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Tag:Erick Dampier
Posted on: June 8, 2011 9:07 pm
Edited on: June 9, 2011 6:35 pm
 

Playoff Fix: The King and the pivotal swing game

Posted by Royce Young



One Big Thing:
LeBron. Game 5 is maybe the most intriguing NBA game in the last 10 years mainly because of LeBron James. How is he going to respond? What's he going to do? Is he going to overplay? Slink back again? Take over? It's just fascinating stuff. And oh yeah, the series is tied 2-2 and the winner of this game moves within a game of an NBA championship.

So basically, if you're not watching, then I'm not sure we can be friends anymore. Game 5 has about as many storylines as any game I can think of, any sport included.

The X-Factor: LeBron. I just went over this, but either LeBron is going to own Game 5 or he won't. And if LeBron plays like we all know he's capable of -- remember, he's the best player in the league -- then the Heat have a big edge. But if LeBron shrinks back into an awkward role playing position, content to just defend, rebound and swing the ball at the top of the key, the Heat have lost their best player and seen him reduced to a glorified Shane Battier.

It's becoming an issue of what LeBron brings. The Heat survived Game 3 with LeBron doing just enough and Wade carrying the load. They won't be able to last through Game 5 with LeBron scoring in single figures. They won't be able to win with him just passing the ball. He has to be a factor and, if he is, he's The X-Factor.

The Adjustment: LeBron has to be more LeBron. (Are you sensing a theme?) That doesn't mean he has to aggressively attack. Here's an interesting stat: The Heat are 15-1 this season in games LeBron takes 11 or fewer field-goal attempts. The first loss, of course, being Game 4. So it's not all about LeBron chucking 25 shots.

But he has to dominate the game. And he can do that while taking just 11 shots. He can create points in a bunch of different ways. It's about him being the LeBron James who has won two MVPs and probably was the best player this season too.

The Sticking Point: This is the last home game of the season for the Mavericks. And if they don't win, it's on to Miami where they have to win back-to-back games on the road. Not impossible, but if Dallas wants a real shot at this championship, it's got to approach Game 5 as a must-win situation.

The Mavs were desperate in Game 4. And really, they'll be the desperate team in Game 5 because it's more important for them than it is the Heat. But again, how does Miami respond? How does LeBron respond? It's why I'm almost counting down the seconds to this game. I can't think of any sporting event that's had this much intrigue since maybe the Giants-Patriots Super Bowl.

You better be watching. Because if not, you might be missing something incredible.
Posted on: June 8, 2011 7:56 pm
Edited on: June 9, 2011 6:03 am
 

NBA Finals: The Miami Heat vs. Mavs' attrition



Posted by Matt Moore

DALLAS -- It's bugging them. That's pretty obvious. They're not downhearted about it. It's more a matter of it being as amazing to them as it is to the rest of us. With each game of the 2011 NBA Finals a matter of just a handful of possessions, the Heat are in a dogfight night after night, with every single play of absolute crucial intensity. The fact that the two teams have a total scoring differential of five points through four games has the pressure at an all-time high.

Winning the Finals is stressful. This series is pure heart attack material.

So it should be no surprise that the Heat admitted that it's frustrating being so close in each game and watching leads evaporate in half of them.

"It's a little frustrating," Udonis Haslem said Wednesday, "because we've got a chance to effect the outcome of these games. Having double-figure leads, and the letdowns we've had. Last night, we had a nine-point lead and had a letdown. We didn't expect a sweep, though. They're going to play like champions."

Those comebacks are what the Mavericks have lived off of. In reality, there would be a question if the Mavericks could continue to come back time and time again, except for the fact that they've come back time and time again. The comebacks and consequential collapses by the Heat are a product of how close each game is and how they've come down to only a handful of possessions. The Heat had 34 possessions (via Synergy Sports) in Game 4's first quarter. They had just 24 in the fourth and scored just 14 points off them. 

Forward Chris Bosh said it was less frustrating to him and more just a product of how incredible and "strange" this series has been.

"It's not frustrating," Bosh said. "It's just amazing that's what it's coming down to. You look at the stat sheet and you're like, 'I don't know how we won that game.' Then you look at last night's and you're like, 'I don't know how we lost that game.'"

Bosh began to point to the infinitely small set of possessions that resulted in a tied series. But when he started going, you start to get a picture of the number of things the Heat have failed to control against the Mavericks.

