Tag:Shawn Marion
Posted on: June 12, 2011 1:27 pm

It hasn't been all fun and games for the Heat

Posted by Royce Young

MIAMI -- They make sure to give the appearance of fun all the time. The joking, laughing, ahem, celebrating -- LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and the Heat try to enjoy themselves despite all the negative attention.

But it's not always good times.

"There's been times where we probably where we went through stages and didn't have fun with the game," Dwyane Wade said. "We've had fun, we haven't had fun. We've celebrated, we haven't celebrated, whatever the case may be."

LeBron jumped in. "Should you have said that?" he said, tongue firmly in cheek.

"There's three days left in the season, I don't [care]," Wade responded.

LeBron: "Well, it might get blown out of proportion."

Maybe it wasn't intentional, but the two clearly had a little fun right there in that exchange. But with the way the team has been hammered constantly with negative media attention and an eye on their every move, it would be natural to think that this whole thing might've had some of the joy sucked out of it.

That stuff though, the outside stuff, isn't what has really affected LeBron though. He repeatedly said he was prepared for it and understands that it comes with the territory. To his credit, he's never complained about what's been thrown at him. He takes it, and moves on. What gets to him is when things aren't going well on the court.

"Losing is never fun of course," he said. "Honestly the way we've gotten to this point in our career is by having fun with the game of basketball. I've always said once the game stopped being fun, there's no reason for me to be out on the court. That's the way I've always approach the game on and off the court."

That "fun" they have had though, seems to be what gets them in hot water at times. The so-called celebration in Game 2 that supposedly sparked a major Mavs comeback. The coughing incident before Game 5. Those are moments where it's kind of just boys will be boys, but have clearly backfired on the team. It's really just LeBron and Wade being themselves and trying to have a good times while playing a game -- remember these are grown men dribbling a ball while running around in shorts and tanktops -- but because of the situation, it's perceived as arrogance and ego.

What they do probably lack is a bit more self-awareness. Wade said yesterday that the coughing thing was just mean to be a prank on the media to see if they'd blow it up. Mission accomplished, he said. But not understanding the distraction that causes and how that sort of thing just piles on to the mountain is what frustrates people. They might just be having fun with stuff, but sometimes you've got to act like an adult, like a businessman.

Both LeBron and Wade have done their best to always keep perspective on their situation. Basketball is fun. That's why they play it. That's why they put in all this work. But like LeBron said, losing isn't fun. It's the opposite of fun. When he had to watch the Spurs celebrate a title on his home floor in Cleveland in 2007, he summed it up simply saying, "It sucked."

And if Dallas finishes out the Heat in Miami tonight and LeBron has to watch another team dance on his home floor, there will definitely be no joy in South Beach.
Posted on: June 12, 2011 12:37 pm
Edited on: June 12, 2011 12:48 pm

2011 NBA Finals: Game 6 Experience

Posted by EOB staff

Welcome to our Game 6 Experience, where you can interact with us as we bring you pregame thoughts, quotes, video, audio and the rest. We'll be tracking Game 6 material live from Miami and on the web throughout the day. 

Posted on: June 12, 2011 12:32 pm
Edited on: June 12, 2011 12:34 pm

Matrix didn't bring enough socks for a Game 7

Posted by Matt Moore

MIAMI -- Shawn Marion does not consider himself a role player, he does not consider himself a "reformed" defensive player, and Shawn Marion has no intention of seeing a Game 7 in Miami.

Marion told reporters at shootaround before Game 6 Sunday in Miami that he hasn't even brought enough clothes to see a possible Game 7 should the Heat win tonight.

"I only brought two pairs of socks," Marion said. When pressed on the question, Marion simply repeated, "I only brought two pairs of socks." 

The confidence of the Mavericks has been overwhelming in these playoffs, and no one exemplifies it more than Marion. In these playoffs, Marion has defended Kobe Bryant, Kevin Durant, and LeBron James, while also providing offense. He has hustled in transition, kept his head up and kept himself out of foul trouble, and approached each game as if it was the last, while also not burning out emotionally. He's set the bar as the rest of the Mavericks veterans have. With one more game to validating a career with a championship ring, his confidence doesn't read as false bravado, but as determination.

