3 TRUTHS – NBA FINALS edition, Game 2: The Takeover

Posted: June 3, 2011 by The Cheap Seat Fan in NBA
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By Matt Whitener for CHEAP.SEATS.PLEASE.

 

Last night, the NBA Finals took on the exact drama that it needed…eventually. The Heat basically dominated three and a half quarters of the game. They played with such as style that it seemed like they were up by a thousand most of the time, even if it really was just something like eight. And that’s where the story of the game takes form: that things were definitely not what they seemed. In the end, the Mavericks showed why they have been able to fight their way to this point. Their vets stepped up (in proper fashion and deference no less) when needed to close out the Heat and take home court advantage from them right before the road takes them back to Dallas, now with a series that sits at even.

Nowitzki turned it on the most at the right time, and KO'd the wobbly Heat with the game's last 9 points.

However, there are both interesting side plots developing along with some major indicators that speak to each team’s strengths and weakness that were showcased in the opening two games. If game 2 was a proper measuring stick of the balancing act of this series, there will be a lot of fireworks on deck down in Texas. For now, let’s get into what was definitely proven to me in Thursday night’s bonanza.

 

TRUTH #1-PROTECT YA NECK: The Heat showed repeatedly last night that they can get out on runs (literally) and put some definite distance between themselves and the Mavs. Half of the game looked like a dunk contest that only LeBron James and Dwyane Wade were invited too. Behind this and basically taking the ball on the other end of the court whenever they wanted for a while (15 Miami steals including seven from LBJ/Wade), they roared out to several big leads.

A failure to close left LeBron and Heat with no answers, and a lost home court advantage as well.

However, these leads never stood up for long, and the Mavericks paced themselves, and continued to chip away at each big moment until, boom, they put themselves in the driver’s seat at the exact right moment to close it out and leave Miami with no time to match them. The Heat can be as dashing and exciting as they want to be, but if they only can do it in shifts, they will not be able to beat a team as solid overall as the Mavs. If anything is proven here today, it’s the number one thing I said here they must avoid to win out in this series back on Tuesday. You have to get them down, and keep them down, and that’s a lot easier said than done, especially when Dirk Nowitzki is in the picture.

 

TRUTH #2-SHAWN MARION IS UNCONSCIOUS: The biggest ex-factor for the Mavericks thus far has been the resurgence of Shawn Marion. He has been the only consistent non-German member wearing blue and without his effort, especially his 20-point, 8 rebound, 3 assist performance last night, the Mavs wouldn’t have been close in any of these games. He has been able to attack the rim and get assert himself in the open court like he’s back in Phoenix again. Most importantly, he’s continues to be a timely rebounder, which is invaluable considering the absence-while-present performance of Tyson Chandler around the rim so far. Also his half court defense of LeBron has been invaluable in keeping him somewhat contained in Game 2. Dirk was the MVP last night for putting the weight of the world on his shoulders in the last two minutes, but for much of the 41 minutes he played last night, no Mav was more important than Marion.

 

TRUTH #3-ACT LIKE HE’S BEEN THERE BEFORE: There is only one player on the Heat that has been a leading man in a championship before, and that’s Dwyane Wade. However, last night his often brash and celebratory actions after nearly each basket made him look like a novice that couldn’t believe what he was pulling off himself. Now I’m not taking this from him: he balled out last night. Plus if he had been given the chance to handle more of the closing act (once again, he was made to play second fiddle in the clutch, get only 2 shots in the last seven minutes), things may have been different. But this is exactly where and why he has step up and claim the team as his own right now.

Wade needs to take on the role of setting the example that Shaq did for him in route to his first championship, immediately.

Anybody that has watched this series should know he’s been the MVP of it thus far. But he has to act like it as well, and most importantly remind them (and maybe himself too) that he has been a Finals MVP that has led an improbable comeback by balancing an incredible level of play with a focused, level-headed approach. He’s got one half of that equation done already, now he to set the tone for the entire team on the other half has well. He can’t play to LeBron James’ tempo or Eric Spolestra’s either.  29-year-old Dwyane Wade better channel his 24-year-old self quickly and be the example the Heat have no choice but to follow behind, or the Mavs have proven they have the steadiness to wait for their opening, take it and take the W as well.

 

Follow me on Twitter for Finals outtakes, strategy and in-game reflections at @CheapSeatFan and @STLSport360. 

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