Tag:Peja Stojakovic
Posted on: June 10, 2011 2:44 pm
Edited on: June 10, 2011 3:15 pm
 

Survivor Miami: 5 things the Heat have to do

Posted by Royce Young



LeBron James tweeted before Game 5, "Now or never." Well, this time with the Heat backed up to elimination, it's a little more now or never. And if they happen to win Game 6, it'll be now or never again.

Point being, this series isn't over yet. But the Heat have to somehow get right. They've dropped two straight to the Mavs and trail for the first time in this series. Dallas appears to be getting stronger as the Heat seem to be tightening and wearing down. If Miami is to get this to a seventh and deciding game, it's going to have to focus on a lot of stuff, but here are five things that come to mind.

1. Come on, LeBron. He had maybe the quietest triple-double in NBA Finals history. Not many players have had a triple-double in The Finals but LeBron's 17-10-10 wasn't good enough. Why? For starters, because the Heat lost. But just one basket in the fourth quarter and two points isn't good enough. It is for Shawn Marion or even Chris Bosh, but we're talking about the best player in basketball. The two-time MVP. The microscope on him isn't always fair, but it's reality.

The NBA is a game about legacy. Fans love it. Media soak that stuff up. And players think about it. LeBron has been talking about establishing himself as a global brand for a long time. He's pretty much there. But he also wants to be one of the greats. And going 0-2 in Finals appearances isn't a good way to start. Yeah, he's still just 26 and a three-peat could be waiting at any moment for him. But we all live in the present. And for real this time, it's now or never for him.

Until next time, of course.

2. Kill the offensive glass. Miami's offense was good in Game 5, but what separated the Heat in Game 1 was 16 offensive rebounds. And in Game 3, a win, the Heat pulled in nine in the first quarter alone. Offensive rebounding hasn't been part of Miami's strength this season necessarily, but any time you get an offensive rebound obviously it gives you another possession, but it takes an extra one away from the Mavericks. And in close games like these, one or two extra possessions is sometimes the difference between winning and losing.

3. Pray the Mavs don't get hot again. The Mavs shot 56.5 percent from the field in Game 5 and went a ridiculous 13-19 from 3. With the way the Mavs have shot this postseason, the Heat have really been living on the edge in this series. Their defense has been terrific, but at some point, the Maverick shooters were going to have One of Those Games.

Game 5 happened to be it. The Lakers thought that plan wasn't sustainable, but Dallas kept it up for four games. The Thunder did better, but Dallas still knocked down a bunch of shots. And if the Mavs have it in them one more time to hit crazy buzzer-beating 3s and impossible runners, Miami might not survive.

4. Pray Dwyane Wade is healthy. LeBron is certainly capable of carrying the team, because no matter what he's done the past few games, he's still awesome. But take away Wade and now the Mavs can really zero in on LeBron. Every catch, he'll be doubled. Every time he puts it on the floor, the defense will collapse. Wade takes a ton of pressure off LeBron and truthfully, allows him to settle into a distributing role, something he's more than willing to do. (Also known as "shrinking.")

Wade might not be 100 percent, but a 60 percent Wade is better than anything else. Playing with a busted hip in Game 5 he still scored 23 points. The Heat need not just his scoring, but his presence to win.

5. Don't panic. Last season, the Celtics took a 3-2 series lead to Los Angeles, needing one on the road to win the trophy. And the Lakers took both games. Dirk said it after the Game 5 win -- it's as if both teams just protected the home court. The Heat won two, Dallas three. Now the Mavs have to win one on the road to get it done.

For the Heat, it's all about Game 6. Win that one and now you're in control. Now, you've got a Game 7 on your home floor. The Mavs will probably say things like, "This is our Game 7," or "This is a must-win for us," because even though those things aren't true, they know that winning Game 6 will be easier than winning a Game 7 in Miami.

The Heat just have to step back and settle down a bit. They're behind in the series, yes. But they're far from out of it. They have the home floor and they have a terrific team. The closing game is the hardest one to win so the pressure is on the Mavs to get it done. The Heat will be desperate, but now's not the time to freak.
Posted on: June 10, 2011 2:00 am
Edited on: June 10, 2011 9:40 am
 

Dallas offensive machine returns in full force

The Dallas Mavericks offense overwhelmed the Miami Heat in Game 5 of the 2011 NBA Finals. Posted by Ben Golliver.

DALLAS – All that was missing was an Andrew Bynum cheap shot.