The only thing standing in Marion's way of a trip home to the washing machine with a title is the Miami Heat.
Posted on: June 12, 2011 12:10 pm
Edited on: June 12, 2011 12:15 pm

Sniffle-gate, day four: No comment

Posted by Royce Young

MIAMI -- On rolls the playoffs' most ridiculous story.

LeBron James and Dwyane Wade spoke to the media after shootaround and it took about 10 questions for someone to finally ask about their response to Dirk Nowitzki calling their coughing act before Game 5 "childish" and "ignorant."

LeBron sort of turned his head as if to say, "Really? We're still asking about this?" and simply said, "We don't have a comment."

The reporter then asked Wade for his reaction.

"We don't have a comment," LeBron said again, speaking for Wade.

It's almost like they're trying to make this story go away or something. Or, maybe someone can go ahead and get fired up about them dodging the question. See, it's a no-win situation here for them. Which is probably why they really should've avoided this in the first place.

But I look forward to someone asking Dirk about LeBron and Wade saying "no comment" and then later asking LeBron and Wade about Dirk's response to the no comment. Really, I don't see an end in sight for Sniffle-gate.

Well, unless the Mavs go ahead and finish this up tonight I suppose.
Posted on: June 12, 2011 12:46 am
Edited on: June 12, 2011 1:04 am

NBA Finals Fix: Mavs looks to close out Heat

The Dallas Mavericks and Miami Heat will play Game 6 of the 2011 NBA Finals in Florida on Sunday night. Posted by Ben Golliver.

One Big Thing: For the fourth time in the 2011 NBA playoffs, the Dallas Mavericks get the opportunity to close out a series on Sunday night, this time against the Miami Heat on Sunday night. In their first three opportunities, the Mavericks went 3-0, winning by an average margin of 108-93. In other words, when presented with the chance to put someone away, they've handled their business with the utmost professionalism.

Those numbers are spiked a bit by their ludicrous Game 4 performance against the Los Angeles Lakers, but the Mavericks also held off a late charge by the Portland Trail Blazers on the road and handled the Oklahoma City Thunder with extreme care down the stretch at home. All three closeouts came on the heels of emotional wins, much like Dallas' thrilling win in Game 5. Against the Blazers, Dallas won an important bounceback Game 5 after collapsing in Game 4. Against the Lakers, Dirk Nowitzki took over in Game 3 against the Lakers, frustrating them to the point that they totally melted down -- flagrant fouls and ejections in a blowout loss -- in Game 4. Against the Thunder, Dallas won a pivotal Game 4 in overtime that swung momentum in their favor for good.

In the Finals, the Mavericks are coming off of their best game of the series, a solid Game 5 win in which they shot the lights out, played excellent defense down the stretch and frustrated LeBron James for at least the third game in a row. Do those factors and recent history point to Dallas closing this one out in their first opportunity once again? 

The X-Factor: Who else could it be except for James? His pedestrian play in Dallas left the assembled media befuddled. Where was the stellar late-game play he displayed in Miami's earlier battles against the Boston Celtics and Chicago Bulls? Why was he so disengaged? The X-Factor in Game 6 is how often James gets to the line. He can keep Miami in games as a facilitator, but he can only push the Heat to their best performances and premier offensive efficiency levels when he parades to the charity stripe.

His free throw splits in the postseason are amazing. Against the Philadelphia 76ers, he averaged 10 free throws per game. Against the Celtics, 8.4 free throws per game. Against the Bulls, 8.8 free throws per game. Those numbers compare favorably with his regular season average of 8.7. In the Finals, James has averaged just 3.2 attempts per game. There's just no way that he can continue at that rate if Miami hopes to win both Games 6 and 7.

The Adjustment: Will Heat coach Erik Spoelstra make any adjustments? While Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle has changed his starting lineup (adding J.J. Barea), shuffled his rotation (cutting down Shawn Marion's minutes), benched a player (Peja Stojakovic) and creatively dealt with an injury (Brendan Haywood) during the course of the Finals, Spoelstra hasn't done much. He's stuck with his guns, for better or worse.

