Tag:Joel Anthony
Posted on: June 6, 2011 3:37 pm
Edited on: June 6, 2011 4:44 pm
 

NBA Finals: Stevenson says the Heat are "actors"

Posted by Matt Moore

DALLAS -- Joakim Noah said the Miami Heat were "Hollywood as hell" after the Heat eliminated the Bulls. DeShawn Stevenson said at practice Monday the day after a Game 3 loss to the Heat that the Mavericks are having difficulty taking hard fouls on the Heat because of just how Hollywood they are on the floor when they think they've been fouled.  

Stevenson was asked about giving hard fouls to the Heat like "90's basketball" and Stevenson explained that the Mavericks can't be too physical because of how the Heat react.

"We've got to take hard fouls.You touch them they make it so dramatic, you might get a Flagrant 2. Lot of guys are scared to take that hard foul or do things like that, because they're so magnified, with everything around them."

Stevenson described the Heat as "great actors," noting that they're supposed to try and sell those fouls. 

But on the flip side, Stevenson said the Mavericks are getting points while the Heat are on the floor "being dramatic." In Game 3, the Mavericks repeatedly pushed the pace when the Heat were complaining to officials. Chris Bosh's eye injury that left him on the floor for an entire possession was obviously legit -- he appeared in front of reporters after the game with severe swelling -- but that injury aside, the Heat have repeatedly taken time chirping at the officials, leaving open opportunities. Stevenson said part of the game plan for the Mavericks is to punish the Heat in those times, because they're not playing defense. 

"That's what we have to do. When they get to the bucket and then do that,  Dwyane Wade (and LeBron) aren't playing, they are not getting back on defense, we've got to take opportunity of that. We have a couple times where we get to the set and go through the set to try and get the ball to Dirk. "

The free throw advantage has been slighted in favor of the Mavericks, 80-65 in this series. The Heat need to get to the line to win, and the Mavericks' ability to survive runs is evidence of that. But it can't come at the cost of transition points for a team trying to take advantage of every opportunity the Heat afford them. Maybe in Game 4 the Heat will have more luck getting to the line if they just, you know, play.
Posted on: June 6, 2011 3:48 am
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Posted on: June 6, 2011 3:43 am
 

NBA Finals: Chalmers provides spark for Heat



Posted by Matt Moore

You can claim the shot shouldn't have counted. You can dismiss the performance in light of Bosh's huge second half or Wade's brilliance or anything you'd like, but the same thing keeps coming true. Mario Chalmers is taking advantage of the opportunities he's afforded and making the Mavericks pay for every shot they provide him by leaving him to double the Big 3. 

We thought Chalmers could be the difference maker in Game 3. And while he didn't have any of the dramatic type shots like the one he had at the end of Game 2, his impact was felt. Chalmers finished with 12 points on eight attempts, all from the perimeter, as he once again blistered the Mavericks from the corner. In an 83 pace game, Chalmers' efficiency was key. Chalmers has talked repeatedly this week about taking advantages of opportunities afforded him by the Mavericks' decisions defensively, and in Game 3, he once again made them pay.

"I don't worry about their defense," the man the Heat call "Rio" said, "It's about getting into a rhythm, finding your spots and then knocking them down."  

Chalmers is the youngest player in the active rotation for the Heat, and it shows. He's constantly being singled out by the superstars, constantly being talked to. After Chalmers hit the game-tying shot in Game 2, LeBron James was seen talking to him about his defense on a previous shot by Jason Kidd. When Chalmers picked up his third foul in the first half against Jason Terry and showed frustration, both James and Wade were in his ear. He is pressured to be experienced and make big plays, despite the talent around him and his relative inexperience. But you could tell after Game 3 head coach Erik Spoelstra was pleased with what Chalmers brought to the table.

"He's a tough kid. He's a gutsy player. We all know in big moments he doesn't shy away," Spoelstra said, "He gave us some big plays... He's not afraid of the moment."

After having his moment stolen from him by Chris Bosh in Game 2, Chalmers went right back to work. Little brother is putting in big minutes.
Posted on: June 6, 2011 3:39 am
Edited on: June 6, 2011 3:52 am
 

Chris Bosh responds, delivers Game 3 winner

Miami Heat forward Chris Bosh delivered the Game 3 win with a clutch jumper in the last minute of regulation. Posted by Ben Golliver. bosh-wade-hug

DALLAS -- Miami Heat guard Dwyane Wade had it going in Game 3 of the NBA Finals on Sunday night.

