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NBA Playoffs: The Heat collapse

Jun 3, 2011, 12:18 AM EDT

Kidd over LeBron

After a regular season defined by crunch-time blunders and late collapses, the Heat’s postseason had been defined by gritty closing performances that saw the Heat holding onto close leads or pulling off comebacks in the fourth quarter.

All of that changed during Thursday night’s 95-93 loss, which may end up being Miami’s most important game of the season. With just over seven minutes remaining, Dwyane Wade hit a three right in front of the Mavericks bench to give the Heat a 15-point lead, one of the most comfortable leads the team has had all post-season long.

Then the collapse came. Jason Terry got loose and starting hitting shots and getting to the free throw line, Miami’s defense relaxed and allowed the Mavericks to hit jumpers, and Dirk Nowitzki stepped up to hit the go-ahead three with 26 seconds remaining and a game-winning layup after Mario Chalmers answered Nowitzki’s three with one of his own.

Not only did the Heat do everything wrong; they did what everybody said they would do wrong all year long. They got arrogant and took their eyes off the prize. They got lazy on defense. Most unforgivably, their offense devolved into hero-ball, with James and Wade (mostly James) running down the clock for 20 seconds and firing up a deep, contested jumper instead of trying to run the offense correctly and get the Heat the baskets they needed to hold off the Mavericks’ charge. Overall, the Heat missed 10 of their last 11 shots, which opened the door for the Mavericks to pull off the stunning comeback. If James still doesn’t have his first ring when this series is over, he has only himself and his performance in the final seven minutes of this game to blame.

After the game, Heat coach Erik Spoelstra called the fourth “about as tough of a quarter as you can have,” and that when things started to slide, they “kept on going.” He also called the close to the game “uncharacteristic” for the Heat, which has been true throughout the postseason, but it doesn’t mean they get a do-over on a Finals loss.

James and the Heat worked all post-season long to shake off the image of them as a preening, mentally weak team who couldn’t close out close games and two superstars whose egos would prevent them from playing with each other correctly on offense. After spending the first 16 games and 3.5 quarters of Game 2 shaking that reputation, the Heat earned it right back in seven minutes.

Now, there’s only one way for the team to exonerate itself: win at least one game in Dallas and win the NBA championship. Because if they don’t, this game could haunt them for years to come. After the game, Spoelstra reminded everyone that this is a “long series” and that the Heat will “bounce back.” Spoelstra had better hope his players are up to the task, because if the Heat manage to let a title slip out of their fingers in one of the most dramatic ways possible, it’s going to be a very long summer for one of the most hyped teams in recent memory.

  1. edweird0 - Jun 3, 2011 at 12:34 AM

    “After spending the first 16 games and 3.5 quarters of Game 2 shaking that reputation, the Heat earned it right back in seven minutes.” What a load of crock. One game and everyone jumps back on the Hater bandwagon.

    • passerby23 - Jun 3, 2011 at 2:25 AM

      I agree. People talk about how fickle and crazy fans can get, but writers constantly jump ship. The Heat lost one game. The last possessions in this game were no different than the ones the Heat had against the Bulls and Celtics, only they didn’t make the shots tonight. If Lebron dribbles out the clock and makes a couple of shots, writers would be calling it great clock management, clutch shot making, and spreading the floor nicely. When it doesn’t work, it’s Heat players standing around and not running their offense. Fourth quarter iso is what the Heat do.

    • southbeachtalent - Jun 3, 2011 at 9:24 AM

      Did you expect anything different???

      That’s the story with this team, one loss and the sky is falling. Give me a break, on to game 3.

  2. royalsfaninfargo - Jun 3, 2011 at 12:37 AM

    I am not a fan of the Heat or the Mavs (T-pups are mine, unfortunately), but that was a great game. I hope they are all like that from here on out whoever wins.

    • edweird0 - Jun 3, 2011 at 12:44 AM

      Right there with you. Im a Heat fan but by no means did I ever think this was going to be a 5 game series let alone a sweep. All this infatuation with the Heat by the media just gets in the way of the game. They win one game and everyones on the bandwagon. They lose one everyone jumps off. This is going to be an epic series, I can’t wait for games 6 and 7 back in Miami! Epic series for sure.

    • jmessinger - Jun 3, 2011 at 11:00 AM

      I hope so, too. Partially because a Royals fan in Fargo needs some happiness.

  3. thesaint23 - Jun 3, 2011 at 12:55 AM

    lebum “no ball playing brick laying sob” james froze at the end of the game!

