Because I had to go and buy League Pass this morning. So y’all better appreciate this shit.
In the end, it was like the previous two games – not that brilliant from a pure basketball standpoint, but drama aplenty. More discussion after the points.
3 Points – Tyson Chandler. The Mavs won this game on the back of their defense, which was superb throughout and made up for some of their cold streaks on the offensive end. I would argue that they effectively won the game with their zone defense in the 4th quarter which frustrated the hell out of the Heat.
However, since I can’t give a scheme 3 points I’m giving it to Chandler, the captain of this Dallas defense.
It’s hard to remember just a year or so ago that the prevailing view of Tyson Chandler was that he was on his way out of the league with his near-constant injuries. Now he’s the starting center for a team in the Finals and one of the best defensive/rebounding big men in the league (13 pts and 16 boards in this game alone).
2 Points – Jason Terry. After being jabbed at by Dirk Nowitzki through the media about his fourth quarter struggles, the Jet stepped up this game big time with the kind of energy boost performance off the bench we’ve come to expect of him. However, he gets the 2 points largely for hitting two clutch free throws with about 40 seconds to go that put the Mavs ahead for the rest of the game.
1 Point – Dirk Nowitzki. Dirk wasn’t his usual self tonight – only 21 points going 6/19 from the field and breaking his streak of 39 consecutive FT makes – but, once again, he came through when it mattered for his team with a driving left handed layup with 14 seconds to go. That gave Dallas a 3 point lead and Miami were never able to fully pull back.
And all that while battling the flu. I know when I have a fever I’m barely able to function. Forget about playing a major basketball game. That was a mad hardcore game by Dirk Diggler.
Dwyane Wade also put in his usual effort (32 points, 6 rebounds and a couple of big 4th quarter blocks) and Mario Chalmers continued his solid Finals, but this was a game the Heat should have won. As Robd pointed out on Twitter – this was the second time this series that the Heat have blown a seemingly easy win in the 4th quarter.
And here’s the thing. I think this was a momentum-changing game for the series. The Mavs will go into Game 5 knowing that they have a chance to go 3-2 up back to Miami with that crazed Dallas crowd (one of the better Finals crowds in recent years) behind them. I don’t see them losing that one.
Then we have Game 6 in Miami. Heat fans haven’t quite figured out yet that they’re supposed to create a home advantage for their team. The Mavs will have the momentum. I think my pre-series prediction of a 4-2 Mavs win might just turn out to be correct.