Tag:Shawn Marion
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.


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?
Posted on: June 5, 2011 11:24 pm
Edited on: June 5, 2011 11:39 pm

Chalmers' shot gave Heat an extra three points?

Posted by Royce Young

To end the first quarter, Mario Chalmers hit a buzzer-beating 3 on the run to give Miami a 29-22 after the first 12 minutes. A big shot at the time, because any basket in the NBA Finals is important.

And with the game coming down to two points, it was big at the end too. But there's a twist here: It shouldn't have counted.

By rule, Chalmers was back court when he caught the pass from Udonis Haslem. In order to receive that pass, Chalmers has to first establish himself in the front court. Instead here, all he had was half a sneaker in the front court. So again, he was technically back court.

This is a discussion because Miami had three points it shouldn't have had and with the game finishing with a two-point separation, it becomes an issue. You can't deny that the Heat had an extra three points.

But that shot absolutely, by no means, in no way was why Dallas lost this game. There were still 36 minutes to be played and Dallas had a number of chances to win this game. Human error is a part of basketball. Officials miss calls. I can promise you they missed a bunch tonight. For example, Jason Kidd shuffled his feet when he drew a foul at the end of the first half. Dallas ended up with a point it shouldn't have had there. Dwyane Wade flopped and got a call in the first half that resulted in two free throws. You can go on and on.

Yes, that play was pretty obvious. If it had happened in the final three minutes, it would've meant something. But with so much game to go, it didn't have a direct result on the outcome. It was a piece to a giant puzzle. And besides, I don't think anyone would say this game was poorly officiated. Other than a call or two -- which is to be expected -- the crew did a terrific job in this one letting the players decide things. So salute there.

Rick Carlisle mentioned the call in a diplomatic way saying "there may have been a back court violation at the end of the first half," but used it in reference to climbing out of holes. Which they did. They recovered from that seven-point deficit and had a chance to win regardless of that call. Did it matter? Sure it did.

But just like the goaltend in Oklahoma City that hurt the Nuggets or the other hundred missed calls in these playoffs, this call isn't why Miami won Game 3. Not going to stop some from making noise about it. I'm looking in your direction, Mark Cuban.
Posted on: June 5, 2011 8:56 pm
Edited on: June 5, 2011 8:56 pm

LeBron James dunks on Ian Mahinmi video

Miami Heat forward LeBron James dunks on Dallas Mavericks center Ian Mahinmi. Posted by EOB Staff.

Dallas Mavericks reserve center Ian Mahinmi has been forced into NBA Finals action because of a hip injury to Brendan Haywood. The good news: He picked up right where Haywood left off. The bad news: That meant he got posterized by an All-Star very, very badly.

Who could forget Oklahoma City Thunder forward Kevin Durant throwing down over Haywood in forceful fashion? No one.

But Miami Heat forward LeBron James' treatment of Mahinmi wasn't much nicer.

James promised to be in "attack mode" at shootaround on Sunday morning, and apparently this is what he meant. With the score tied at 22 with less than a minute remaining in the first quarter of Game 3, James beat Mavericks forward Shawn Marion off the dribble. Mavericks forward Dirk Nowitzki swiped at him to no avail, leaving Mahinmi as the only defensive presence between James and the rim.

That's a bad place to be, and James showed why, rising high to dunk with his right hand over the top of Mahinmi.

Here's a look at the video of LeBron James posterizing Ian Mahinmi. It's worth sticking around for all the replays.

Posted on: June 5, 2011 8:06 pm

NBA Finals: Cleveland fans in Blue

Posted by Matt Moore

Immediately before the national anthem and startings lineups, a fan was showed on the jumbotron in Dallas of a fan decked in blue. The sign was on simple posterboard and marker. It drew the loudest screams of any of the packaged pre-game material. The sign read simply:


If ever there was a sign that the Mavericks are "America's Team" against the most hated team in the league by fans, that may be it. Cleveland's favorite team may be the Cavaliers.