"You look at the film, it's a handful of possessions. Loose ball here, loose ball there. Executing in the stretch. Maybe in the first quarter, you've got a turnover or we weren't concentrating."

Bosh sighed. "It just makes you have to focus a lot more. You can't let up at any time. You have to be ready the whole 48 minutes. It's encouraging, but it's exhausting."

Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle talked extensively before Game 4 about the offensive "lulls" the Mavericks would go into, allowing the Heat 7-0 and 9-0 runs. He stressed the need to avoid those. When the Mavericks went into one during the fourth quarter of Game 4, they managed to do the same thing to the Heat. With the game ground to a halt, the Mavs converted just enough possessions to close out the Heat.

For Miami, the reality is starting to turn to face them. DeShawn Stevenson said after Game 4 the Heat "don't want to play a tough game." And Heat coach Erik Spoelstra echoed what this series has turned into as it has progressed: a war of attrition.

"It is a mental and physical test of endurance all the way to the last possession," Spoelstra said.

Miami simply hasn't had the fortitude to hold onto leads since Game 1. Even their Game 3 win, which seemed so impressive just days ago (as Mike Miller said, "that's how this thing goes"), now looks like more of an example of the Heat barely hanging on to another blown lead rather than closing out.

But if the Heat had managed to defend Dirk the way they did in Game 3, everything would be different. The pressure, the media approach, the impression that they're collapsing. Instead, even with the series tied, the alarm is starting to sound about the Heat. They have an opportunity in Game 5 to set the tone once again. The question will be if any Heat player is tough enough to step up and take control of the series, or if the Heat can get back to the collective approach that led them to the gates. If the Heat don't have those answers, the war of attrition that is these NBA Finals will take its toll.

And it will only get worse from there.


Posted on: June 8, 2011 6:12 pm
Edited on: June 8, 2011 6:55 pm
 

LeBron James takes heat, from himself and others

Miami Heat forward LeBron James takes criticism from himself and others. Posted by Ben Golliver. lebron-james-face

DALLAS – Following Miami Heat forward LeBron James’ confounding no-show in Game 4 of the NBA Finals, the question on everyone’s mind on Wednesday was simple: What the heck happened?

 “[He] checked out,” Dallas Mavericks guard DeShawn Stevenson said. Later, he referred to James’ detached passivity as “weird.”

“I just feel like he wasn’t in attack mode,” Stevenson added. “I think when he’s in attack mode, he can put a lot of pressure on us. I don’t know what was happening last night, but me playing against him all these years, that wasn’t himself.”

James wouldn’t bite when asked about Stevenson’s comments.

“DeShawn, he's been talking for a long time, since our Washington‑Cleveland days,” James said. “I don't let that get to us. Those guys are playing well. We're playing well. It's a three‑game series. Talk is cheap. You have to play the game of basketball. Let the scores and the plays define the game. We don't get caught up in that too much.”

While those two exchanged words like they have for years, the rest of the Mavericks were more concerned with pinpointing the reasons for James’ lack of assertiveness on offense and talking up his ability as a playmaker.

Mavericks forward Shawn Marion pointed to Heat guard Dwyane Wade’s ball dominance late as a major contributing factor in James’ struggles.

“They’ve got to take turns on who handles the ball, who’s not handling the ball,” Marion said. “[James is] one of their primary ball handlers. When he’s not handling the ball, he’s not in the play.”

Stevenson agreed. “If you have a player like Dwyane Wade or Chris Bosh and they have it going, you tend to defer… You go back and look at film and TV, you can kind of see he’s deferring.”

The player who came to James’ defense more than any other, surprisingly, was Mavericks guard Jason Terry, who questioned James’ defense earlier this week. Terry said on Tuesday that James can dominate a game even without scoring and seemed to imply that the criticism of James' Game 4 performance was overkill.

“Pick your poison,” Terry said of James as a scorer or as a facilitator. “Him getting a triple double, that will help them. They’ll win the game. He almost had one last night, and they almost won the game. LeBron is unique. He’s a unique character. If you want to categorize him as just a scorer, you’re doing it all wrong. He’s like Magic. He’s a guy who can affect a game without scoring 30, 40 points. He can get it done on both ends.”

Terry did get in one subtle dig, though.

"I don't really care what to expect from him [in Game 5],“ Terry said.

In other words, this series won’t be decided by James alone.

Stevenson and Marion, despite the trash talking throughout the week and during games -- which Stevenson calls "jaw-jacking" -- did make an outward attempt to distance themselves from the back-and-forth.

