Close but no cigar. The Dallas Mavericks, fresh off of stealing homecourt advantage from the Heat, lost Game 3 today, 88-86, falling to a 2-1 hole. [firstpara] It's just one game, and a lot can still happen, but history isn't smiling on Dallas' corner.
Since the NBA Finals moved to the 2-3-2 format in 1985, the Game 3 winner has always gone on to win the championship anytime the series has been tied at one game apiece.
Eleven times this has happened, and 11 times the Game 3 winner came out on top.
Will the Mavs be that exception to the rule? It ain't over 'til the fat lady sings, but the Mavs have a serious uphill climb ahead. Let's tune in to Game 4 on June 8, and see what happens.
An answer for every run
The final scores indicate a very close game, but the Mavs were always the ones who were "it" for majority of the game.
Like Game 2, when the Heat were clicking, they weren't just clicking; they were roaring like a furious bull. They built comfortable leads all throughout the game, and had more than enough chances to put this game away for good. Except the Mavs, like they have been doing all Playoffs long, were just too darn resilient.
The Mavs kept coming back, and they kept fighting, and so, was right there to once again steal a game from the mighty Heat. Only they fell short. Kudos to them for their spirit, but it's clear what the series standing is right now: 2-1. Hey fellas, how about you guys make the Heat do the chasing for once?
Wade proving it's still his team
Well, what can we say? Dude was phenomenal again, and was clearly pivotal in the way his Heat team fought back those Dallas rallies. Finishing with 29 points, 11 rebounds, 3 assists, a steal, a block and no turnovers, Wade was aggressive, sharp, and exhibited some of that "I've-been-here-before-I-know-exactly-what-to-do" cockiness to his game tonight. If the Heat's going to go all the way, Wade's going to be the real go-to-guy in this team.
Lebron James, for all his brilliance, looked like he was floating through stretches in the game, and looked unsure with his shot—especially his last three pointer that would have sealed the game. While he did assist on that game winner from Bosh, Lebron lacked alpha-male swagger tonight, especially once the game tightened up in the last crucial minutes.
Could it be the Mavs' defense or could it be that Lebron still ain't clutch?
The night when Dirk didn't
It was another classic performance from the Big German: 34 points, 11 rebounds, and 3 blocks. His trademark one-footed fadeaway was torture for Heat; he was draining threes, getting to the charity stripe, his heart was in it.
What wasn't was his final shot. With Udonis Haslem defending him, and 4 seconds to go, Dirk got a chance to tie the game. Only his shot fell way short. That shot might very well be the most important in his career, but as fate would have it, it missed. If anything though, you can expect Dirk to go all out in the next games, in an attempt not mainly to redeem himself, but simply to win it all. As long as he keeps playing like this, this series is not over.
It's still all about putting the ball through the hoop
The superstars get the attention, what with their shiny statlines and dazzling moves. That attention, on the very court, heightens especially in the closing minutes with defenders collapsing on these seemingly unstoppable forces (i.e. James, Wade and Dirk) to prevent them from scoring.
When that happens, it frees up other players. On the Mavs team, in a possession that could have given the team the lead, Dirk drove to the basket and kicked out to Terry for the corner three. Terry, usually clutch and reliable, clanked the shot--a shot which could have put his team over the top.
On the opposing corner, James got doubled at the top of the key, and passed off to a wide open Bosh in the corner. The difference here: Bosh made the shot. He had been struggling all night long, finishing on 7 out of 18 shooting.
But he made the most vital of them all. And in this game, it still boils down to that.
Mavs were still too prone to turnovers, giving Miami a 10-14 edge in giveaways. If they don't tighten up in securing the ball and making better passes in this game, we're sorry but the series will quickly be over. Of these 14 TO's, one came at the worst time possible. With the Mavs trailing by two, and under a minute remaining, Dirk passed off to Marion after being sealed by his defender. Marion was already diving towards the ring then, and the pass sailed off to the bleachers.
Our advice to the Mavs: take care of the goddarn ball.