Wednesday, 8 June 2011


Game 4 is always a pivotal game in a Finals or Playoff series, whether the games are heading towards a clean sweep or standing at 2-1. A 2-1 lead or trail leads to a crucial fourth game. Now NBA Finals favourites Miami Heat led the Dallas Mavericks two games to one with hopes to keep this series under five games like the rest of their playoffs record. Win and they would have Dallas by the Mavericks and an elimination Game 5. Still Dirk and his boys had other ideas, as they made the tie and this thing a series with a 86-83 win spurred by a 29-1 run in the fourth quarter led by an ailing but never failing Nowitzki who had 10 of his 21 to close out the game and the Heat. "Just battle it out,'' was Dirk's game-plan as he was coming down with injury and flu. "This is the finals. You have to go out there and compete and try your best for your team. So that's what I did," and boy did he, laying up in the clutch and laying down Miami with it all laid out on the floor. Everyone marvelled at Dirk's own 'flu game' (even though it still wasn't as cold as Jordan's). "The average person, you know, has sick days and battling 100-something, it's just tough to get out of bed,'' Tyson Chandler remarked with astonishment. "This guy is playing against the best athletes in the world.''

One of the best athletes in the world was having an unhealthy night however as Miami's LeBron James only managed 8 points, a playoff low that ended a run of 433 consecutive games in double figures. Now that's a lot of regular seasons and deep playoff runs. Despite having 9 rebounds and 7 assists James was his harshest critic giving the press and himself these choice words; "I've got to do a better job of being more assertive offensively.'' Still Wade had 32 and Bosh 24 points. The Heat know now however that the series is wide open. "This series is a jump ball,'' coach Erik Spoelstra of the Heat theorised. "These guys live for these type of moments. It's about execution and disposition in the fourth quarter, being able to close out. We have a golden opportunity in the next game.''

The Heat better make good on their opportunity and strike gold looking for that Larry O'Brien shine as there wasn't many silver linings to take from this game. Still that doesn't mean the clouds have cleared for Dallas, both teams still look like they have the ability to reign supreme. It was a good job the Mavs got this game under their belt as no team has ever come back from a 3-1 deficit. Now with the series level whoever takes the next crucial game will set the tone for the end of the series, putting the other on the elimination ropes with only a game left for the championship after that. It will be huge if the Maverick's do this in Dallas as they have never lead this finals series, still the Miami Heat look to regain the tempo and control of this tight series as the final game/s will be played out in South Beach. Who will win isn't the biggest question, the main one is will this epic go the full seven games? TIM DAVID HARVEY.

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