Game 5 of the 2011 NBA Finals looked unlike any of the previous four grinding, defense-first meetings between the Dallas Mavericks and the Miami Heat. Instead, the Mavericks got back to the hot-shooting, ball-moving, clutch shot-hitting brand of basketball that got them to the Finals.

Even though the stage here is much better than the Western Conference semifinals and the opponent is much more committed to defense, the Mavericks showed the kind of overwhelming team offense that shoved the Los Angeles Lakers into the offseason. That series announced their arrival as serious championship contenders; Game 5 put them on the doorstep of achieving that goal, one win away from the first title in franchise history.

Thursday morning, Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle said his team couldn’t wait for the opportunity to seize control of the series. “We love pressure,” Carlisle said. “Bring it on.”

All-Star forward Dirk Nowitzki brought it, as always, but so too did the Mavericks guards. Jason Terry, J.J. Barea and Jason Kidd combined for 51 points on 29 shots, shooting a combined 10-for-15 from deep. The Heat shot well offensively – 52.9 percent as a team – but simply couldn’t keep pace.

No team could. Not with Nowitzki leading all scorers with 29 points. Not when the Mavericks put up 112 points after averaging 87.8 points in the first four games. Not on a night like this.

“They don’t happen very often,” Carlisle said. “Last time we had a shooting night like this was Game 4 against the Lakers.”

As in the Western Conference semifinals, the shooting barrage left Dallas’ opponent stunned.

“[Dallas] has more offensive firepower than any other team that we’ve played,” said Heat forward Chris Bosh. “They can’t get wide open shots. They can’t get lay-ups. They can’t have guys more than Dirk having a good game.”

When the Mavericks are clicking on all cylinders, they not only have more offensive firepower than any team the Heat has seen, they have more offensive firepower than the Heat. The contributions came from every direction and there was absolutely no hesitation in the fourth quarter.

Terry delivered his best performance of the series, finishing with 21 points, outscoring the Heat 8-3 by himself in the final 3:23 of the fourth quarter. A deep, deep, deep 3 with less than a minute to play and the shot clock running down served as the dagger.

“If there’s space, I’m going to let it fly,” Terry said. “The clock was winding down. It’s just like being out there on the playground back home in Seattle. Emulating your idols in the Finals situation, game on the line. Raise up, knock it down.”

Barea, who struggled to buy a basket earlier in the series, seemingly couldn’t miss.

“If I hit two shots or something like that, I think I’m feeling it,” Barea said with a broad smile. He hit four of his five 3-pointers, finishing with 17 points in just 25 minutes.

But Kidd was the unlikeliest offensive weapon of all, coming off of a Game 4 win in which he scored zero points and attempted just three shots. An aging point guard who has long been derided for his inability to shoot, Kidd finished with 13 points on six shots, including a huge 3 with 1:25 to play.

“For me, at 38, I’ve always felt that I had to improve my shooting if I want to be on the floor and help my teammates,” Kidd said.

“When you come into this league, you feel that you can win a championship,” said Kidd, who is chasing his first NBA title in a 16-year Hall of Fame career. “You just don’t understand when you’re young the competition and the level that you have to play with and play as a team.”

One thing that Kidd -- and those Mavericks who saw the 2006 Finals slip away -- know all too well is that a series isn’t won until the fourth win is secure. With that in mind, the postgame from the Mavericks -- on the doorstep of knocking off the heavily-favored Heat -- was complete caution. No trash talk. No jubilation.

“The series is not over,” Nowitzki said. “There’s really nothing to celebrate. We’re going in there Sunday swinging, like we did today, from the jump.”

“We’re trying to execute our game plan and see if we have the most points come Sunday,” Kidd said. “We’re not looking to knock no one out.”

Maybe not. But Thursday night’s perimter barrage left the Heat teetering on the precipice of a lost season.

Posted on: June 10, 2011 1:51 am
Edited on: June 10, 2011 6:46 am
 

NBA Finals: Nothing easy for the Heat



DALLAS -- If you remember, all the way back when this whole thing started, Dwyane Wade said something that, at the time, seemed arrogant. Now it just looks ignorant.

"The hard part is out of the way," Wade said when the Heat pulled off the free-agency coup of a lifetime, turning the Heat into a super-powered super-contender with super-expectations and super-criticism. The quote has been revisited time and time again as a reminder of what this thing looked like back in July.