With Miami's back against the wall, we'll see whether Spoelstra stays the course or if he finally gives into desperation a bit. The most obvious change would be to cut down point guard Mike Bibby's minutes, opting either to go with a bigger lineup or to lean more heavily upon (and perhaps to start) Mario Chalmers. Defensively, he could also re-think his late-game defense on Dirk Nowitzki, who has twice beaten single coverage to deliver a game-winning basket. Spoelstra also needs to get Chris Bosh back into the flow, pray that Dwyane Wade won't be limited by his hip contusion and hope James doesn't wear down after he's been ridden into the ground by playing such heavy minutes throughout the postseason. 

Can Spoelstra find a new approach to dealing with these problems? 

The Sticking Point: Miami's home crowd has been derided as a joke all season long. They show up late, wear goofy clothing, require sheets to be used to cover up all the empty seats and are about as unintimidating as a crowd can be. To this point, it hasn't really mattered. Miami was 30-11 at home during the regular season and 9-1 at home in the postseason.

But these are the games in which homecourt advantage mean the most. To fight off a veteran, experienced, clicking team like the Mavericks, the Heat need every possible advantage, and that includes a rowdy crowd that can get on officials, distract free throw shooters and make late-game communication in halfcourt sets more difficult. Miami doesn't really have that ace in its hole. Could that prove to be a fatal Achilles heel?
Posted on: June 11, 2011 9:23 pm

Stevenson denies dissing LeBron James on Facebook

Dallas Mavericks guard DeShawn Stevenson denies posting a disrespectful message about LeBron James on Facebook. Posted by Ben Golliver. stevenson-james
The assaults on LeBron James have come from every direction during the 2011 NBA Finals.

The local and national media have taken plenty of shots. Multiple members of the Dallas Mavericks -- Jason Terry, Shawn Marion, DeShawn Stevenson -- have sent barbs his way. Everyone from television commentators to casual observers have questioned his fourth quarter abilities. But there is one place James doesn't need to worry about hearing smack talk: Stevenson's Facebook page.

One day after ProBasketballNews.com reported that an anti-LeBron message -- "I told em Lebron is Overrated but did they listen? swag." -- appeared on a Facebook page bearing Stevenson's name, the Mavericks guard told ESPNDallas.com that he does not have an account on the social networking site.
“There’s like 37 people that are acting like me on Facebook,” Stevenson said. “I mean, if you look at me and look at all these tattoos, do you think I’d be sitting on the Internet and typing? C’mon, man. Sometimes you’ve got to look at a person. I would not be in my house on a computer typing nothing about anybody.

“I can’t get on there because I would say something reckless,” Stevenson said. “That’s why I don’t have nothing on there. That’s why really I can’t have one.” 
Yes, Stevenson really just played the "I'm technologically illiterate because I am tattooed" card, which is a new one, at least to me.

Stevenson made national headlines earlier in the series, when he said James "checked out" of the fourth quarter of Game 4. The two have exchanged words in the press for years.

James' response at the time was simply: "Talk is cheap." 

If talk is cheap, what does that make an unverified Facebook status update? Cut-rate? Broke? Bankrupt?
Posted on: June 11, 2011 4:23 pm
Edited on: June 11, 2011 9:27 pm

NBA Finals: Mavericks' offense taking control

Posted by Matt Moore

They've defended exceptionally well. They've played smart. They've "grinded" as both coaches are so fond of saying. But the question remains as the Dallas Mavericks seemingly took control after Game 5 heading into a potential closeout game for them Sunday in Miami, was their Game 5 offensive explosion a sign of things to come, or simply an outlier?

After all the Mavericks shot a ridiculous 68 percent from 3-point territory in Game 5. They broke out of a tough, defensive series and wound up with a barnburner offense, especially down the stretch. To make matters better, or worse, they were hitting contested 3-pointers with the shot clock winding down. They convereted low percentage shots into high percentage shots. The Heat could have survived Dirk Nowitzki doing that. They can't survive Jason Terry, J.J. Barea, and Jason Kidd doing that. That's a death sentence for the Heat's title hopes. 

After practice Saturday, Heat coach Erik Spoelstra talked about how with all the defensive intensity through the first four games, Game 5 was in part about the defenses reaching their limits and guys finally getting into rhythm. 