“Great players just need a little thing to get it going,” Stevenson said. “You don’t want to say anything bad or anything, but he’s talented enough to use anything in the paper to boost his ego.”

“Y’all gonna gas up anything we say regardless,” said Marion said just hours after Deadspin.com posted a video of him scoring on James and directing a taunt at him. “I don’t get into that talking smack. We’re competitors, and we’ve got respect for each other.”

At the eye of the storm, James said he’s trying to tune everything out, including the media reaction to the worst game of his playoff career.  

“I haven't read anything that was written,” James said. “I didn't play well, especially offensively. I know that. I've got to do a better job of helping this team win basketball games, especially late, no matter what it is.” 

Besides, James said he doesn't need to listen to others criticize him. He is already doing that to himself.

“Eight points is definitely inexcusable for myself,” James said. “I hold myself up to a higher standard. I had to do a better job of putting myself in situations where I can benefit myself and my team, no matter how many minutes I'm out on the floor.

“I was hard on myself all last night,” James said. “Anytime I feel like I could have played better and the team loses, that's what it's all about. If I have a bad game and we win, I'm hard on myself, but at the end of the day we win the basketball game. That's ultimately what it's all about. When we lose and I don't play well and I feel like I could have did one or two more things to help our team win or get over the hump, you're definitely hard on yourself.  That's just me. That's just the make‑up of who I am.”         

After four games of this NBA Finals, hours of talk, and thousands of words, we couldn't have less of an idea of who James is. His demeanor, his play and his confidence all fluctuate by the day.

We'll see which James shows up to Game 5 on Thursday night.

Posted on: June 8, 2011 5:51 pm
Edited on: June 9, 2011 5:57 am
 

NBA Finals: LeBron's teammates step in for him

Posted by Matt Moore

DALLAS -- "Vanishing act." "Checked out." "Wilted." "Struggled."

"Choke job."

Miami players were having none of it on Wednesday at practice as they tried in vain to get the media off its bloodhunt following what many, including myself, would call "the worst game I've ever seen LeBron James play."

James was shut down, shut out, beaten out, beaten down, smothered, covered, grilled and flat-out annihilated against a defense from Dallas that was simply as committed as you can get to shutting down one player. From the man defense attacking his dribble and guiding him into help to the help defense pushing him out to the perimeter and forcing turnovers to the weakside rotations swatting at his dribble, James was simply put in lockdown. But his teammates were emphatic that James is unaffected by his struggles and that if you want to point a finger for his struggles, point it at them.

"I, myself, need some of the blame," Udonis Haslem said Wednesday afternoon. "He's finding guys for open shots. We've got to knock them down. If we knock them down, it's a different series possibly. Some of this criticism has to go to us, not just him. He's a great player. He's getting guys open shots. We've got to make them."

Haslem pointed to one particular shot he had that would have put the Heat up late that he missed baseline. Mike Miller, though, made it clear that the team isn't rattled by another late collapse.

"We're still standing."

Miller was emphatic about defending James' decision-making, calling him "the best player in the world for a reason."

"He sees things better than anyone. If that's what he sees, he's got to make the pass," Miller said.

Miller also wasn't worried about how his superstar would respond in a crucial Game 5 in yet another bounceback opportunity for the Heat. He says they're not surprised at the criticism of James, but the Heat are also not worried about it.

"That's how it always is. You lose, the world's coming to end. You win, you're the greatest. LeBron's fine. He's the best player in the world."

James himself simply chalked it up to being "mental." He said he has to be more aggressive, predictably, and talked about rhythm. He made it clear that if the double comes, he's going to keep sending the ball out to open teammates. That's the play to make, and he says he'll do it.

But is that really what should happen? At some point, James has to make them pay with his athleticism and scoring ability. To do that he's going to have to split the two defenders off the pick and roll. James has been rolling away and then trying to jump-pass, which resulted in a crucial turnover late in Game 4. Mario Chalmers told reporters that on the pick and roll the Heat have to stop "jumping and waiting for someone to pass to."

But lost in all the talk of dramatic ideas like "wilting" and "aggressiveness" was something that Coach Erik Spoelstra quietly slipped into his comments.

"The last thing would be that the ball has to move. And sometimes he can get involved from execution, other guys being aggressive, and he's off the ball and impacting in different ways. So we anticipate it will be different tomorrow night."

