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2011 NBA Finals, Game 5: Mavs Vs. Heat Comes To A Head

NBA fans have been treated to what has so far been the most closely contended NBA Finals in recent years. Sandwiched around a fairly easy Lakers 4-1 win over the Magic, LA and Boston have had six and seven game series with a lot of closely contested games, but not a single one of those 13 final scores were as close as the last three games of this series. All three have or essentially have come down to the last shot as time expires.

The series moves to Game 5 now, tied 2-2 and just begging for one of the teams to take control. The favored Heat can take full control of the series with a win, since they will then head back home to Miami needing just one of two home games for their second championship. A Mavericks win would give them an opportunity for their first ever potential title clincher in Miami.

The storylines are numerous and growing in number and significance, but LeBron James has found his way to the center. After an eight-point game in Game 4, and with Dwyane Wade carrying the Heat for most of the series, James faces a test of his greatness, and everyone knows that he knows it. How will he respond?

For the Mavericks, their constant struggle is to find ways to beat the scrambling, athletic Heat defense without committing turnovers - which lead inevitably to Heat transition dunks. They did a better job of that in Game 4, but they also missed numerous open shots, including several late in the fourth quarter that could have iced the game. Dirk Nowitzki is reported to be over his fever, but he'll need a repeat performance from his supporting cast, rather than what they supplied (or didn't supply) in Game 3.

It's at 8:00 CDT in American Airlines Center in Dallas and ABC. It's the last home game of 2010-2011 for the Mavericks. It's the biggest swing game of the series, and it's going to help determine the legacy of four Hall of Famers. Game 5, go Mamricks.

Photographs by jamesbrandon, jdtornow, phlezk, flygraphix, mcdlttx, tomasland, and literalbarrage used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.