You may have more weapons – more firepower – but you still have to use them intelligently. For that matter, you need to use them period.
We’ve seen it in war. We’ve seen it in games.
Last night, Dallas’ 86-83 victory to even the NBA Finals at 2 apiece was a classic case of the Mavericks using their weapons…and their minds…while fans of the Miami Heat have to be losing theirs.
Mavs’ center Tyson Chandler summed up his team’s win perfectly…”We just played with incredible heart and passion.” Indeed, they did.
Chandler was on the court for more minutes than anyone last night (except for LeBron James), submitting 13 points and 16 rebounds, 9 of those on offense. Shawn Marion contributed 16 points in playing just over half the game…and both he and Chandler challenged just about everything the Heat tried to get done in the paint. Grit and determination on display in Big D last evening…which brings us to Dirk Nowitzki.
After starting off making his first three shots, Dirk missed 10 of his next 11. By that time, word of his physical issues were making the rounds. Temperature of 101.
Yet there he was again in the fourth quarter…scoring 10 of his 21 points. He has no issue with taking the team on his shoulders and handling the ball at any spot on the floor in the crucial, final moments. No fear in taking the big shot – ever.
Jason Terry, who was struggling earlier, came alive in crunch time to give Dallas the “other option” they so desperately have needed in this series. It was exactly what Nowitzki was asking for between Games 3 and 4 when he spoke of how important it was for Terry to step up and take some shooting/scoring burden off him. They have been a one-man option team…last night Dallas had more weapons for Dirk…and he and Terry smartly, intelligently managed the Mavs’ weapons down the stretch.
Miami got a stellar 32 point performance from Dwyane Wade, tempered by the fact he rimmed out a free throw down the stretch and mishandled the ball on the Heat’s final possession. Chris Bosh had 24 to hold up his end of Miami’s “Big Three”…which brings us to James…who as stated earlier was on the court more than any other player.
James’ line…8 points, 9 rebounds, 7 assists, 4 turnovers. He only took 11 shots all night, 3 of those from 3 (missed all of them ). He only got to the line 4 times. The most memorable image from the King’s play last night was the slow-motion shot ABC provided of his looking like he was hit with a cannonball in drawing a foul…when he wasn’t even touched. LeBron may have done the entire league a favor here because this moment in infamy might be all the NBA needs to finally initiate a rule against faking fouls similar to the NHL.
We do tend to forget previous Playoff series and games and hit the reset button on each coach and player’s entire career once we get to the NBA Finals. And nobody has their career rewritten on a game-by-game basis more so than James. He was dominant in the Chicago series…but…
Write now…Dirk Nowitzki is looking more like a King in these Finals.