"Sometimes you just get into a rhythm where you're figuring the other team out," Spoelstra said.  After Game 5, Spoelstra commented that the Mavericks are a "shot-making team." The question was whether it was inevitable for the Mavericks, who have shot the lights out in the playoffs, to have a high percentage night, or whether it was a drastic outlier against a remarkably solid Heat defense which will probably not buckle the same way again. 

Udonis Haslem said Saturday that the Heat did have to pick their poison to a degree. 

"They made open shots. They made some contested shots. They made three or four shots that were at the end of the shot clock. All you can do is take the ball out of the net and go run your offense. You can't hang your head about it." 

Mike Miller admitted that the Heat would rather the game be a lower-pace, lower-possession "grind" as Spoelstra always terms it. But Miller also said if the Mavs are hitting those shot they have to adjust.

"That's what's scary about their offense. They're capable of hitting 13-14 threes. We've just got to find a way to grind it out all the same."

But while those contested shots seem like impossible daggers to the Heat, the Mavericks feel like they're right within their wheelhouse. Early on in the series Mavericks Coach Rick Carlisle talked more about how the Mavericks "just needed to make more shots." On Saturday, Jason Terry said instead of being impressed with the offensive output in Game 5, the struggles throughout the series had been frustrating as the Mavericks felt they could make them.

Last game we made shots that we knew we would get," Terry said. "That's probably been the most frustrating thing about this entire series is having those opportunities that we normally get and we're just not making the shot."  

Terry did not shy away from a chance to say that trend would continue. "Play the percentages, I know as a scorer, as a shooter, myself if I get those same opportunities I'm going to make shots.  My teammates are going to make shots."

Terry did say that defense had been the backbone of the Mavericks all year, and that if the shots fell, it only makes it "that much sweeter."  

It was exceptionally sweet for the Mavericks in Game 5. How much an outlier performance was it compared to the rest of the series? Effective field goal percentage is just like field goal percentage, only it gives weight to hitting 3-pointers, since technically, that's a field goal and a half in scoring. Here's a look at just how good the Maverick's eFG percentage was in Game 5 compared to the rest of the series, and even their playoff average, along with Miami's defensive percentage allowed. 

So, yeah, that's a pretty solid outlier of a game, even for the Mavericks' hot shooting throughout the playoffs. But then you also recognize that Game 1 and Games 4, Dallas shot considerably worse than even what the Heat allow. And they split those games. Maybe Terry's right. Maybe for all the appearances of the Mavericks being the lesser defensive team coming in, maybe that's more a reflection of how bad the Heat offense is, and it's going to be the defense for Dallas that wins them a title. 

They get their first shot Sunday. But if those shots keep falling, contested or not, it won't matter if it's an outlier or not. That's the position Dallas has put themselves into. A defensive slugfest, a barnburner, a shootout. The Mavericks don't need the perfect gameplan anymore. They just need one good enough to do what they've done three times for a fourth. After that, all anyone will remember is the confetti and the ring.
Posted on: June 11, 2011 3:37 pm
Edited on: June 11, 2011 3:52 pm

Biggest difference with LeBron? He's missing now

Posted by Royce Young

MIAMI -- Think back a couple weeks with me. The Heat had just finished the top-seeded Bulls in five games and did it in most dramatic fashion. Miami rose from the ashes in Game 5 to come back from 12 down, led by an incredibly clutch performance from LeBron James.

Then just to cement things a little more, the Heat took Game 1 of the NBA Finals behind more crunch time shot-making from LeBron and Dwyane Wade. Over the course of a couple games, the Heat went from a team most saw as a group without a way to close and win tight games to a dominant team in the clutch.

And as things tend to do in the playoffs, all of that spun around again on its head. After two sub-par fourth quarters, LeBron is now being hammered from every direction. Seriously, Google some of the stories written following those games. I feel like we need a record scratch inserted somewhere between those stories and the ones from this past week.

Rightfully so too. This is LeBron James. The best basketball player on the planet. He's not a role player. He's decidedly not Scottie Pippen, or at least not supposed to be. (He's not Michael Jordan either, but let's not go there today.) He's something bigger, something better. So why isn't he playing like it?

