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NBA Playoffs: Miami gets home-court back with erratic performance

Jun 6, 2011, 12:43 AM EDT

Miami Heat v Dallas Mavericks - Game Three Getty Images

For a little while, it looked like the Miami Heat’s 88-86 win over the Dallas Mavericks to give them a 2-1 lead in the series was going to be a repeat of Dallas’ dramatic Game 2 comeback victory. The Heat came out in attack mode and put the Mavericks on their heels early, attacking the basket with impunity and getting out to early double-digit leads.

Still, Dallas refused to fold, and once again took Miami to the wire thanks to some superlative play from Dirk Nowitzki and some breakdowns by Miami. Miami only made one shot inside of five feet in the last 10 minutes of the game, and didn’t attempt a single free throw.

Meanwhile, Dallas clawed back into the game with some tough, rotating defense, some solid work on the boards, and a steady diet of free throws, as well as some great plays from Nowitzki. Nowitzki scored Dallas’ final 12 points, with many of them coming from the free-throw line after Miami committed needless loose-ball fouls on rebounds under Dallas’ basket when Miami just needed to make the clock into their friend and make Dallas work for every one of their points.

The Heat had a double-digit lead at multiple points during Game 3, and led by seven with six and a half minutes to go. With a minute and a half left, the game was tied. This time, however, the Heat held their ground. After Jason Terry missed an open corner three that could have potentially given the Mavericks a 2-1 series lead, Miami unleashed a Wade-James pick-and-roll that ended with James setting up Chris Bosh with a wide-open midrange jumper behind a Udonis Haslem back-pick. Bosh knocked it down, giving the Heat a two-point lead with 37 seconds left.

After a Nowitzki turnover, a missed “hero three” by James, and a Nowitzki miss on a jumper that was perfectly defended by Udonis Haslem, the game was over and the Heat had a 2-1 lead, taking home-court advantage right back from Dallas.

It wasn’t a perfect performance for the Heat, nor was it a commanding one. They let their offense get stagnant. They gave up leads instead of putting the Mavericks away early. They gave Nowitzki too many easy looks at easy jump-shots, and put the Mavericks on the line far too many times with needless fouls.

Still, it the performance the Heat needed to win, and the kind of performance we should be expecting from this team at this point. Despite the Heat being “Hollywood as Hell” off the court, they sure do love winning ugly on the court, and they did enough to win ugly on Sunday.

It wasn’t about Wade dominating, although he did have a masterpiece of a performance. The game came down to Mario Chalmers‘ four threes, including a half-court buzzer-beater at the end of the first quarter that may have been a backcourt violation.

It was about Udonis Haslem stepping up to set a perfect screen on Dirk on the Heat’s final basket and play perfect defense on him on the game’s final possession. It was about Chris Bosh, who had played 11 consecutive quarters of sub-par basketball and had one working eye, making the biggest shot of his career. It was about LeBron James focusing on passing and playing defense late in the game instead of trying to go for the highlight reel and get it done offensively.

It wasn’t pretty, but by doing the little things right in the waning moments of Game 3, the Heat put themselves two games away from their ultimate goal: holding that championship trophy when the series is over.

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  1. royalsfaninfargo - Jun 6, 2011 at 12:56 AM

    Great game. The worst part about it was the announcing crew. Jackson, JvG, and Breen are pathetic. I cant believe im saying this, but bring back Marv Albert. I had it on mute most of the second half. One last thing, does bugeye scott only become happy and joking when the heat win?

    • edweird0 - Jun 6, 2011 at 1:38 AM

      Yea, they need to bring back Reggie Miller also!

  2. thegame1479 - Jun 6, 2011 at 8:30 AM

    @royalsfaninfargo Don’t know if you know this but….Stuart Scott is going to these games and doing those broadcasts fresh off of Chemotherapy treatments for cancer. A little humanity would be nice.

    ABC’s brodcasts have been as right down the middle as I have seen all year. People must be used to getting everything from Chicago’s perspective with the TNT broadcast. All about what Chicago failed to do….rather than what Miami did do. Listen, did the Heat rub people the wrong way? … Yes. Did Lebron handle things the wrong way with the decision? ….yes. again. Did the Heat come off bad during their Signing Celebration? Absolutely…. But there comes a point during the season or playoffs where objectivity and perspective has to take over…… With the “most” National Media it just has not.

    • royalsfaninfargo - Jun 6, 2011 at 1:04 PM

      I didnt know that. I retract my statement about Scott and apologize.

  3. southbeachtalent - Jun 6, 2011 at 12:21 PM

    “After a Nowitzki turnover, a missed “hero three” by James,”

    So Nowitzki’s turnover was just a turnover while James’ miss was a “hero three”? Nowitzki’s turnover was a huge mistake but he is not LeBron (evil basketball overlord) so it was OK I guess?

    Some objectivity and unbias reporting would be nice….

  4. coltsfanindc - Jun 6, 2011 at 5:49 PM

    some of those fouls weren’t needless, they were nonexistent. felt like they were trying to give Dallas the game!!!

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