 2007 MVP scored 34 points and grabbed 11 rebounds. When he was on the court, the Mavs were up by 12. Miami couldn’t handle him all night. Those long arms, that step back, those awkward looking shots. It was all working for him. The Mavs’ bench outscored the Heat’s bench, a certain recipe for a win in these playoffs for the Mavs. Didn’t work, or just not enough.
Jason Kidd said in a post game interview that someone on this team has to step up to help Nowitzki. Marion did in Game 2, scoring 20 points. This time, he and Jason Terry were the only other Mavs in double figures. Dirk Nowitzki shot 11-21 from the field. The rest of his teammates? 17-49, 34.7%. They can’t find a way to get others involved, mostly during the late stages of the game, when Miami’s defense really clamped down on them, leaving it up to Nowitzki to win the game. He can shoot so many fade away step backs, but not all of them will fall. The most important one didn’t.
Dirk Nowitzki scored 15 points in the fourth quarter, but only two other players joined him in the final 12 minutes. Tyson Chandler with 2 and Barea with 5. For Miami, who felt a bit grieved with the calls from the refs, mostly in the end, not getting enough foul calls going their way in their opinion, a few more guys were involved – Three pointers for Chalmers, a long jumper from Haslem. The Big three, already in an advantage point over Nowitzki, had help.
LeBron James struggled, and didn’t get a few calls he should have gotten. Driving inside during the late stages didn’t happen for him. Maybe he decided he isn’t about to back up those ‘no one can guard me one on one’ words, maybe he just felt the game was going better with Wade and Bosh taking the shots. It’s been a season debate about who should take over in the fourth quarter. So far in the playoffs, LeBron James has handled those moments brilliantly. Last night, he took a step back, wisely, and let Wade run the show.