If someone was going to deliver a much-needed road victory against the Mavericks in Dallas, you would have guessed it would be him. Wade traded baskets all night with Mavericks forward Dirk Nowitzki, finishing with 29 points on a collection of forcing dunks, silky lay-ups and clutch threes. 

But it wasn't Wade who put the finishing touches on the Mavericks. Instead, it was the other two of Miami's triad -- forwards LeBron James and Chris Bosh -- connecting on a gutsy pass and ballsy shot that gave Miami its 88-86 victory.

Bosh, in particular, was an unlikely hero. For the third game in a row, he performed below expectations. Early in Game 3, he took a blow to the eye that sent him to the floor in a heap. With his face swelling over the course of the game, Bosh struggled to find his shot, finishing with 18 points on 18 attempts while grabbing just three rebounds.

But Bosh didn't hesitate on the game's deciding sequence. With 39 seconds left in the fourth quarter and the game tied at 86, James found him wide open in the corner with a behind-the-back flick pass. Bosh caught, gathered and released smoothly, burying the jumper before a Mavericks defender could get out to contest. 

"I don't care if he missed 15 in a row, he was wide open and that's his sweet spot," James said. "He was able to knock it down. It's the trust in each other's ability, no matter what the point of the game is at."

Bosh said he expected the pass from James, even if it was a bit risky given the circumstances. "It was the right play. We've been making the right plays. We trust each other. Our guys have been doing a fantastic job of showing that trust, especially in crunch-time situations. This is as big as it gets."

The final shot provided the much-maligned Bosh with a bit of redemption, even if he did his best to remain level afterwards.

"It feels good," Bosh said. "I'm stuck in a place where I don't feel too good, I don't feel too bad. After every game I just look at the game and think about how I can do better and how this team can do better."

Bosh's game-winner came roughly 10 hours after Wade spent Sunday morning after shootaround talking about how he has reached out to Bosh to counsel him though his recent on-court struggles struggles. Wade compared what Bosh is going through against the Mavericks to what he went through against the Chicago Bulls in the Eastern Conference Finals and said the two often exchange words of encouragement.

"He seems fine to me," Wade said when asked if there was something wrong with Bosh. "Obviously Chris understands just like in the Chicago series I understood. When you’re struggling sometimes you understand that we need your aggressiveness on both ends of the floor to help us win this game. Every minute won’t be perfect for us. Just stay in it. Always stay aggressive. Always find a way to help your team win the ballgame.

"Chris has responded any time, all season, any time things have been said about him, or he’s played a bad game, or he’s said something about himself. He’s responded. We have that history on our side and we’re not worrying about him responding."

True to Wade's words, Bosh responded once again on Sunday night. It was the biggest response, and biggest shot, of his career.

Here's video of Chris Bosh's game-winning jumper courtesy of YouTube user TopNewMusic2011.


Posted on: June 6, 2011 3:16 am
Edited on: June 6, 2011 3:32 am
 

Dallas leaves Game 3 with laundry list of laments

The Dallas Mavericks left Game 3 with a long list of missed opportunities. Posted by Ben Golliver. dirk-mad-game-3

DALLAS -- A narrow miss is still a miss.

The Dallas Mavericks fell to the Miami Heat in Game 3 of the 2011 NBA Finals on Sunday night, with a Dirk Nowitzki missed jumper that would have forced overtime at the buzzer.

While the Mavericks were steadfast in asserting that they were more than happy with the look they got with the game on the line, the postgame locker room was full of laments from all corners. 

Here's a survey of some of the things the Mavericks were grumbling about afterwards.

Turnovers

Probably the biggest culprit on the evening was Dallas' turnovers. The Mavericks committed 14 turnovers on the night -- four more than the Heat -- and gave up 19 points off of those miscues. The Heat -- particularly Dwyane Wade and LeBron James -- capitalized in transition off of steals, finishing a number of high-percentage looks in the open court.