That's a very quiet way of indicating that James might not be the primary ball-handler as he was in Game 4 along with Wade. It's a pretty smart concept. They can't double him all the time if he doesn't have the ball all the time. With Wade being a good enough distributor, Chris Bosh passing well, and even Mario Chalmers playing well and making good decisions, that could be a huge adjustment for the Heat. And not just by capitalizing on James' extraordinary gifts off-ball in terms of athleticism and catch-and-shoot, but to avoid a serious problem that's developed for Miami. The clock.

When James runs point, as he often did in the fourth quarter of Game 4, the Mavericks have employed an unusual, if logical, strategy. They're putting a world of pressure on the ball. They have gone so far throughout this series as to toss a full-court press at James. A full-court press. In the NBA Finals. And it's worked. When James does reach half-court with the press broken, it's job done in just etching off a few seconds from the clock, the Mavs are bodying him, just bumping him slightly. Shawn Marion acknowledged that it's an effort the Mavs are deploying on James to get the clock run down. 

"It's not about (bodying him)," Marion said. "It's just about trying to take time off the clock. It's just trying to get a little advantage by getting them down in the clock running their sets." 

The result is the Heat trying to run sets with 14 seconds or less on the clock, sometimes less than 10. That leads to what Mike Miller called "9-1-1 plays," which lead to shot-clock violations and turnovers. Moving LeBron off-ball might improve that considerably.

In the end it will be on James, though. His teammates can defend him. His coaches can make adjustments. He can talk about his defensive efforts and making the right play. But James will have to dictate what direction his legacy goes in this series.



Posted on: June 8, 2011 5:04 am
Edited on: June 8, 2011 6:00 am
 

NBA Finals: Carlisle's tinkering pays dividends



Posted by Matt Moore

Rick Carlisle looked befuddled at a certain notoriously bombastic reporter's question if he had coached "a hell of a game." 

"Who is this guy?" Carlisle asked with a laugh. "Next question."

Truth be told, he would have been right to say he had.  In the NBA Finals, neither team wants to blink first. Both teams want to assert their dominance over their opponent and have things played on their terms. Rick Carlisle talked all week about "playing [their] game." But he was the first to blink, the first to crack, the first to make a substantial adjustment, and doing so might have just saved the Mavericks from the brink of elimination, and allowed them to regain momentum.

Carlisle switched his rotation on Tuesday night in Game 4, inserting J.J. Barea into the starting lineup, shifting DeShawn Stevenson into reserve small forward, removing Peja Stojakovic from the rotations, and going to Stevenson down the stretch instead of Marion. Marion was a huge part of the Mavs' success on both sides of the ball, but had also put in heavy minutes trying to score consistently, make plays, and defend LeBron James full-court. It was a strategy that Rick Carlisle said he had to adjust.

"I knew we had to take Marion's minutes down. He can't play 43 minutes."

Instead of balking or sulking at being removed from the starting lineup, Stevenson said he was more than happy to come in and close the game, helping to shut down his long-time nemesis LeBron James (even if Stevenson is not LeBron's). Marion admitted that he wanted to be in the game to close the Heat out but played the "We got the win" card. Having so many guys willing and able to contribute is a luxury for Carlisle, who used it to make a strategic adjustment.

The Heat never adjusted, didn't know how to adjust, and when what they do didn't work, they just tried doing it more and doing the same things harder. Effort goes a long way but you've got to be smart. And while Carlisle deferred and said that what the Mavericks are doing isn't complex, in reality, it's those adjustments that make the difference. They did in Game 4.

And they might end up being the difference in this series.
Posted on: June 8, 2011 2:10 am
Edited on: June 8, 2011 5:53 am
 

NBA Finals: Are Mavs in the heads of the Heat?



Posted by Matt Moore

DALLAS -- It wasn't supposed to work. They're the less talented team, down 2-1, after losing the first game of the three-game set at home. They're older, wiser, and the other team has all of the superstars save the Big German guy. So all the trash-talking and verbal barbs the Mavericks threw at Miami over the past two days weren't going to work, right?

Right?

For starters, Jason Terry's talk about LeBron James proved accurate. The focus will be on James not producing enough offense, but defensively during the Mavericks' furious fourth-quarter rally, Terry took James to the rack four times. On a key possession he pump-faked and blew right past the former-MVP, having his shot blocked by Joel Anthony, but on the recovery, Tyson Chandler was left wide open for a put-back dunk. In the ensuing timeout, Dywane Wade expressed his frustration, clapping and glaring at his superstar teammate.

