The _allas interior _efense: Okay, so the Mavs actually outscored the Heat 40-36 in the paint. I know. But Miami had nine dunks last night. Nine. In a Finals game. I'm pretty sure I've never seen nine dunks by one team in a Finals game before. At least not since the Showtime Lakers of the 1980s...and maybe not even then. Eight of those jams were hammered down by Dwyane Wade (five dunks) and LeBron James (three dunks). It's like they were playing on a Jordan Jammer.
Giving up dunks can be deadly to road teams. They get the crowd and the home team totally pumped. Every throwdown by James and Wade felt like it actually subtracted points from the Mavs' score, NBA Jam-style.
Fortunately for Mark Cuban's remaining sanity, the Heat got caught up in...
Premature celebrations: D-Wade knocked down a cold-blooded triple to give the Heat an 88-73 lead with 7:14 left in the fourth quarter...and LeBron reacted like Pookie had just nailed a buzzer beater in Game 7. Or cured cancer. Or brought about world peace. Or defeated the recently discovered and totally not made up Worms from Hell.
The celebration began in front of the Dallas bench. Not the best location for it.
Said LeBron: "It was no celebration at all. I was excited about the fact [Wade] hit a big shot and we went up 15. We knew we had seven minutes to go still. As far as 'celebrations,' that word has been used with us all year."
After the game, Wade was questioned about it:
"A celebration is confetti. A celebration is champagne bottles."
Yeah. Right. Tell that to the Mavericks.
Said Tyson Chandler: "Hitting shots, posing on us, it's upsetting. I think it angered a lot of us. You see all the celebrations, and they're throwing towels, and you say ... 'Is the game over?'"
This is The Heat and this is what They and The Big Three and mostly LeBron do best, prematurely crowning themselves champions of nothing that actually matters.
So nobody should have been too surprised when Dwyane Wade capped his 3-pointer to give Miami a seemingly insurmountable lead with 7:14 remaining in Game 2 of the NBA Finals with a couple of poses. He preened a little for the crowd, nothing too awful, kind of like what DeShawn Stevenson does.
And then LeBron came over and pushed the celebration over the top by fake punching DWade in the chest like "you the man, we the men, we did it." The move looked choreographed by LeBron's mom it was so cheesy.
And all of this went down right in front of the Mavs' bench as coach Rick Carlisle and his players watched absolutely gutted which turned to looking punching angry which morphed into steely resolve.
All of them had that look.
"We noticed," Mavs big man Tyson Chandler said from the locker room as he iced his weary ankles. "It was definitely frustrating."
So I asked: Did it motivate y'all?
"When you got a guy showboating in front of your bench with seven minutes remaining, you say 'The game is not over. I don't care what they say, the game is not over,'" Chandler said.
And Carlisle made that point to them before sending them back out.
Look, maybe Wade is right. Maybe he and LeBron were doing what players on every team do after big shots. But it's pretty clear they lit a fire under their opponents.
The Miami cHeat: Here's a rundown of Miami's offensive possessions after building that seemingly insurmountable lead:
Wade missed three-pointer (heat check); Mario Chalmers missed three-pointer; LeBron missed layup (he totally left it short and then hacked his own arm to the refs trying to indicate a foul that never happened); Chris Bosh missed 21-footer; LeBron 2-for-2 from the line; LeBron missed 16-footer; Bosh turnover; Udonis Haslem missed 15-footer; LeBron missed three-pointer; Wade offensive rebound; Lebron missed three-pointer; Haslem offensive rebound; Haslem turnover; Wade missed three-pointer; Mario Chalmers made three-pointer (more on this below); Wade missed three-pointer.
What does all this prove?
Well, first of all, players shouldn't get too excited about 15-point leads when there are over seven minutes left to play against an elite and experienced team.
Second, you'd really rather have James and Wade chucking threes -- they were a combined 2-for-14 from downtown -- than dunking the ball.
And finally, I really don't think we should start comparing LeBron (0-for-4 and only 2 points in the fourth quarter) to Michael Jordan. Now or ever. Those comparisons never help. They only hurt.
While the cHeat offense was devolving into (or continuing to be) a lot of clock-eating one-on-one garbage, the Mavs dutifully ran their sets and got open lanes or open looks. And, to their credit, they got hot at the right time. Especially Herr Dirk, who served up a plate of ice cold revenge for the 2006 Finals.
According to ESPN Stats and Information: "Dirk Nowitzki scored the Mavericks' last nine points, going 4-for-5 from the floor, and scored or assisted on 12 of their last 14 points. ... The Mavs shot 54.3 percent (19-for-35) when Nowitzki had a touch on the possession, including 77.8 percent (7-for-9) in the fourth."
Jason Terry's clutch defense: Wha...what was he doing?
Terry hit some big shots during the comeback, but his defensive brain fart could have cost his team the game.
Miami's last possession defense: Don't get me wrong. Dirk made a great move and hit a tough left-handed shot. But the cHeat let him go one-on-one without any help. This is Dirk freaking Nowitzki. And Miami had a foul to give and didn't take it. Whoops.
In its time-out huddle, Dallas coaches expected the Heat to use its one foul to give. In its time-out huddle, Heat coaches talked about the foul to give without Dallas going into the bonus.
As Dirk Nowitzki made his move, Heat coach Ron Rothstein shouted, "Foul! Foul! Foul!"
Chris Bosh didn't foul him. No one did. So with 3.6 seconds left in the game Nowitzki made a nice drive for a lay-in basket that gave Dallas the unlikely win and evened the NBA Finals series at 1-1.
Bosh, asked about it, simply said he made a "mental mistake." A costly mental mistake, to be sure. And an unfortunately strange one for as smart a player as Bosh is and as solid a playoffs as he's had.
Sometimes you get beat by a shot in the NBA. But you shouldn't get beat because you didn't give the foul you were supposed to give.
And sometimes you take a lot of crappy threes in the final seven minutes.
D-Wade's last second flop: Love the delayed grabbing of the eye and reaching out toward the officials. "Why hast thou forsaken me?"
Joel Anthony: Wonder how the Heat lost the rebounding battle 41-30? It starts with the fact that Anthony (1 board in 27 minutes) was outrebounded by J.J. Barea (3 rebounds in 14 minutes). Anthony added zero points to his rebound total, providing what had to be one of the worst games by a starting center in NBA Finals history.
The Mavs' butterfingers: Don't let it be said that Dallas played the perfect game. They gave up 31 points off 21 turnovers. Jason Kidd and Nowitzki combined for 10 of those TOs.
Chris Bosh's tongue: An anonymous commenter left this link. Brain bleach, anybody?
Non-technicals: In Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Finals, Taj Gibson was hit with a quick technical foul for turning away from the officials and screaming "No!" after getting called for a personal. Yet, somehow, D-Wade evades a technical despite jumping around and going off on referee Ken Mauer. Just sayin'.
Chris' NBA Finals Lacktion Report: Peja Stojakovic lost the rock once in 4:57 for a +1, Brendan Haywood hacked one field goal in 8:11 with two fouls and a turnover for a 3:2 Voskuhl Brendan Haywood was hurt and therefore had his lacktion nullified (thanks AK Dave), and Brian Cardinal fouled once in 60 seconds for a +1. Meanwhile, South Beach's starting big man Joel Anthony countered one board in 26:49 with three fouls for a 3:1 Voskuhl!