In what has been a series characterized by defense and low-scoring affairs, the Mavs and the Heat finally break free from the chains. Game 5 saw them pour in the shots.
The difference: The Mavs made a little bit more to secure a 3-2 series lead, winning Game 5, 112-103.
Now, the series swings back to Miami’s homecourt for Game 6, Monday.
Does the Heat have enough in them to bounce back, and win the last two games for the trophy? Or will Dirk and the Mavs be too locked in to be stopped now? Let’s all find out, Monday!
It was a game where we saw just how important the supporting cast really is. And in this game, the role players all stepped up in one way or another.
Though the Heat lost, they won’t be able to blame the lack of bench support. Udonis Haslem defended just as zealously as he had all series long, while making open shots all night, contributing 10 over all.
Chalmers was crazy hot, scoring 15 points, although 13 of those came in the first half. Mike Miller was focused too, missing just one of his four three-point attempts. Even Juwan Howard got in on the act, providing 6 points in under 6 minutes of play.
The Mavs however, were that much hotter than the Heat. Jason Terry finished second in scoring to Dirk, with 21 points, hitting big shots in the fourth. Kidd, who had been scoreless in the last game, came out with a flourish, finishing with 13 points, and also, 6 assists and 3 steals. The littlest man in the Finals, Barea torched the Heat for 17 big points too, while Chandler contributed his usual 13 points.
We said it in a previous article: No one wins alone in this stage. And that was most apparent in this game.
There’s skill, and then there’s luck. Tonight, lady luck looked like it was on the Mavs’ side.
The Mavs shot an astounding 68% from three-point range, making 13 out of their 19 attempts. While many of those can be credited to crisp ball movement, we simply can’t overlook the number of bail-out shots that the Mavs still made. We counted three of them.
Barea made one from the top, which looked like he released too early because of the excellent contest by opposing guard Chalmers. Dirk made one too, with the shot clock winding down, and the defender sticking as well as he could to him. Yeah we know it’s Dirk, but it was still kind of lucky.
And the last one was the luckiest, most spirit-breaking of them all: the dagger by Terry. With just a 5-point lead, and about a minute remaining, the Heat defense was able to deny all the options in this critical Mavs possession. Terry had the ball, and with the shot clock about to expire, he had no choice but to just let it fly. It wasn’t an easy shot with Lebron on him, but he made it. And that was the ball game. Luck is part of the game, folks.
Ah, Lebron James. Everyone seems to be blaming him these days for the Heat’s shortcomings. But you can’t deny that the haters do have a case.
For the most part, James was playing his game as a sharp facilitator, an intense defender, and showed his desire as his 10 rebounds would suggest. He finished with a triple double: 17 points, 10 rebounds, and 10 assists. Those numbers don’t mean anything though in a loss, and James knows just as much.
He was good, but not nearly great enough in what was the most important game up to this point. He had four assists in the fourth quarter, but only two points—and those came when the game had already been pretty much decided.
In the closing moments, he let Terry blow by him which led to a free look for Kidd—a look Kidd took advantage of by making the three, giving the Mavs a five-point lead.
Worst of all, he couldn’t make his shots again nor was he aggressive enough in attacking the rim. With the Mavs leading by two in the final two minutes, 102-100, James found himself wide open at the top of the three-point arc. But like his other three three-point shots in the night, he bricked it.
The Heat need Lebron to somehow adopt a killer mindset in the next game, if they are to win, especially with Wade having suffered a hip injury in this game.
A lot of things have been said already about how Dirk has been awesome in these Playoffs. Tonight, he was efficient once again, scoring 29 points, and showed tremendous feel for the game. He attacked when needed, he passed when the double team came, and mostly took advantage of those rare one-on-one situations.
On the down side, Dirk seemingly didn’t have the desire to rebound tonight, giving Miami a couple more possessions. His worst blunder: he botched what should have been an easy pass to Chandler who was already underneath the basket, free as a bird in the later half of the fourth quarter.
The Cardinal Rule
Brian Cardinal, the Wade stopper. Cardinal tried drawing a charge from Wade in the first half, and instead injured him, inadvertent though it may be. This left the Heat without Wade for a significant chunk of the third quarter. Cardinal has made his mark, and, even made a three-pointer! That’s how lucky the Mavs were in this game!