But after Game 5 it was put in particularly stark relief. Because, for the Heat, nothing has been that easy. From the first loss to Boston in the season opener, to the injuries suffered to Udonis Haslem and Mike Miller, to the inability to grab the top playoff spot, to two playoff series that looked easy on the outside and were tough, gritty affairs on the inside, all the way to the daggersaurus Jason Terry morphed into with 33 seconds left ... the entire season has been an unexpected battle for Miami.

Think about that. A team with three All-Stars. Three superstars. Everything handed on a free agency platter, what was supposed to be the "hard part." 

And things don't look any easier for the final game, or games, of their season. That much is clear after Game 5.

But what might be of most concern is that, as the series has gone on, things have actually gotten harder for the Heat, and easier for the Mavericks. If Game 5 represented anything, it was the Mavericks' offense finally busting out of the muzzle the Heat's defense had put on it after a playoff run where they had looked nearly unstoppable at times. The first four games were more than a grind, they were a desperate scratch and claw up a sheer cliff. Game 5 was a cannon fire contest and the Heat did not have the guns. As the Mavericks offense broke out, it became about open looks for the Mavericks while the Heat were running head-first into walls. Even as Miami managed to get five players in double figures, along with some bench production, the Mavericks had already gotten out of their corral. And the Heat could not wrangle them again.

An open look for Jason Kidd. A contested 3-pointer in rhythm for Jason Terry. Shots the Heat need the Mavericks to miss, finally fell. After Game 5, Heat coach Erik Spoelstra credited the Mavericks' early work in creating open dunks and looks inside for getting the Dallas into a rhythm from which there was no looking back.

"I think what led to (the late 3-point shooting) were a lot of 'relief' points they got in the first half," Spoelstra said, referring to points created when the defense collapsed on a ball handler and the rotation broke down. "And we talk about this all season long. We try to take away the relief. Easy opportunities in the open court, easy opportunities right at the rim. They were getting all of that in the first half. And the psychological part of that is naturally the basket starts to look bigger."

It certainly did to the Mavs, who shot a blistering 68 percent from 3-point range. They shot an effective field goal percentage (factoring the added weight of 3-pointers) of 65.9 percent, which is the equivalent of landing 48 haymakers in a boxing match. They blistered the Heat by creating open looks inside and then capitalizing on the reactions on the perimeter.

Before Game 4, DeShawn Stevenson said the Heat "don't want to play a tough game." In Games 4 and 5, the Mavericks made the Heat play that tough game, and the result is two losses. Even with an improved offensive output in Game 5, the Mavs offense made the Heat pick a poison, and no matter what they chose, it was toxic. It reminded you of that scene in "The Princess Bride" where the Man in Black poisons both glasses of wine. No matter what the Heat chose, they died from the adjustment.

Spoelstra said after the game that "nothing that [the Heat] have achieved this year has been easy" and they are "certainly not going to start [being easy] now." It's a long way from where the Heat were when Dwyane Wade and LeBron James thought this ride would be a breeze.

Instead, it's only gotten harder.

The only question left concerns Miami's need to win two games, back-to-back. Has winning a title against a team they have been unable to do beat consecutively, even at home where the three superstars first took the stage together, become simply too tough for the Heat?

If it has gotten too hot for the Heat, they won't have to worry about getting out of the kitchen.

Dallas will be happy to throw them out.

Posted on: June 10, 2011 1:12 am
Edited on: June 10, 2011 3:09 am
 

Can Heat win a title with Wade not 100 percent?

Posted by Matt Moore

DALLAS -- Dwyane Wade makes no excuses, and will play in Game 6.

Dwyane Wade is not going to miss Game 6. He can't miss Game 6. He won't miss Game 6. That was clear from the moment he stepped to the podium after the Heat fell behind in a series for the first time in this season's playoffs. Now, the Heat find themselves just a game away from elimination. Wade made it obvious right from the get-go that the hip contusion that held him to 34 minutes, which is still a good amount of time for any NBA player, will not limit him from playing when the series shifts back to South Beach. Wade considered it a non-starter after the game.

"You know I'm not going to do that. I don't talk about injuries. It was unfortunate I had to leave the game. But I came back and I finished it."

Wade also said he could play even if he's not 100 percent, referencing the same was true in Game 5 Thursday night.

But without a fully healthy Wade, who has helped carry the Heat in this series, and with the Mavericks seemingly having "figured out" LeBron James enough to withstand his scoring, and with Dallas effectively swarming Chris Bosh on each possession ... well, things are stacking up against the Heat.