They're next favorite has been, and continues to be whoever is facing the Heat.  
Posted on: June 5, 2011 7:27 pm

NBA Finals: Brewer ready if called on

Posted by Matt Moore

Corey Brewer is there, he's ready, but he's also happy as a pig in sty. There's been increasing calls for Brewer to get time over Peja Stojakovic, who has struggled defensively. The Mavericks are -10 overall with Stojakovic on the floor while Brewer has gotten very little time. On Sunday before a pivotal Game 3, Brewer admitted it was difficult attempting to stay ready to play at a moment's notice, but understands that this opportunity is too good to waste. 

 "It's difficult but at the same time it's fun. When I come in I've got to bring all the little things I can do to help the team win."

Brewer's length and athleticism would be a big help at times against the super-athletic wings Miami brings to the table. The big question mark has been Brewer's comfort with the Mavericks' defensive system, despite his instant defensive energy and athleticism. Brewer, though, says that's not the issue, and instead it's simply a matter of the team's success relying on its veteran core. 

"I feel like I'm comfortable. I've gotten some regular season games, a little bit of time in the playoffs. But at the same time, it's a veteran team. It's hard to argue against getting time because we're winning. That's all that matters."  

Carlisle hasn't reached the tipping point to play Brewer much yet, but if Stojakovic's shot goes cold, Brewer's going to be called upon for a spark. After that it's whether that energy can offset his inexperience and whether Rick Carlisle is brave enough to trust the young player to defend two of the best wing players in the game on the biggest stage.  
Posted on: June 5, 2011 6:56 pm
Edited on: June 5, 2011 7:18 pm

Mavericks C Brendan Haywood out for Game 3

Dallas Mavericks center Brendan Haywood is out for Game 3 of the NBA Finals. Posted by Ben Golliver. brendan-haywood

DALLAS -- Dallas Mavericks reserve center Brendan Haywood will not play in Game 3 of the NBA Finals against the Miami Heat on Sunday night due to a right hip flexor injury suffered in Thursday's Game 2. Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle told reporters in his pre-game availability that Haywood had been ruled "out" and that reserve guard Rodrigue Beaubois would replace him on Dallas' active list.

"Haywood is out tonight, so he will not play," Carlisle said. "It will change our rotation obviously. He's one of our biggest guys, we all know that. We've got some different scenarios. [Ian] Mahinmi will most likely play some minutes and then there's the possibility that we look at some other lineups that would obviously be smaller. We're going to have to adjust."

Haywood is averaging 3.3 points and 4.3 rebounds during 16.0 minutes per game during the postseason.

"I was hoping for a miracle and it didn’t happen," Haywood told Mavs.com before Game 3. "Hopefully I’ll be ready for Tuesday."

Mahinmi, a 24-year-old center, has played just six minutes in two appearances in the 2011 playoffs. On the season, he made 56 appearances, averaging 3.1 points and 2.1 rebounds in 8.7 minutes per game.

"[Coach Carlisle] told me right after the game to stay ready," Mahinmi told CBSSports.com's Matt Moore before Game 3 on Sunday. "So I've been working to be ready mentally and physically after we got back after the game Thursday. So I've been working on where we're playing pick and roll on [Dwyane] Wade and LeBron [James], and our defensive principles and rebounding. It's not like my team expects me to go out there and score 40 points and get 40 rebounds and block every shot."

Throughout the weekend, the Mavericks maintained that Haywood would be a game-time decision and that he was "questionable" with his hip injury. On Saturday, Haywood said he "felt something pull" as he chased a play in transition.

Carlisle reiterated that Haywood's absence makes it even more important that starting center Tyson Chandler, who is playing 31.1 minutes per game in the playoffs, stays out of foul trouble.

"Look, we've got to play the game on the ground as much as possible," Carlisle said. "When they get us in the air, that's when we foul. Their game is in the air and our game is on the floor. We're better when we stay on the floor.

"You can't preach too much to a guy like Tyson. 'Be careful, be careful.' Because a lot of his game is his enthusiasm, his aggression, his energy. At this point, 16 or 17 games into the whole playoffs, I've got to believe he's got a pretty good feel for things and he'll have to gauge all of those things. We obviously need him. We need a lot of other guys ready to step up as well." 