  4. noirad - Jun 3, 2011 at 1:31 AM

    one loss. i dont think this is going to hurt miami. they played horrible d in the final minutes and they know that. they will shut dallas down.

  5. dnbajunkie - Jun 3, 2011 at 1:54 AM

    Ups, the Heat just hit a speed bump. It appears that the Heat forgot that they are playing against a very dangerous team with a very potent offensive fire power unlike the teams they’ve eliminated in the east. This will be a very exciting finals after all.

    • southbeachtalent - Jun 3, 2011 at 9:26 AM

      Agree 100%, this is going to take all the Heat have and then some. They can not under estimate this team.

  6. thekingdave - Jun 3, 2011 at 2:29 AM

    According to sources, Heat “fans”, new to the game of basketball and it’s rules, were confused with the ending of Game 2. Apparently they were under the impression that the home team had another possession if finishing regulation down by 3 pts or less.

  7. edweird0 - Jun 3, 2011 at 2:52 AM

    @thekingdave That has to be the dumbest attempt at making fun of Heats I’ve ever seen here.

  8. edweird0 - Jun 3, 2011 at 2:58 AM

    *Heat Fans

  9. goawayeverybody - Jun 3, 2011 at 3:23 AM

    My intellectual reaction: Wow, the Miami Heat really wilted under the pressure.


  10. thekingdave - Jun 3, 2011 at 5:21 AM


    That’s great, I’m sure David Stern is ecstatic to add new fans such as yourself to the fray this season! Don’t let your spirits fall, in the NBA playoffs all series are a best of 7 format. Let me know if there’s anything else I can do to make your transition as smooth as possible :)!

  11. steelersnlakers - Jun 3, 2011 at 7:44 AM

    At least the next three games are in Dallas. We’ll still have to watch the Heat chew on their mouthpieces between plays (what’s up, do they get hit it the mouth more than other teams?) but at least we won’t have to listen to that annoying Michael Buffer wannabe arena announcer.

  12. hnirobert3 - Jun 3, 2011 at 7:50 AM

    Can’t win ’em all. The Heat lost last night more than the Mavs won it.

    • frobaggins - Jun 3, 2011 at 10:38 AM

      you’re hilarious. you rip on celtics and bulls fans for this very attitude in the previous rounds, but now you’re taking up that position. too funny brah

  13. lucky5934 - Jun 3, 2011 at 8:12 AM

    -Judging by the comments edweird0, KingDave is right on parr with his comment. You are not.

    – I loved the whining LBJ and Wade demonstrate when they have fouls called on them. Wade didn’t use to act like that until this season. I sure hope Wade will not let LBJ continue to rub off on him in a negative way.

    – The heat have to be kicking themselves with all the jumpshots they took last night to close the game. If they drive the lane and pick up fouls, the close out the game. Same thing with the Bulls in the Eastern Conference Finals. Teams that settle for jumpshots, as opposed to trying to pick up fouls via driving towards the basket, are the teams that blow these late leads.

    – Finally, Wade is the best player in the NBA right now. He was amazing last night. Too bad the Heat wouldn’t give him the ball in the last 6 minutes minus the end of the game three point attempt. or else the Heat would be up 2-0.

    • florida727 - Jun 3, 2011 at 9:16 AM

      Agreed. Wade had 36 points with 7+ minutes remaining in the game. How many did he finish with? Yeah. 36. Why not feed the hot hand? Maybe because LeBum only had 20 at that point and figured he needed more if was going to be in the running for Finals MVP. The more Wade takes center stage, the more likely the Heat prevail. The more James controls the game, the more likely the Mavs do.

      • southbeachtalent - Jun 3, 2011 at 9:31 AM

        Wade did have the ball in his hands plenty of times once the Mavs began their run, he was jacking up 3’s (and missing). Your man crush on LeBron is blinding you. BTW I don’t know if you’ve watched much of the play-offs but LeBron has closed out several games including elimination games. That man crush has your vision skewed.

  14. delius1967 - Jun 3, 2011 at 8:31 AM

    I can’t believe how many people are mis-representing this game. It was not dominated by Miami! It was a 2-point game with 10 minutes to go. Miami had a streak, then Dallas had a better one, but it wasn’t like Dallas had spent the whole game getting pummeled. The Mavs had a NINE POINT lead in the first half, fer chrissakes!

    Just look at the box score if you don’t believe me. Tied at the end of the first quarter. Tied at the end of the second. Miami by four at the end of the third. Dallas by two at the end. Yes, there were some wild momentum swings in both directions — it was an exciting game, no doubt. But in no way can this be characterized as Miami dominating the whole game only to let up at the end.