"Little things are what cost us tonight," said Mavericks guard Jason Terry. "We're a veteran ball club, that’s what we pride ourselves in. We didn’t get it done tonight. Give them a lot of credit. They took advantage of their opportunities. Every turnover we had basically turned into dunks for them."

Nowitzki said he felt the Mavericks showed improvement in terms of taking care of the ball, but still needed some work.

"We're going to turn the ball over against that team. It's just gonna happen. They're so fast, so long, athletic. They do a good job swarming the ball once we put it down. We're going to turn it over some. I already thought we cut it down from Game 2 to this one, so hopefully in Game 4 we can cut down a couple more and we'll be okay."

The turnovers upset Mavericks forward Shawn Marion because allowing easy points in transition undercut Dallas' solid overall defense. "Whenever we make them play halfcourt, it’s that much harder for them to score."

Terry echoed that point. "As you’ve seen, when we set our halfcourt defense, they struggle to score. That’s something that we need to do for 48 minutes. We have not done that and that’s why we’re looking at a 2-1 deficit right now."

Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle agreed, putting a flourish on the point. "It's extremely difficult when you're watching [LeBron] James go down the court and dunk the ball with his head over the rim. That makes it tough to win." 

Critical Defensive Breakdown

Miami Heat forward Chris Bosh provided the winning points by knocking down an open jumper with 39 seconds left. Nowitzki wasn't happy with how Dallas defended the play.

"We messed up the pick-and-roll in the middle and left James wide open," Nowitzki said. "Tyson [Chandler] left the basket, had to rotate to LeBron, and he kicked it over to Bosh. I was over there with two-on-one, with [Udonis] Haslem and Bosh. Got to give Haslem credit. He set a good pick and Bosh was wide open. I don't really know what happened there in the screen-and-roll, but we definitely messed it up."  

Getting Down Early

The Miami Heat closed the first quarter up seven points and used an early third quarter run to push their lead out to double digits. The Mavericks battled back each time, but the effort needed to dig out of the holes proved to be too much in the end.

"We can't always fall behind," Nowitzki said. "I think we're always reacting. We did in the first quarter. We fell down big. Third quarter we came out slow, fell down big. Obviously it takes a lot of energy for us to fight back."

"One of the things that hurt us was we were digging out of holes all night," Carlisle said. "It's very difficult playing from behind all game."

"It was disappointing to get off to a start the way we did in the first and third quarters," Terry said. "They really came out and were more aggressive on both ends of the floor. And that’s what got them the lead. We were playing from behind. You cannot continue to play from behind in the NBA Finals." 

Lack Of A Second Scoring Option

Nowitzki led the way and continued to be a force on offense, scoring a game-high 34 points and scoring Dallas' last 12 points of the fourth quarter.

Only two other Mavericks finished in double figures: Jason Terry had 15 points on 13 shots and Shawn Marion had 10 points on 12 shots. 

"We didn’t give him much help offensively," Terry said. "I take a lot of that on my shoulders. That’s two out of three games where, offensively in the fourth quarter, I wasn’t able to come up with some big plays or big shots. I’m looking forward to Game 4. We’re going to play it like it’s Game 7."

Carlisle said that Nowitzki is capable of carrying a heavy load, but did admit that a better balance was needed.

"He knows that he's going to have to carry a certain load. Not just a scoring load, but he's going to have to make plays, he's going to have to facilitate, he's going to have to get guys involved ... I don't think this is anything he doesn't expect. We would like to make it easier for him, and at times we can give him some relief, you know, with some rest and some better balance. But tonight was tough. Tonight was not one of those nights."

Missed Open Shots


The Mavericks entered the Finals needing to win big at the three-point stripe. For the third straight game, Dallas was outshot by the Heat from deep. Dallas shot 8-21 (38.1%) and was held to 40.0 percent shooting from the field overall.

Mavericks reserve guard J.J. Barea continued his poor shooting in the Finals, going 2-for-8 for the game and 1-5 from deep. On the series, Barea is now a combined 5-23 overall.

"I had a lot of open looks I need to knock down," Barea said. "I had a lot of threes. They felt great. Some were long, some were short. They just didn’t go down for me. This team needs me to make shots. Everybody needs to make open shots. We kind of struggled with that tonight."

