Sunday, 23 October 2011
THE FINALS FIX
Recapping this years NBA Finals for those lockout blues.
By TIM DAVID HARVEY
GAME 1: MIAMI HEAT 92-84 DALLAS MAVERICKS
Basketball's promised land made good on it's guarantee to expect amazing last night as the Miami Heat and Dallas Mavericks started what looks to be a thrilling end to an incredible season. Still the series isn't over yet even though Miami took control and a one-zip lead. 24 points from the King and a 92-84 win sealed the first NBA Finals win for LeBron James. "Feels good because it's the first game and we played well as a team,'' 'Bron told press postgame,"We've got a lot of work to do. ... That's one in the books. We're excited about this game. Tomorrow we prepare for Game 2, and I see ways we can get better.'' Wade had 22 points, while Dirk Nowitzki had 27, but his Mavericks team had their lowest point output in this years playoffs on a postseason low 37%. Still Miami also looked a little weak offensively. 39 percent shooting being their second-worst number for that category in the playoffs.
After the game Dirk was upbeat with the press and his teams chances saying; "You can't get down with a loss. You've got to come back strong on Thursday. I've said it a couple times in this playoff run, if you're the road team, you're happy with a split. So we've got another opportunity on Thursday to get one. Obviously, we don't want to go home down 0-2.'' As LeBron and Wade closed the game out like a pair of superheroes, nicknames of 'Batman & Robin' began re-surfacing by word of mouth and Tweet. Wade was instrumental also flashing inspiration into his teammates before the tip with cries of, "Don't say, 'I wish I woulda.'" If the Heat continue this passion and play they'll have nothing to regret.
GAME 2: MIAMI HEAT 93-95 DALLAS MAVERICKS
And then it was all tied. The Dallas Mavericks proved it doesn't matter which American Airlines arena they are in as they are heading back home to Dallas with an advantage in this already epic Finals series. Dirk, his bum left hand and the down-and-almost-out Dallas Mavericks rallied from 15 down to beat the Heat 95-93 in Miami. "You can just sense it in us that we weren't going to give up, we were going to be resilient,'' bench heater Jason Terry told press afterwards. "Definitely a huge comeback for us and we never gave up, and that was big,'' Dirk said following his 24 points and last 9 points of the Mavericks through his injury pain. Wade had 36 for Miami while LeBron played the Robin role last night with 20, still without the 'W' it meant little. Dallas where too big for them in the final quarter as they go forth to Texas with a clean slate.
The consistent star Shawn Marion had 20 and said it best post-game, "The game is over when the final buzzer rings.'' Maybe this comment and Mavs win was fuelled by their dislike of Wade and James early celebrations when Dwyane flashed the goose neck on a follow through after a big three. Dallas didn't like this horse-play but the King insists he and his men weren't acting like animals. "There was no celebration at all, I was excited about the fact that he hit a big shot and we went up 15.'' This fun Miami team are just having fun in this entertaining series they don't need Samuel L. Jackson's 'Coach Carter' to teach them a lesson but perhaps they need a new set of X and O's for Game 3. Sunday and Dallas awaits.
GAME 3: DALLAS MAVERICKS 86-88 MIAMI HEAT
After two games there was nothing between them. After three only two points separated them. With the series standing at 1-1, you knew these two tied-together teams where going to suffer a bad break-up to determine which side where to take command of this series. It was Miami however who owned the other American Airlines Arena in Dallas like it was their own, with an emotional final few seconds that broke these Maverick hearts...hard. Thanks to some forward thinking from Bosh's clutch jumper to Haslem's D on Dirk, the Heat burnt Dallas, 88-86 at the buzzer to ring out a 2-1 series lead. D-Wade doubled up with 29 points and 11 rebounds calling the game a "total win" for his team. LeBron also had 17, while an Udonis pestered Nowitzki had 34 for the man-handled Maverick's who went cold to the Heat's fire in the fourth. The Heat have set the tone and temperature with a huge away win in the D that takes away Dallas' home-court advantage. To boot Miami really look to have made their stamp on the series as ever since the playoffs 2-3-2 was introduced in 1985 all the teams who have won Game 3 in the Finals have eventually won the Championship. The odds are stacked in Miami's favour.
Looks like the Heat have already got revenge for Dallas' big win in Miami. With both teams still looking evenly matched and drawing blood however, (see Chris Bosh's eye (he'll be fine by the way)) just like the Lakers/Celtics last year this is already one hell of a series. These competitive, none clear-cut series' make for some great, guessing and none dynasty-routine-formality basketball. Still Miami's Wade knows his pick and prediction for the 'chip; " I believe in this team. If anyone can do it, I believe we can.'' "Emotional game, fought back, and to fall short at the end is tough,'' lamented Dirk Nowitzki who's last second passes and shots where disrupted by a passionately screaming Haslem who is definitely, well and truly back. Miami right now are looking magnificent but still Dallas aren't looking defeated. They just need a little something extra. As Kidd said best; "We have to have somebody step up besides Dirk." This aint child's play. This is the NBA Finals. Chess not checkers. Now we anticipate the Maverick's next move. Check.
GAME 4: DALLAS MAVERICKS 86-83 MIAMI HEAT
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?
GAME 5: DALLAS MAVERICKS 112-103 MIAMI HEAT
Those in South Beach working on printing T-shirts and putting balloons in the Florida American Airlines Arena better stop what they're doing. The Heat are heading back to Miami on the brink of elimination and not on the cusp of a championship as everyone wearing white, except the Dallas Mavericks thought. Winning 112-103 the Dallas Mavs and their deafening arena silenced everyone wearing Miami colours, painting the series with numbers of 3 games to 2. If Game 4 was pivotal, then Game 5 was crucial as it was Dallas who took the lead and control of the series for the first time in the Finals. That very fact could very well be a determining, defining factor in this series. Sure this series is going back to Miami for the final game(s), but the Mavericks have a two game cushion to win the championship and haven't taken advantage of comfort before (see Lakers; Los Angeles). The Mavericks have also shown that home-court advantage isn't much of a factor as they look to finish and cool off the Heat in South Beach.
