Tag:Shawn Marion
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.
Posted on: June 11, 2011 2:52 am
Edited on: June 11, 2011 10:33 am

Carlisle adjusts first to bring Mavs to victory

Posted by Matt Moore

DALLAS -- Never blink first. That's the rule. You're never supposed to let the other guy see you're affected, that there's anything wrong with your plan. Confidence through everything is the way. And in the NBA, you're never supposed to be the coach who makes the first major adjustment to anything. Lineup, scheme, rotation, approach, anything. Because if you do, and you lose, there's no way you can blame the players. The questions will all come back to you and why you "went away from what worked all season" or "got away form what your team did so well." You're supposed to sit idly by and hope that a trend which had not benefitted you somehow begins to. Because the alternative is far scarier, the dreaded "unknown."

Rick Carlisle didn't want to have to make such a jump. He spoke all week about playing "their" game. He repeatedly said the Mavericks just needed to get back to doing what they do best, rebounding and defense. Except that hasn't been the model for the Dallas Mavericks at all in these playoffs and it was his direct move away from from the stubborness that dooms so many coaches that has his team up 3-2 against the mighty Heat.

Carlisle was the first to make a change in his starting rotation. His insertion of J.J. Barea into the starting lineup accomplished two things. It gave the Mavericks an offensive spark-plug to immediately torch the Heat on perimeter. It also allowed DeShawn Stevenson to combo with Shawn Marion, meaning Marion didn't have to play himself into the ground. Bringing a fresh defender to guard LeBron James has had more to do with this series swinging in Dallas' favor than James' effort.

(Psst! Don't tell the rest of the media! I'm supposed to keep you hanging on to every word about LeBron's heart being made of eel skin!)

Carlisle admitted after Game 3 that changes had to be made. The same signs were present for Erik Spoelstra, but instead, he has elected to stick with Mike Bibby and company. The Heat are stubborn, the Mavericks quietly adaptable. And while Carlisle would deny and defer any praise for his strategic adjustments, it has been Carlisle that has led the Mavericks here, to this point.

Never blink. That's the thought process that turns coaching into a game of chicken. Entering into such a game is what causes you to lose in the first place.
Posted on: June 10, 2011 3:07 pm
Edited on: June 10, 2011 3:19 pm

End Game Dallas: 5 things the Mavs need to do

Posted by Royce Young

So close to the finish line. Just one little win away from the glory. But everyone knows that finishing a series and closing an opponent is the toughest game to win of all. The other guy is desperate, urgent, frantic, about winning one more game to extend the series.

And that's what the Mavericks are up against heading to a Game 6 in Miami. The Heat are down but not even close to out. They've got two games on their home floor with and a roster that includes Dwyane Wade and LeBron James. Winning won't be easy. Heck, it won't even be hard. It's going to be, well, really, really hard.

If the Mavs are to close things out in Game 6 and force David Stern to hand a championship trophy to Mark Cuban in Miami, I've got five ideas that will help the cause.

1. Start fast. The Mavs will be playing a desperate Miami team for the first time this season. And a wounded dog -- especially a wounded talented dog -- can be a dangerous thing. Not that the Heat have a crowd that you want to take out of the game, but momentum is a real thing, especially in important games like this. The Mavs don't want to give the Heat any sense of confidence or swagger. When the Heat are playing lose and confident, they're a better team.

So for Dallas, starting well is important. Eliminate early momentum and make Game 6 into a second half game.

2. Just be close to start the fourth. Related to point No. 1, but the Mavs focus needs to be just making this a fourth quarter game. As well as the Mavs have played in the fourth and as poorly as the Heat have played in the fourth, it would be natural for Miami to tighten and feel the pressure if it's a one or two possession game with eight minutes left.

A close game in the final 12 minutes favors the Mavs. One, because of Dirk. And two, because unlike the Heat, the Mavs have the confidence and have shown the ability to close.

3. Go ahead and make everything again. Well, this isn't exactly realistic, but if the Mavs can hit 10 or more 3s, they'll win Game 6. They made 13-of-19 in Game 5 and while shooting almost 70 percent from 3 isn't likely, the Mavs have shown that once they get rolling a bit, they're tough to slow down.

And you know that if Dallas starts out the game hitting a couple outside shots, shot clock beater and a few contested 3s, that the Heat will hang their heads a bit and say, "Not again."

4. Play Brian Cardinal. Clearly, he was the missing factor. In games he's appeared, the Mavs are 3-0 in The Finals. Hard to argue with a concrete fact like that.

5. Stay calm. I'm in the camp of thinking veteran experience is a bit overrated in these situations, but the older Mavs aren't about to get too excited about their current situation. They know they're one game away, but they also know the mission isn't accomplished. It's natural to sense the glory and get a bit anxious and try and do too much.

But the Mavs have already closed out three series, one coming on the road in Portland. This isn't a team that panics in any situation -- seriously any situation. It's a tired cliche that you've already heard 200 times in the past five days, but Dallas really does have to just play its game. That's been good enough to win three games against the Heat. If the Mavs can put one more together, it'll get that fourth one.
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?
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