Wade said he felt confident in both his teammates and himself, but Wade's explosiveness has worn down. Just as James seems worn down by the heavy-minutes and long season, Wade seems to similarly lack his earlier explosiveness. Everything is difficult, everything is inches.

With an injury compounding issues, the Mavericks having completely stolen momentum, and exhaustion settling in while the Mavericks' offense has finally broken out, the question has got to be asked.

Is this the hip that breaks the Heat's back?
Posted on: June 9, 2011 11:55 pm
 

Video: Jason Terry, thy name is dagger

Posted by Royce Young



The Mavericks probably had the Heat right where they wanted them anyway. They were leading 105-101 with 45 seconds remaining and possession of the ball.

But with No. 3, No. 6 and No. 1 all on the other side in black, the Mavs needed another bucket to really feel good about their chances. And Jason Terry was there to provide it.

The fact it was right over LeBron had to make it a little bit sweeter, but the triple put the Mavs up seven with 35 seconds left. And pretty much, basically made sure the Mavs were taking a 3-2 lead back to South Beach.

Dirk called Terry out for not being the kind of fourth quarter clutch player that he's been in the past. He wasn't hitting big shots, wasn't doing his jet routine, wasn't closing out games the way he's supposed to and the way the Mavs needed him to.

He kind of sort of made up for that Thursday. He hit the 3 that tied the game at 100-100 and this 3 that put the Heat on ice. Happy now, Dirk?
Posted on: June 9, 2011 11:41 pm
Edited on: June 9, 2011 11:47 pm
 

Video: Dirk goes baseline for big dunk

Posted by Royce Young



The Heat had finally taken control of Game 5 but after Jason Terry tied the game with a 3, Dirk Nowitzki caught the ball baseline and pulled out one of his very Dirk-ish moves.

A subtle head fake and he went hard along the baseline for a big two-handed dunk to put Dallas up two. And to cap off the sequence, Tyson Chandler stepped in to take an important charge on LeBron James, wiping away what would've been a tying layup.

This was the first time Dallas had regained the lead after holding one for almost the entire game. The Heat had battled back to take a five-point lead after a 9-0 by Miami. But the Terry 3, then the Dirk dunk put the Mavs back on top for good and they finished it off 112-103 to take the all-pivotal Game 5 and a 3-2 series lead.
Posted on: June 9, 2011 9:53 pm
 

Video: Chalmers drills halfcourter in Game 5

Posted by Royce Young

Maybe it's just Mario Chalmers' shot.

For the second time this series, Chalmers nailed a half court shot to end the first quarter. This one though, unlike Game 3's, was entirely legal.

The interesting thing about it is that Chalmers' shot gave the Heat their first 30-point quarter since Game 5 of the Boston series. That's 24 quarters that have passed since it happened, and it took a miracle 3 from Chalmers to get it done in this one. Pretty crazy.

Also pretty crazy: How good Chalmers evidently is at this shot.

Posted on: June 9, 2011 9:50 pm
Edited on: June 9, 2011 10:51 pm
 

Dwyane Wade leaves Game 5 with hip contusion

Miami Heat guard Dwyane Wade suffered a hip contusion during Game 5 of the 2011 NBA Finals.

Miami Heat All-Star guard Dwyane Wade exited Game 5 of the 2011 NBA Finals with 2:58 remaining in the first quarter and the Dallas Mavericks leading the Heat, 23-19.

Wade exited for the Heat locker room and remained away from the bench for the duration of the first quarter. Shortly thereafter, the Heat reported that he suffered a "left hip contusion" and was "questionable" to return. 

The injury apparently occured when he drove to the basket and was fouled by Mavericks reserve center Brian Cardinal. Wade collided into Cardinal and then crashed to the ground, also contacting Mavericks guard Jason Terry on the way down. At the time of his exit, Wade's line was 8 points, 2 assists and one turnover. 

With 8:52 remaining in the second quarter, Wade returned to the court. Upon his re-entry to the game, Miami was leading, 40-38.

Update: Wade did not start the second half. Heat forward Mike Miller started in his place. He reentered the game with 4:29 remaining in the third quarter after receiving treatment in the Heat locker room. The Mavericks were leading when he returned, 75-71.

Here's video of the injury courtesy of YouTube user DailyThunder.



A "contusion" is simply a fancy name for a bruise. 

This post will update if any additional information becomes available.
 
 
 
 
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