"We're going to have to play more efficiently," Carlisle said. "We're going to have to get the ball in the basket more."
Posted on: June 6, 2011 2:37 am
Edited on: June 6, 2011 6:04 am
 

NBA Finals: Grading LeBron's Game 3



Posted by Matt Moore

So LeBron James "shrunk" in the fourth quarter, supposedly. Let's play a little game of point-counterpoint. 

Point: LeBron James did not take a shot from the 5:26 mark until his attempted game-icing fadeaway with less than eight seconds remaining. He missed.

Counterpoint: LeBron James had four assists in the fourth quarter, including a behind-the-back, only-LeBron-can-make-that-play whip pass to Chris Bosh for a wide-open jumper to win the game.

Point: James himself said that his big contribution was defense in the fourth-quarter, and Synergy Sports reports that he held the players he defended individually to zero points on three shot attempts.

Counterpoint: LeBron did not guard Dirk Nowitzki, who was the Mavs' entire offense the last half of the fourth.

Point: James had 17 points, nine assists, three rebounds, and two steals. Not like he was invisible in this game. 

Counterpoint: A. All anyone cares about is the fourth quarter because they have the memory of goldfish. And B. He had four turnovers, took 14 shots to get that 17 points and missed the game winner!

Point: But it wasn't the game-winner. It was just the game-icer.

Counterpoint: Yes, and he was wide freaking open, but for some reason, elected to dribble and reset, allowing the defender to catch. Look!



Point: So he didn't have a great night. He only scored 17 points, had nine assists, locked down his opponent, made the game winning assist, behind his freaking back, mind you, for the bucket that, yes, won the game. 

Counterpoint: But can we let that go? Isn't he supposed to be the man? Isn't he supposed to dominate in ways never before seen?

Point: No. He's supposed to win. Which is what he did. Isn't that the only thing that matters in the traditional narrative?

Counterpoint: Not for LeBron. Don't ask me why. To answer would take some sort of logic. Tonight's game has somehow turned into a discussion about how a good player ... no, a great player ... no, a superstar player ... OK, probably the best player in this league, had an okay, not-great night while being defended as if the Mavericks were locusts and he were honey. That's it.

Point: Is that fair?

Counterpoint: Do you realize how much attention is on LeBron? Do you recognize how much he created with his ridiculous behavior and then continues to compound it with ridiculous attitude? He flaunts it every single night, which is why so many writers elect to take aim at him, even on a night where they could focus on Chris Bosh stepping up and responding when he was most needed. They could also point to a vintage performance from Dwyane Wade, marvelous defense from good guy and all-around role player Udonis Haslem, Dirk missing a game winner for once, the Mavericks' inability to hold on to the ball and all sorts of other really good angles. Everything is weighed through James, though. That's what he's created for himself.

Point: But even if James has done so, should that be the formula? Is that what we should really be talking about around water coolers and on Twitter tomorrow? How can we honestly criticize certain networks for over-covering LeBron James when we constantly turn the eye to him even when his game doesn't deserve a large share of the attention? James didn't have a bad game, he had a good game. He just didn't have a dominant game. That's not going to happen every night, especially against this defense and especially when he's got other guys who step up for him. Maybe that makes him less of an alpha dog, but it doesn't make him any less of a player and it doesn't make any difference in the 2-1 advantage for the Heat.

Counterpoint: But how do we escape the fact that he's asking to be judged with all these great players and not delivering?

Point: You mean like he delivered in Game 5 against Chcago or Game 4 against Chicag or Game 3 against Cicago or Game 15 against Boston? Like that? We always want to make the narrative about him because he's the hot button issue. He's what sells, and his arrogance is offensive to us. But the reality is that his arrogance is largely manifest in such a way that it's obvious, and that's his only crime. He's not breaking laws, he's not cheating, he's not hogging the ball. The man had nine assists in an NBA Finals game with a ridiculously slow pace! Did that happen by accident?

LeBron James played a C+ game. Good defense with some questionable shot selection after a hot start. He made the plays he needed to and got the win. That's all. There's no shrinkage, there's no failure, there's no great triumph. He was a big part the Heat won but not the biggest part.

