Premature Celebrations

With 7 minutes and 13 seconds left in the 4th quarter, Dwyane Wade hit a 3-pointer in the corner to put the Heat up 15 points and seemingly put away the Dallas Mavericks not only in game 2, but for the series. The whole series of the Heat getting seemingly every loose ball, the Mavs looking like they just ate buttered popcorn and couldn't hang onto the ball, and just the inability to put the ball in the basket as the Heat made their run. Although, with 7:13 left in the game, Dwyane Wade and LeBron James started prematurely celebrating directly in front of the Mavs bench. Personally, I was furious. I changed the channel for a couple of minutes and snapped my pencil in half out of anger that Dallas wasn't playing up to what their potential during the Finals. The Oklahoma City comeback was in the back of my mind, but it was a distant memory at the time. Against the Thunder, the Mavericks went on a 17-2 run. Back to game 2 of the finals, the fans in Miami have a newfound ritual with their all white seat covers and all white shirts in their white hot whiteout at the American Airlines Arena. Once the fans feel like the dagger has been stabbed through their opponent, and comeback seems impossible, fans throw up their seat covers and their shots almost like a graduation when graduates throw up their cap and gowns in celebration that it is over. The thing is, I should have known better and the fans at American Airlines Arena should know better, because one can never count out the never-give-up Dallas Mavericks. Between the dance and celebration with Wade and James, the Miami fans throwing up their shirts and seat covers, and owner Mark Cuban demanding more energy from his bench, Dallas decided that it was time. The Mavericks went on a 17-2 run to tie up the game, and the Heat fans were stunned, I was stunned, and somewhere Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook were shaking their heads thinking that they had seen this before. The Dallas Mavericks closed out the game with a 22-5 run to beat the Heat in the final seconds of the game. The game was tied 90-90 with 30 seconds left in the game, and the Mavericks put the ball in the hands of their best player. Number 41, the ghost face drillah, the big German, Dirk Nowitzki. After a set-up with a solid pick from center Tyson Chandler, Nowitzki drilled a 3-pointer with 24 seconds left in the game. After Miami's final timeout, Mario Chalmers proceeded to drill a corner 3 off the in-bounds pass from LeBron James after some confusion from the Mavs on defense, especially from Jason Terry who seemingly just forgot Chalmers was on the court and was trying to help Jason Kidd defend Wade. (This was another moment where something else was almost broken) I had more confidence in the Mavericks down the stretch though, because of Dirk Nowitzki. Once again the ball was in his hands with less than 10 seconds in the game and he drove past Dallas native Chris Bosh to put in a lay-up with his left-hand, which turned out to be the winning basket. For those who questioned Nowitzki's status tonight with the torn tendon in his left middle finger...he's fine.

What can't go unnoticed tonight is the play of Shawn Marion, Tyson Chandler, and DeShawn Stevenson. Often known as the forgotten starters, these three players combined for 42 points and 18 rebounds. Marion played huge having 20 points and really picking up the void left from Terry's poor play early in the game. After Brendan Haywood went down with a right hip pointer in I believe early in the 4th quarter, Tyson Chandler played big and improved his effort on the boards with 7 rebounds along with multiple other plays to keep the ball in Dallas' possession that don't show up in the stat book. This all went along with his 13 points and his nightly role as the anchor of this Dallas Mavericks defense. DeShawn Stevenson is in the game for defense, and he is a great defender. I know quite a few people that cringe a little whenever Stevenson throws up a 3 ball, but you forget that, earlier in the year, Stevenson has one of the top 3-point percentages in the league. He was on point tonight showing his 3 goggles three times tonight as he knocked in three timely 3-point shots to lift the Mavericks. (That is almost a tongue twister with as many times I made myself say three there) Anything from Stevenson is beneficial, and his performance tonight was all a fan can ask for as he contributed to the team on the offensive end as well as the defensive end. These key contributions made up for a massive amount of turnovers to save the game, and mount the comeback for the Mavs in a crucial game 2 victory.

Peja Stojakovic struggled tremendously tonight as he only played 5 first half, turnover-laced minutes, before his minutes were taken away in the second half by Brian Cardinal. As previously mentioned, turnovers almost sealed the deal for the Dallas Mavericks tonight. Along with Peja, Jason Terry had a lot of turnovers throughout the game, and had a major mental lapse in giving up the three to Mario Chalmers. J.J. Barea played much better tonight, and while only having 5 points, he played a major role in driving to the basket, giving Kidd some rest, and playing turnover-free basketball.

What does It All Mean?

Heat fans and national media alike were calling this series all but over before game 2 even tipped off. People were talking sweep, but the Dallas Mavericks had a much different idea. Before game 2 Michael Wilbon was in the Dallas Maverick's locker room and said he felt, "a quiet confidence" coming from the Mavericks players. In every playoff series the visiting team looks to take away home court from the home team by accomplishing at least a split in the first two games away from home. After their game one loss where the Mavericks were drastically out rebounded, many thought Dallas would be just out powered in game 2. Not these Mavericks though. We saw before in the Oklahoma City series that you can't count this team out no matter what the deficit. Down 15 points to who Jeff Van Gundy calls the best player in the NBA today, and the rest of the best team that money could buy, the Mavericks were able to come back from behind in dramatic fashion to steal game 2 in Miami to accomplish the split that every road team strives to accomplish. The Finals follow a 2-3-2 format, which means the following 3 games are located at the American Airlines Center in Dallas. Since this format has been effect a 1-1 series has happened 11 times. All 11 times the team that goes on to win game 3 has won the series every time.

Closing Notes

The last time a comeback like this happened in the finals was 2006. The Mavericks were on the wrong end of it, and the Heat went on to win that game, and the next three to take the series and the championship. The first time the Mavericks lost this post season they rattled off 7 wins in a row. These 7 games included a sweep of the back-to-back World Champion Los Angeles Lakers. This post season they have had five 4th quarter comebacks. You just can't count out these Dallas Mavericks. Also, the Heat were forced to close a game in the final seconds. The last few games for the Heat they have closed out a game with two minutes left with an overdose of Wade, Bosh, and James. The Mavericks were able to withstand these blows, and came back with their closer who hit two of the most clutch shots I've ever seen to put this game away. James and Wade, arguably the two best closers in the game, were unable to overcome the closing ability of Dirk Nowitzki. It makes you think back to celebrations. The Mavericks walked off the court un-interested after winning the Western Conference Championship, because they wanted the Larry O'Brien trophy and, as Nowitzki said about the Western Conference Trophy, "We already have one of those, and it didn't turn out too good the last time we got it." The Heat, on the other hand, celebrated like they had won the Larry O'Brien trophy after defeating the Boston Celtics in the Eastern Conference Semifinals. The maturity and drive of this veteran-led Dallas Maverick team is putting on a clinic on how a team should hold themselves throughout a playoff run. The Heat still have a lot to learn. Needless to say I won't be changing the channel from the game ever game, not even for 3 minutes like I did tonight. Now with three games to go, the Mavericks just have to defend their home court to take a strong command, or even win the series in Dallas. Maybe the heat will learn that 7 minutes and 13 seconds is a lot of time left in a game. It is certainly too much time to start dancing in celebration in front of the Maverick's bench.

-Colby

Comments

  1. I can say, I was the one of those people that was prematurely pissed because the Stanley Cup Finals just came off of a great Game 1 and I was thinking that the Heat was going to blow them out after they went up 18. After I saw that 2 J.E.T pulled. I was like, "We got a game." Then Dirk stroke the 3 for the tie. I was like "Now we got game." The last minute of Game 2 is what I wanted for the NBA Finals.

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