Beaubois, a 23-year-old guard, appeared in just 28 games this season after dealing with a foot injury and has not made an appearance yet in the playoffs. Beaubois averaged 8.4 points and 2.3 assists in 17.7 minutes per game.

Miami Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said there would be no changes to his active roster. Centers Zydrunas Ilgauskas, Jamaal Magloire and Dexter Pittman will remain inactive.
Posted on: June 5, 2011 3:04 pm

LeBron James promises 'attack mode' in Game 3

A snappy LeBron James promises to be in "attack mode" at shootaround on Sunday before Game 3. Posted by Ben Golliver. lebron-corner

DALLAS -- Seated in the corner of American Airlines Center with his arms crossed, rows of seats covered with t-shirts and signs behind him, Miami Heat forward LeBron James made two things clear. First, he didn't want to hear about how important Sunday night's Game 3 was. Second, he knows he needs to do more offensively.

This factoid has spread like wildfire through over the last 48 hours: During the history of the 2-3-2 Finals format, the series has entered Game 3 tied 1-1 11 times. The winner of Game 3 has gone on to become NBA champions all 11 times.

Asked whether that bit of history added an urgency to Sunday night's game, James, speaking flatly and quickly, did his best to downplay it.

"You respect numbers and you respect history," James said. "But Game 3 is it's own. We can't worry about a series or Game 4 or Game 5. We have to worry about tonight. That's the only thing that's important."

Minutes later, a tardy reporter asked James the very same question, attempting to cite the same number.

"LeBron, history says that the winner in this situation ..." the reporter began.

James didn't let him finish the sentence, interrupting with a shake of his head.

"The winner in one-one in Game 3," James interjected. "They already asked me that. Next question."

Another reporter tried to change the subject, asking for James' thoughts on being the villain on the road in front of a hostile Mavericks crowd. James decided he didn't want to hear that either.

"I have answered that question before too this year," James said, sounding irritated. "Next question."

The one thing James did want to talk about: Improving his offensive output. James is averaging just 22 points per game in the Finals so far. He has attempted just six free throw attempts combined in the first two games while shooting seven three-pointers in Game 2 alone. Expect those numbers to be different in Game 3, James promised. 

"I will be in attack mode tonight," James said. "Six free throws in two games for me is unacceptable ... We have to attack. That's when we're at our best."

Heat coach Erik Spoelstra noted after Saturday's practice that the Heat use its ratio of three-pointers to free throws as an indicator of whether they're being aggressive enough offensively. The goal is to always shoot more free throws than threes. During the regular season, the Heat were 51-16 when they shot as many free throws as threes. When they shot more threes than free throws? They finished 7-8.

During the playoffs, the contrast is even more stark. The Heat are 12-1 when they shoot more free throws than threes. They are 1-3 when they shoot more threes than free throws, including Thursday night's Game 2 loss when the Heat jacked up 30 three-pointers while getting to the line 24 times. 

"We can't shoot 30 threes," James said. "We can't shoot more threes than we did free throws. We talk about stats, we're not a good team when we do that. When we outshoot threes than free throws, we're not a good team."

James said Miami has the personnel to get the ratio back on track.

"It's simple," he explained. "We've got three guys that have been in the top 10 their whole career in free throws per game. Myself, [Chris Bosh] and [Dwyane] Wade. If we shoot threes and we don't attack we're not successful. We're not getting to the rim, we're not putting pressure on the defense."

Attack mode can't begin until the Heat withstand the immediate energy rush that goes with playing a road game on the road.

"We look at the first two or three minutes," James said. "We understand that this team will come out with a lot of energy. Their fans are going to be looking forward to this. They've been looking forward to this since they played them in 2006. We're looking forward to the challenge."

Even with the series shifting to new surroundings here in Dallas, James stressed that he felt like he knows what to expect on the court.
"It's going to be elecritifying in here.  Their home fans are going to give them a lot of energy. After that it's going to be a basketball game. It's going to be the same team we've seen the last two games. A team that offensively plays great, shares the ball and defensively, just tries to be active defensively, makes us take contested jumpers. It's not like they're putting anything in new. We're not putting in anything new at this point. We'll see what happens."

All eyes turn to James to deliver.
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