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NBA Finals, Game 5: Mavericks Look To Take 3-2 Lead Over Heat

The Dallas Mavericks will play for the final time this season in Dallas tonight as they play host to the Miami Heat in Game 5 of the NBA Finals. The winner, of course, will take momentum with them back to Miami while the loser will face elimination in Game 6.

Dallas rattled off yet another comeback in Game 4, needing to go on a 17-3 run to take the lead late in the game. Game 4, like Games 2 and 3, had the game decided in the last possession. Mike Miller missed a potential game-tying three pointer as time expired, giving the Mavericks an 86-83 win over the Heat. 

The win for the Mavericks was not only necessary, but also quite impressive. Dallas could not afford to go down three games to one to Miami - and they managed to avoid that circumstance despite Dirk Nowitzki having a torn tendon in his finger and a fever of 103. Nowitzki still managed 21 points, despite going 6-19 shooting from the field. The German also added 11 rebounds to account for a double-double.

Dallas' defense will have to be excellent once again if they look to win Game 5. The Mavericks held LeBron James to eight points on 3-11 shooting, easily one of James' worst playoff performances ever in Game 4. 

Dallas themselves shot only 39.7% from the field in the Game 4 win, but Jason Terry expects that to change. Per Jeff Caplan:

Dallas averaged 100.2 points a game during the regular season, but have managed to score more than 86 points in only one of four games, and have shot better than 40 percent once (48.0 percent, Game 2), having twice finished in the 30s. 

"We know we can win any style of game, but we prefer obviously to score 100 points because we know that team over there, that's not the style they want to play," Terry said. "So, if we can get to that in this series I think we can take control and it'll be not as difficult as it has been for us. But, again, those shots that we've been missing, I just don't see us missing those come [Game 5]."     

If the Mavericks do start hitting their shots again, they'll be in excellent shape to win Game 5. Dallas' defense has been stellar, holding the Heat to under 90 points in two of the four games in the NBA Finals so far. 

Tipoff for Game 5 of the NBA Finals is scheduled for 8 p.m. CDT. Televised coverage can be found on ABC.

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