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Tag:Jason Kidd
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.
Posted on: June 11, 2011 2:50 pm
Edited on: June 11, 2011 2:56 pm
 

Dirk calls Sniffle-gate childish, ignorant

Posted by Matt Moore

This story is beyond idiotic. Wade did make fun of Nowitzki, Wade didn't make fun of Nowitzki, its shelf life has reached absurd levels. But no. Here we are, three days after it happened, still talking about it, still asking reporters about it, still being stunningly daft about what it means in a bigger context. There's no high horse here. Obviously trash talk is a fun concept. But this has just gotten absurd and its things like this which are overshadowing actually good basketball.

With that said, here's your obligatory update to what was said after practice Saturday about Sniffle-gate. Trust me, check our numbers or anyone else's, this is what people want to read about.

Dwyane Wade told reporters Saturday that the entire episode wasn't meant to make fun of Dirk, it started as a legitimate cough, which then turned into he and LeBron James joking about how reporters would blow it up. Which, naturally, the media did.

"I wasn't fake coughing," Wade said. "I actually did cough. And with the cameras being right there, we made a joke out of it because we knew you guys were going to blow it up. You did exactly what we knew."

I'm going to pause here and let everyone get out their "Ha! Yeah, right!" 's  and their "A likely story!"'s. I'm going to let you guffaw and shake your head (or "SMH" if you're the Twittering type). Get it all out of your system. And I'm not saying that because I think Wade's being honest. He could be. He very well could not be. But the one thing he's right about is that we, the media, and oh, yes, you the fans (don't think you're not culpable here) took this ten seconds of interaction and made it into a huge deal. We blew it up, Wade's right about that. Whether he's covering or not, it became a story, during the NBA Finals, one that is rife with quality storylines. This became the story for three days. 

The Mavericks for the most part would not take the bait before practice Saturday, with Shawn Marion saying "I hadn't even heard about it until I saw it on CNN this morning." Jason Terry said he had not seen the video and didn't care about it. Dirk Nowitzki was really the only Maverick to say anything about the whole thing.

"I just thought it was a little childish, a little ignorant," Nowitzki said. "I've been in this league for 13 years.  I've never faked an injury or an illness before.  But it happened.  It's over to me.  It's not going to add anything extra to me.  This is the NBA Finals.  If you need an extra motivation, you have a problem."  

What you have is a situation where what Wade and James did probably irked Nowitzki. It's not that it was that bad or it was anything terrible. It's not what's going to drive Nowitzki Sunday, or any of the Mavericks. It's just another example of the Heat not only knowing how to avoid media scrutiny, but swerving directly onto the tracks, then blaming other people for driving them into the train. The Heat are obviously under more scrutiny than any team in history, but it doesn't change the fact that they do something seemingly every game to keep that white hot spotlight there. Maybe it's about attention. Maybe it's about immaturity. Maybe it's just a series of unfortunate events. But every other superstar in the league manages to avoid getting in trouble 9 out of 10 times, while the Heat bat about .400. And this time, they insulted Nowitzki, intentionally or not. 

So Nowitzki jabbed back, obviously offended on a professional level, but he's not going to let it get to him. If the Mavericks close this thing out in six, it won't be because of Wade and James acting like idiots on camera. It'll be because the Mavericks have proved they're the better team and won four out of six. This Mavericks team is made up of experienced veterans. They're not caught up in trash talk, though they dish a lot of it. They want the title, they want the glory, they want to make up for 2006. This is about legacy, not the sniffles.
Posted on: June 11, 2011 1:52 pm
 

Dwyane Wade injury update: Still playing

Posted by Royce Young

MIAMI -- It's not like this is really news, because we all knew that there was no way Dwyane Wade wasn't going to play in Game 6.

He's playing, so says Erik Spoelstra. And so says Dwyane Wade.

"I'll be totally fine when it comes to tomorrow," Wade said.

Wade didn't go through contact drills, but said it was just to sort of rest. He won't be wearing any extra padding for Game 6 and didn't appear to be extra sore or anything on Saturday. He injured his left hip flexor in a collison with Brian Cardinal in the second quarter of Game 5. Wade exited the game and was listed as questionable, but returned shortly after. However, he didn't start the second half of the game because of tightness in the hip. He eventually came back to the floor and finished with 23 points.

"He'll be ready to go tomorrow," Spoelstra said. As far as how how healthy Wade might be, Spoesltra wouldn't speculate.

"I'm definitely not giving a percentage," he said.

But with Game 6 potentially being an elimination game along with the fact that LeBron James hasn't been all that effective, the Heat have to have Wade on the floor. Even if that means he's not totally healthy. Wade downplays injuries better than any player in the league (he could have a broken vertabrae and he'd say he was fine) but he's likely going to be feeling the injury a bit.

It was the same story with Dirk's finger in Game 2 though. Players are banged up. They've been playing with injuries all season. It's a big deal because this is The Finals and every small thing is important, but Wade is playing in Game 6 and most likely, he'll play well too.
 
 
 
 
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