These NBA playoffs have produced some great moments. Brandon Roy’s 20 point 4th quarter, unlikely rise of the Memphis Grizzlies, the OKC Thunder collapse up 15 to the Mavericks, and Miami Heat’s epiphany when they figured out how to make everything work and then promptly proceeded to sink the Bulls. Last night was the grand-daddy of them all. The Miami Heat had a collapse that was awful in a number of ways. It was unexplainable given the talent on the floor. Lebron James and Dwayne Wade were literally getting any shot that they wanted. In crunch time however, they both settled for shots that they didn’t need. We’ve seen this before with the Thunder. Instead of playing to win, the Miami Heat were playing not to lose. They were hoping that time would run out and that they would have a big enough lead to have won the game when it was all over.
The key to the game. The specific player that this Mavericks could be attributed to besides Dirk is Shawn Marion. Marion always made smart plays throughout Dallas’ scoring drought and subsequent run. He made a number of big shots and his defense was invaluable to the Mavs. Marion scored 20 points on 9 of 14 shooting and had 8 rebounds on a night when that’s what Dallas needed. After getting out rebounded in game one 46-36 Dallas needed a healthy helping of boards and both Marion and Nowitzki delivered. Dirk grabbed 11 rebounds to go along with his 24 points and game winning shot. Dallas needed every rebound they got because they turned the ball over 18 times. Many these turnovers, as is always the case with the Heat, were converted directly in to points.
It’s a game like this where the lack of depth really kills the Heat. They have guys on the floor like Joel Anthony that doesn’t even attempt a shot. He gives them nothing offensively. I know he’s on the floor for defense, but so is Tyson Chandler and Tyson scores points. When Carlisle says a certain matchup that he doesn’t like he is able to make adjustments mid-game because of how deep his team is. Erik Spoelstra doesn’t have this luxury. He has to leave things as is in most cases. He can tweak, but the adjustment will always be one of scheme and not personnel.
Lebron and Dwayne did all that they could early on. Especially Wade who came out of the gate, guns blazing, being aggressive and attacking the basket in a way he hadn’t done previously. Wade scored 36 points in the game. Lebron scored 20 points and was also aggressive early in the game. However, neither player was able to sustain their efforts into the 4th quarter and that was the main reason for the collapse. With Bosh seemingly neutralized by Chandler and Haywood the burden of scoring is completely on Wade and James. They played tentatively coming down the stretch and cost their team a ball game.
Dallas just saved their championship hopes in this game. If they had played all game though, the way they ended the game, they would not have needed to panic. All I know is if the guys compete at this level every game, we could be looking at one hell of a series.