And he's still the biggest story.
Posted on: June 6, 2011 1:07 am
Edited on: June 6, 2011 6:02 am
 

Dirk's miss was the shot Mavericks wanted

The Dallas Mavericks react to Dirk Nowitzki's last-second missed jumper in Game 3 of the NBA Finals against the Miami Heat. Posted by Ben Golliver. dirk-haslem

DALLAS – The Dallas Mavericks were inches away from seizing control of the 2011 NBA Finals on Sunday night. Instead, the closing seconds of Game 3 left them without regrets, but also one giant step further from their goal of winning their first title in franchise history.

As in Game 2 on Thursday night, Game 3 came down to the final possession. Trailing the Miami Heat, 88-86, with 4.4 seconds left, the Mavericks called timeout to set up one final look. After battling back from double-digit deficits multiple times, the Mavericks looked to repeat their improbable Game 2 comeback.

“I believed we were going to do it," guard Jason Terry said. “The ball in our hands with four seconds to go? We’re either going to win it or we’re going to overtime. That’s how I feel.”

With that confidence coming out of the timeout, point guard Jason Kidd, the team’s surest ball-handler, was tasked with inbounding the ball. Dallas’ play had two options.

“J. Kidd had me coming off a baseline screen and Dirk [Nowitzki] coming up to the high post,” Terry explained. “Dirk flashed open, it was the right decision.”

That Kidd inbounded to Nowitzki was no surprise. The Mavericks All-Star forward had a game-high 34 points and looked unstoppable at times. He had also scored his team’s last 12 points. The last time a Maverick not named Nowitzki scored a point was a Tyson Chandler putback dunk with nearly seven minutes remaining in the game.

Nowitzki gathered Kidd’s pass near the free throw line, dribbled hard twice to his right, spinning back to his left to create space for a jumper. Heat forward Udonis Haslem, alone in single coverage, stayed with him on the perimeter, slipped briefly and then recovered to get both arms up with the clock winding down.

“He’s fronting me everywhere, trying to keep the ball out of my hands,” Nowitzki said. “He does a good job. He’s active, he’s quick on his feet.”

This was the second consecutive game that Nowitzki found himself at the center of the game-deciding moment. On Thursday night, he beat Heat forward Chris Bosh off the dribble to make a running lay-up to provide Game 2’s winning margin. This time, starting at a similar spot on the floor, Nowitzki elected to pull up for a fall-away jumper that would have sent Game 3 to overtime.

“They didn’t allow him to get all the way to the basket,” Terry said. “But he still got the look he wanted.”

The American Airlines Center held its collective breath as Nowitzki, leaning back at a steep angle, uncorked a fall-away.

“[Haslem] stayed down and made me shoot a contested shot, and a shot I can make,” Nowitzki said.

Mavericks forward Shawn Marion said he looked on with uncertainty as Nowitzki rose to fire.

“I didn’t know [if it was going in], Marion said. “I was hoping it did.”

His release was clean but instantly the fall-away jumper looked long, and it was. The shot caught back rim and bounced high in the air as time expired.

“Unfortunately, it didn’t go,” Nowitzki said.

A contested fall-away jumper at the buzzer comes with a high degree of difficulty. But it also happens to be Nowitzki’s specialty.

 “We’ll take that shot,” Terry said. “He makes that … nine times out of 10. This is the one that he didn’t.”

To a man, the Mavericks shared that sentiment. They weren’t happy with much about their Game 3 performance -- chastising themselves for getting down early, failing to take care of the ball and missing open shots -- but they all said they were happy with the endgame.

“Any time you get the ball in Dirk’s hands, you like what your opportunities are,” Mavericks center Tyson Chandler said. “It’s tough that he’s in that situation. A lot is going to be said about the last play.”

“He loves that stage late,” Kidd said. “He wants the ball and he’s always come through.”

Except on Sunday night, in the much-discussed swing game.

Nowitzki’s miss ceded homecourt advantage back to the Heat and left the Mavericks locker room feeling a solemn dejection. This series isn’t over, not yet, but Dallas’ Sunday morning wide-mouthed swagger gave way to Sunday evening teeth-gritting.

“This definitely was a big game,” Nowitzki admitted. “And a very tough loss. Emotional game, fought back, and to fall short at the end is tough. But they need two more.”

Here's video of Nowitzki's miss at the buzzer.