  15. coltsfanindc - Jun 3, 2011 at 8:55 AM

    cant get too high, cant get too low. gotta forget about last night and try to still 1, or even 2 in Dallas. Go Heat!!!!!

    • florida727 - Jun 3, 2011 at 9:18 AM

      Would trying to “still” 1 or 2 in Dallas be anything comparable to STEALING 1 or 2 in Dallas?

      • bcriz - Jun 3, 2011 at 11:05 AM

        Really… this what sports comments has resorted to? Making fun of someones spelllllling? HAHAHAHAHHA…Thats is some funnnnny stuff.

        Please forgve mee iff i speeel someting worng….

        Anyways. Heat fan here for 30 + years…Yes haters, it is possible there were heat fans before James and Bosh came to town…Last nights game is why i love playoff basketball, teams never give up, it was a great game to watch, right when the Mavs went on a lil run in the first half i thought they were gonna run away with it…then the heat came back with theirs…then it was back and forth, then the heat up by 15, my wife said it was time for bed now cause this game was over….But i told her you cannot go to sleep on the Mavs, they are here for a reason. GREAT game, yes as a heat fan this game SUCKED….but was a BIG fan of the game it was a EPIC game…. again Flordia727 i am sorry if i spelt anything wrong, i hope it did not hurt your day.

        All the rest of you….Here’s to game three

      • jwcsecurity - Jun 3, 2011 at 11:55 AM

        bcriz – How can you be a Heat fan for 30 years when the team started in 1988?

  16. lucky5934 - Jun 3, 2011 at 9:48 AM

    Delius, you are right… this was a game of runs. Dallas built that 51-42 lead, but then decided to lollygag around for the rest of the half. Miami made their run. Same in the 4th quarter when the Heat were up early in the 4th quarter, the Heat then went on a 13-2 run to build to a 15 point lead midway in 4th quarter. Their is not many ways to “Mis-Representing” the game at that point. The Mavericks should be given a great deal of credit for using a 22-5 run to win that game. But the Heat also beat themselves with their shot selection and who took the shots.

  17. marcus158 - Jun 3, 2011 at 11:36 AM

    Who wants to bet the Heat blow the Mavs apart in Game 3?

    • myndl52 - Jun 3, 2011 at 2:55 PM

      How much can you afford to lose?

  18. themadfarter - Jun 3, 2011 at 12:15 PM

    bcriz must b a VERY true heat fan considering he was a fan of theirs 7 years PLUS…before they were founded…awesome!!!

  19. themadfarter - Jun 3, 2011 at 12:19 PM

    Heat fan for 30 + years huh? Hahahahaha, this joker must be driving the bandwagon…

  20. martbear - Jun 3, 2011 at 12:21 PM

    Since I can’t reply directly to bcriz’s comment, I’m writing my own

    I’m curious as to how someone can be a fan for 30+ years of a team that was founded in 1989?

    • martbear - Jun 3, 2011 at 12:22 PM

      Drat beaten

  21. bcriz - Jun 3, 2011 at 12:35 PM

    Great come backs everyone, I appologize my spelling and Now my Math sucks, i did not sit down and crunch the numbers…what a joke

  22. bcriz - Jun 3, 2011 at 12:40 PM

    and way to come back with a retarded come back when i was giving lots of credit to the Mavs….you know the team yall are wanting to win since your team is out…

    Mavs are a great team… Heat are a great team that had an EPIC fail. But before yall try to come back with something cause you hate the heat soooo bad, at least make is at least a good come back…Heats fans dont need any come backs….our team is actually still playing basketball right now and not golf.

    Next time i post a comment i will make sure i crunch the numbers….

  23. themadfarter - Jun 3, 2011 at 12:57 PM

    Crunch numbers? Its pretty easy to remember when an entire NBA franchise is formed, especially for true fans. Cmon buddy, give it a rest its quite clear ur another front running moron.

  24. J Red - Jun 4, 2011 at 7:22 AM

    The HEAT got the 3 Top Scorers of the 2010 Cavs, Raptors, and Heat.

    One might be tempted to say that the Heat is under-achieving because they are not winning via blowouts.

    It could be for the Heat: that a loss, simulated or not, will hopefully give some semblance of competition,
    and therewith some credibility to that championship trophy.

    One might root for the Mavs to win it,
    probably hoping that this “short-cutting to glory” by big market teams will be discouraged.

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