We said that the Heat's chance was to keep it under 5 games but if this series went to 7 then nobody could close out Dallas. This is because these Maverick's have the play through anything (it aint 'Noringski' it's 'NoQuitzki'), one-of-the-best-to-ever-do-it (championship or not, it's time we all recognised) Dirk Nowitzki and his Game 5 29 points. It's also because Miami don't have 'Mr 4th Quarter', Jason Terry who welcomed Miami to a rain storm in buckets to finish off the game. His 21 points, to go along with his 'partner in pine', super-sub Jose Barea's 17 points showed Miami that the Mavs microwaves had the real heat. With Dallas shooting the three-point lights out they showed that if they shoot like this nobody can beat them, in any period.
It gets worse for Miami as the story coming out of Dallas is not 'who shot J.R.'? But who took LeBron'? His form has been up and down and in and out of the line-up as much as Dwyane Wade who has injured his hip after colliding with Brian Cardinal. Still mark these words and any coming out of Miami. LeBron, Dwyane and the Heat are far from done and this series is far from over. "There's really nothing to celebrate," Dirk told press. Jason Terry and the Mavs shouldn't pop the 'Dallas' on their jersey's yet. An 'American Airlines' jet plane is going to take them to Miami, where it's the Heats court. Standby.
GAME 6: DALLAS MAVERICKS 105-95 MIAMI HEAT
'Dear Dirk', you and Dallas are out 2011 NBA Champion. 'Congrats Mavs'. Your not just the top trends on Twitter, your also starting a new one in this league. Fashioning victory from the basic fabrics of a good all round team game. Now that's the way things should be. Now that's Basketball. It was a tightly crammed 6 games between the East and West's best teams in the NBA but I guess in the end Dallas studied harder for the Finals. Not that Miami's incredible team didn't work hard and play well together but in the end those Mavericks cooled down the Heat in their 'White Hot' American Airlines Arena. Finally exorcising their 2006 demons, the Mavericks avenged that years Finals loss to Wade and the Heat by flipping the script and writing them off, beating them five years later. "I really still can't believe it," the MVP of the Finals; Dirk Nowitzki told press as his 21 points helped his Texan team triumph. Jason Terry had a huge 27 points along with Dirk as the only surviving Maverick from the '06 heartbreak. "We got vindication," Terry remarked proving that revenge is a dish to him on the perimeter, best served with his hot, off the bench, microwave streak shooting. Following their respective performances, Dirk goes down as one of the NBA's best all-time players, now becoming a winner, while Jason will go down in history as a Playoff legend, a-la-Derek Fisher.
This meeting with the NBA's good Ol' friend Larry (O'Brien not Bird, (but Dirk's certainly familiar to the latter also)) marks and inscribes the first-time Dallas have had their names etched on an NBA Championship trophy. It also rings the first championship band for valuable veteran and star-player Jason Kidd, who has been so near but so far before and now has no intentions of retiring his big, amazing, 38 year old contributions. Miami however, have had a magnificent year as the boss of Florida-like Rick Ross-despite critical comments and falling short on their championship promise. In their last stand, LeBron James had 21 points, while Bosh had 19, Mario Chalmers 18 and D-Wade tallied 17 for the winding down East champs and Finals runner up. After his Cleveland chance in 2007, this Finals also registers the second time LeBron James reached the promised land only to break, but still there is no need to worry. Dirk and Dallas have been here before on the losing end, they know all too well what it's like. It just takes time and patience to grow a champion. This is only this new Heat teams first year of conception and they've already become a contender. As Lil' Wayne once said, "don't worry LeBron, get em' next year". This saying from Weezy's 2009 song about Kobe Bryant really has meaning now. Still despite Miami's best efforts it was the Mavericks who really "earned" this one as Heat coach Erik Spoelstra can attest. "We worked so hard and so long for it," Nowitzki added making it clear that he had a whole team full of MVP's, from Chandler to Barea.
The Maverick, Dallas coach Rick Carlisle also called his band of brothers "a true team", adding "This is an old bunch. We don't run fast or jump high. These guys had each other's backs. We played the right way. We trusted the pass. This is a phenomenal thing for the city of Dallas." Now this terrific, Texan town won't just be celebrated for Football. As this basketball team has really tipped their way to the top of this association ever since Mark Cuban came in and took the stetson off the team logo. Now the devout Maverick fan and outrageously dedicated owner can never be doubted for his heart and dedication to the team he supports and owns with everything he has. "I could care less about the Heat," Cuban told press ready to light up his own victory cigar. This year marked an incredible year for NBA Basketball with an incredible bunch of evenly matched teams. From last years champion Los Angeles Lakers to the regular season leading San Antonio Spurs. This was all capped off by a blood, for blood, bucket, for bucket, back-and-forth, evenly matched Finals. If some things went the other way it could have very well have been a Miami hot -streak, leading to a big-three championship parade, but alas as LeBron lamented, "right now isn't the time." Even Dallas coach Rick Carlisle knows how close it was and how competitive his competition was stating; "Their time will come." Still everyone knows that as Carlisle continued; "But now, it's our time". Dallas have set the clock and moved the hands of basketball time to their present direction. You know what time it is. Time to say congratulations to the champs. Well done 'Big D'. Dirk and Dallas have done it. TIM DAVID HARVEY.