Posted on: June 6, 2011 12:56 am
Edited on: June 6, 2011 5:56 am
 

NBA Finals: Miami adjusts to stop Dirk



Posted by Matt Moore

You asked the question after Game 2. We asked the question after Game 2. Everyone asked the question after Game 2.  Why didn't the Heat double Dirk Nowitzki on the final play of the game? You have to double Dirk Nowitkzi there. That's what you do. He's Dirk Nowitzki

And on the second-to-last possession for the Mavericks, it looked like the Heat had learned their lesson. They doubled Dirk with 30 seconds left and the result was a turnover, a bad pass as Shawn Marion cut instead of being in the corner.



Great adjustment, right? 

Except that with the game on the line after a missed LeBron James 3-pointer, the Heat had Dirk Nowitzki with the ball at the elbow, his sweet spot, with four seconds remaining.

Stop.

Flashback to Saturday's practice when I asked Udonis Haslem if they would double Dirk Nowitzki if in a similar situation. His response? "I don't know if we'll double or not."

Apparently not.




Haslem played Nowitzki in the post, where Haslem is at his strongest, slid his feet, contested the shot, got the miss. Afterward, Haslem took pride in the job he did.

"He's a tough cover. I"m a competitor, he's a competitor, and we both probably look forward to those opportunities."

Haslem was straightforward about not being confident when Nowitzki released from the elbow. Shooting from a spot he hits from more than he misses, regular season or playoffs.

"An awkward shot for somebody else is a good shot for him. When he got it off, I held my breath."

Haslem's return to the lineup from injury continues to make the Heat a completely different team. His work on the final play exemplifies that, and his teammates definitely had confidence in him. Mario Chalmers definitely did. 

"I knew it was off. UD had great pressure on him, he didn't get a clean look. Even though that's a shot he takes a lot, it's still a tough shot to get off."

Dwyane Wade, Haslem's oldest teammate in Miami, said he had total confidence in Haslem holding the Big German one-on-one, just a day after talking about needing team defense on Dirk. "I was very confident in [Udonis], understanding he wanted that challenge in the last game, and he wasn't able to be put in that position. Put him back in that position this time. I knew he was going at least to make it tough. If Dirk makes that shot, at least do his job and make sure he takes a fadeaway at the end."

And that's pretty much exactly what happened. 

Nowitzki's decision to go to his left will likely be analyzed. Nowitzki had admitted the only concern he had with the wrap on his brace hand was his dribble going left. When Nowitzki pump-faked, Haslem didn't fall for it, instead he kept his off hand high in case he needed to contest, and stayed locked to the floor. When Nowitzki leaned in to brace for the fadeaway and get space, Haslem went straight up, then forward to get a hand in his face. It was about the most perfect defense you can play on Nowitzki one-on-one. Which is why so few people elect to do so. But they got the job done ... or, the shot was no good, in any case.

Haslem was defensive Saturday about the play and the questions of rotations, and it was clear Dirk's Game 2 winner bothered him. This time, there was no straying from the formula, no diversion to an alternate course. Udonis Haslem -- not Chris Bosh, not Joel Anthony, and not LeBron James. No, Haslem is the one to defend Dirk. 

Head coach Erik Spoelstra ducked around the question of whether to double Dirk or not after the game, but the subtle difference was a trust in Haslem's abilities to guard Nowitzki straight up, something Chris Bosh, the hero of Game 3, was unable to do in Thursday's game.

"That was a very similar situation to what we saw the other night. Had a different matchup. That's a makeable shot, even for [Dirk]. But [Haslem] did a great job of keeping his chest in front of him and forcing him into a fadeaway."

Spoelstra admitted that shot was about as terrifying as it gets for a coach in that situation, a mid-range fadeaway from one of the greatest offensive players the league has ever seen, from his comfort zone. "That shot hung up in the air about as long as it was in between Game 2 and Game 3," Spoelstra said. "It was a very good offensive play, and a good defensive play. And he happened to miss." 

And as a result,  the Heat just happened to have taken the advantage in the series, retaken home court advantage, and locked up what many considered the pivotal game of the series. Back in the driver's seat, thanks to great defense, and a defensive adjustment from Erik Spoelstra. Now we get two days to wonder again ... will they double Dirk next time?
 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com