DeShawn Stevenson's talk about the Heat "being dramatic" wasn't supposed to change anything. Instead, the Heat complained less to the officials Tuesday night, even as the Mavericks' free throw advantage swelled to 110-89 in a series that's as tight as it can be. The Heat were notably less upset with the officials.

James said after Game 2 that "no one can guard me one-on-one" and that in Game 3 he was playing well defensively. In Game 4, Shawn Marion guarded him one-on-one and JET blew by him. And on Dirk Nowitzki's key final layup, there was James in the corner, watching without helping, as Nowitzki blew by him to ice the game and tie the series.

Neither LeBron James nor Dwyane Wade would take the bait about the comments, with James simply saying JET is a "great player for them."

Maybe it was just an off-night. But with all the intensity on James and Co. from the media, and now the added daggers of the Mavericks through the press, and after their second fourth-quarter collapse in this series, the question has to be asked.

Where is the Heat's mind right now?

Posted on: June 8, 2011 1:58 am
Edited on: June 8, 2011 5:58 am
 

Accused of shrinking, LeBron James disappears

Miami Heat forward LeBron James disappears in Game 4 of the NBA Finals. Posted by Ben Golliver

lebron-james-hide

DALLAS – Shrinking implies attendance. To shrink, one must first show up.

To say that Miami Heat forward LeBron James shrunk in Game 4 of the 2011 NBA Finals would be inaccurate. To say that he was invisible, absent and inconsequential in an 86-83 loss to the Dallas Mavericks would be closer to the truth. To pin the fact that the Finals series now stands at two games apiece on his shoulders is not only fair, it's unavoidable.

After stating Thursday morning that he was “starting to taste” his first NBA title, James -- the NBA’s most dominant force playing in the most important game of his career -- had the worst game of his season and made the smallest offensive impact of his playoff career.

He declared earlier this week that no single Mavericks player -- nor any single player in the league -- could guard him. He promised that he would be in “attack mode.” He scolded a columnist who questioned his late-game performance in Game 3 for focusing too much on the box score. He lauded his own defensive abilities and reminded everyone to check the tape.

And then he came out, played 45 minutes and laid the egg of his life.

James finished with eight points, nine rebounds, seven assists and four turnovers. His eight points marked the first time he has failed to score in double digits in 90 career playoff games. He finished with less than half of his regular season low point total: 17. He shot just 3-for-11 from the field, making just one field goal that wasn’t a dunk.

In the fourth quarter, James scored zero points, and had more turnovers (2) than field goal attempts (1). The last points he scored came with 1:17 left in the third quarter. He didn't take a shot in the game's final two minutes and, on the final possession, the Heat's fate rested in an errant jumpshot by reserve forward Mike Miller

“Definitely didn’t play great offensively,” James said, delivering the understatement of the playoffs. “I got to do a better job of being more assertive offensively, not staying out of rhythm offensively the whole game.”

Content to dribble around the perimeter, hide off the ball and defer to both Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh, plus Miami’s role players, it was a performance unlike any we’ve seen from James this season.

“He struggled,” Heat forward Chris Bosh said. “Point blank, period. He struggled out there.”

Miami Heat coach Erik Spoelstra attempted to fall on the sword, trying to shoulder some of the burden for his massive small forward.

“We’ll have to look at the film,” Spoelstra said. “Obviously we would like to get him involved. He’s a very important piece to what we do. So we’ll work to help make it easier for him next game.”

The performance was so out of character that Spoelstra was asked directly whether there was something wrong with James.

“He’s physically fine,” Spoelstra said.

Rather than serving as reassurance, the words inadvertently hinted at a more serious, problematic explanation. If there’s no physical ailment, then surely the malady must be mental?

To James’ credit, and to the surprise of some whispering reporters, James didn’t duck out of his postgame press conference, showing up to face the music. Once he sat down, looking composed in a green suit, but clearly dejected, reporters openly questioned his confidence level.

“I’m confident with my ability,” James maintained. “It’s about going out there and knocking them down.”

The performance was as confusing as it was shocking, leaving both James and those tasked with stopping him unsure why he performed so far below par. James said it wasn’t because of any new defensive looks that Dallas was throwing at him.

“They haven’t changed their coverages on me,” James said. “Me just being more assertive, that’s what it’s about.”