He's admitted multiple times to not being as aggressive as he'd like to be, that he can be better. Why? Because he's LeBron Freaking James. Eight points in a game isn't good enough. One basket in the fourth doesn't cut it. We expect more because we know what LeBron can do. It's almost like we're angry at LeBron because we know he can give more. We know he's better than this. And it's frustrating the hell out of us.

But flash back to Game 5 against the Bulls where LeBron was taking over and closing. At that time, everyone saw the Heat as LeBron's team. Dwyane Wade was struggling -- while somehow escaping the death grip of the media -- so LeBron took over. In that comeback in Chicago, LeBron scored 12 of Miami's 26 in the quarter, including eight of the last 14.

Look, however, where he scored those from. Twenty-seven foot 3-pointer. Twenty-five foot 3-pointer. Twenty-one foot jumpshot. LeBron closed, yeah. But he did it by drilling jumpshots. He took only five shots the entire fourth quarter, all being jumpers. Compare that to Game 5 against Dallas. LeBron took four shots (five if you include the charge that wiped out a basket), with three 3s and a 17-foot jumper. It was the exact same stuff from his heroic Game 5 against Chicago.

The difference? The ones against Dallas didn't go in.

"Shots go in, shots don't go in," LeBron said. "When you have the shot, you take them. Some of the same shots I've taken in the other series, they went in. They're not going in for me right now. That won't deter me from taking that opportunity once I get them again."

He's absolutely right. When a shot goes in, it instantly becomes a good one. That's how basketball works. It almost feels silly to reduce basketball down to something as simple as that when we have all these awesome advanced stats and Synergy and whatever else. But the game is about the ball going through the hoop. It's kind of like in baseball when a guy hits one off the end of the bat and it floats perfectly in between the second baseman and the right fielder. There's no asterisk by the hit in the box score. It goes does just as if he smashed a line drive up the middle.

For example, Jason Terry's dagger 3 against the Heat in Game 5. He was up against the shot clock, covered by LeBron and almost 30 feet from the basket. It was a horrible look. The exact same time of look that Miami clanked a couple times in blowing a 15-point lead in Game 2. But Terry's 3 dropped. And now he's a hero.

Thing is with LeBron too is that he's no longer as bad a jumpshooter as once assumed. He's gone from hitting just 34 percent from 16-23 feet in 2007 to knocking down a solid 45 percent of his shots from that distance this year. He shot 33 percent from 3 which is far from great, but that's also what Kevin Durant shot from deep this season too. Percentages exist for a reason though. You're not going to hit 84 percent from 16-23 feet forever. And LeBron has regressed to the mean. It's natural.

What frustrates people with him taking those shots that in reality are good looks for him is that he's the league's best finisher at the rim. When he has the jumper going, he becomes the most unstoppable offensive player since Shaq in his prime. There's seriously not a thing you can do to stop him. That's what he's not doing enough of. There's no attacking off the pick-and-roll. No hard drives at the rim. It's either a jumper or a pass. When the jumper's falling, it's all good.

I think the question here to ask is, is LeBron really doing anything all that different than he did when we were all crowning him as King Closer? Is he being as equally passive and willing to pick spots to shoot, except this time, he's not making them? He took only four fourth quarter shots in the Game 1 win over the Mavs (2-4). He went just 4-9 from the floor in the fourth quarter and overtime in his 35-point outburst in Game 4 against Chicago. He didn't score in bulk, but everything was timely.

He's moving aside in favor of Wade in big moments, no doubt. We kill him for that but LeBron means it when he says, "I have to do what's best for our team to help put our team in a position to win ballgames."

LeBron is an unselfish, extremely team-oriented player, almost to a fault. And it drives us all nuts. He almost has too much talent to be that unselfish. I remember him saying after the McDonald's All-American game when he was a senior in high school that all he cared about was getting the win. I never knew if I believed him on that or if he was just saying it because it sounded good, but I think he's convinced himself that he's only on the floor to help the team win. Whether that means defending, passing, rebounding -- whatever -- LeBron is ready and willing to play a role.

Which is the problem. He's not a role player. He's the best player in the league. And if Miami is going to win this series, he's got to start acting like it. Or at least knock down a couple jumpers.
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