The Mavericks did switch their starting lineup by inserting J.J. Barea for DeShawn Stevenson, which did impact the players who were guarding James slightly. Stevenson was in the game late, drawing the assignment on James along with his usual matchup: Shawn Marion.

"I don't know,” Stevenson said when asked to explain James’ night. “He's a great player. I don't know why he's struggling.

"That's not him. Cleveland days, he was attacking.”

 Marion, who James said over the weekend couldn’t guard him one-on-one, was happy to claim the credit.

“We did a great job,” Marion said. “I think our defense has been working pretty well. We just have to make him take tough shots. You keep him from getting those transition breaks and breakaways, and having to take tough fadeaways.”

“Phenomenal,” guard Jason Terry said of Marion’s defense. “[James is] having to facilitate a lot of times for his teammates and get them involved. But we’re just trying to get our hands up, distract him a little bit and when he puts his second hand on the ball, we’re trying to be there to distract him.

James would only point specifically to his inability to make better use of his touches in the low post.

“I got the ball in the post a few times, and I [saw] double teams,” James lamented. “I can’t let that stop my aggression when they bring two to the ball. I still got to make plays for my team, but also make plays for myself to keep me in the rhythm of the game.”

If the night left him without explanations, it also left him upset.

James said that he was most angry because it happened in a loss. “That’s all that matters to me," he said. "If I had had eight points and we won the game, I could be satisfied."

As he departed, James offered a promise: “I’ll come back in Game 5 and do the things that need to be done to help our team win.”  

All week, and especially in the aftermath of the Game 3 criticism, those traveling with the Heat have marveled at James’ ability to resist folding under the immense pressure. On Tuesday night, he didn't fold, he burst.

The rest of this Finals series will hinge on whether he can put the pieces back together.


Posted on: June 8, 2011 1:48 am
Edited on: June 8, 2011 2:21 am
 

Was Dirk's Game 4 anywhere near the Flu Game?

Posted by Royce Young



It was an inevitability. As soon as word came out that Dirk Nowitzki was battling a triple-digit fever in Game 4 of the NBA Finals, you knew someone out there was going to connect the dots.

Wait, Dirk's sick in the NBA Finals. And he played well and his team won. Just like Michael Jordan's Flu Game! What a great story!

A "perceptive" reporter caught on and asked Jason Terry if this was Dirk's "Flu Game" and Terry gave just about the most perfect answer.

"A Jordanism, really? I don't know about that."

Yeah, I don't know about that. Let's compare.

Michael Jordan's Flu Game
44 minutes, 13-27 from the field, 2-5 from 3, 38 points, seven rebounds, five assists, three steals

Dirk Nowitzki's Fever Game
39 minutes, 6-19 from the field, 0-2 from 3, 21 points, 11 rebounds, one assist

Yeah, I don't know about that. Actually, I do know about that. Not even close to comparable. Dirk was impressive, no doubt, considering the circumstance. Playing with a bum finger on your off-hand is one thing, but beating the Miami Heat with a fever of 102 is another. That's impressive. That's outstanding.

But Jordan's performance was on another level. It's hard to compare sickness levels here, but visibly, Jordan's illness was a notch above. He had the lasting image of Scottie Pippen carrying him off the floor, the ice pack on his neck on the bench, the obvious exhaustion -- and yet he walked on to the floor and just kept coming and coming and coming.

And one other big, key difference: Jordan's condition was well known prior to the game and it was a question as to if he'd play at all. With Dirk, we only found out at halftime and really judging by the way Dirk was playing and handling himself, you really wouldn't have known. Maybe that speaks a bit to Dirk's toughness, but in terms of story, it didn't drum anything up.

The Flu Game was legendary. It was historic. It's something that's in the pantheon of NBA greatness. It's the type of thing that you'll never, ever, ever, ever forget.

Dirk's Fever Game? It was good, yes. He had two big driving layups late in the game and grabbed a few timely rebounds. But unless you're a Mavs fan, you'll probably forget all about this game in a few years. Jordan, on the other hand, had the huge hanging jumper in the lane and the 3 with the game tied at 85-85 with 30 seconds left as he dragged his near-lifeless body back down the court. It was... unbelievable.

Only two things really link these two games: 1) They were both in the NBA Finals and 2) both guys were sick. Other than that, trying to place Dirk's Game 4 anywhere near Jordan's Game 6 in 1997 is just silly.

But don't ask Scottie Pippen about it. I'm afraid of his answer.
 
 
 
 
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