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NBA Finals, Heat Vs Mavericks: Game Five Thoughts

The Dallas Mavericks defeated the Miami Heat 112-103 to take a 3-2 lead in the NBA finals.

After four grueling defensive games, both teams began to show life on the offensive end of the floor to begin game five. After going scoreless in game four, Kidd had five quick points. The Heat committed four turnovers in the first five minutes which helped the Mavericks ease out to an early lead. Dwyane Wade attacked the basket and got the free throw line six times in the first quarter but appeared to hurt his hip on Cardinal screen late in quarter. He would head to the locker room for some treatment and return later on. The Mavericks were in complete control to begin the game before the end of quarter meltdown began. The meltdown was punctuated with another Chalmers half-court shot to end the first quarter.  That gave Miami a 31-30 lead despite a sizzling start by the Dallas offense.

The offensive uptake continued in the second quarter. The Heat jumped out in front early in the quarter thanks to Chalmers' three point barrage. He hit four threes in the half and finished with 13 points. But the Mavericks' offense did not slow down in the second half. Dallas shot 66% from the field for the half. Nowitzki went 6/9 from the field with 16 points to keep the Mavericks within reach.  A 16-7 run to end the second gave the Mavericks a 60-57 lead to end the half.

Wade did not start the second half. Mike Miller started the half for Wade and hit back to back threes. The Mavericks hot shooting would not cool off and this time it was JJ Barea with eight points in the third. Wade returned to the game at the 4:33 mark and quickly made two great assists and hit a jumper to pull the Heat within five at 82-77.  Chalmers would hit two free throws late and the Mavericks took a five point lead 84-79 into the fourth quarter. The Mavericks would take a lead into the fourth for the first time in this series.

The fourth quarter started with the two teams exchanging baskets before the Mavericks put a couple of baskets together to stretch their lead to 88-81.  They seemed to be in control of the game but had multiple defensive breakdowns which led to easy dunks/layups for the Heat and a 7-0 run. After another breakdown on a Haslem dunk, the Heat led 96-95. But the Mavericks would answer, like they have every time in these playoffs by going on a 17-4 run to close out the game and take a 3-2 series lead.

The Mavericks were finally able to get their offense on track and put on a shooting clinic as they shot 56.5% from the field. They were unconscious behind the arc hitting 13/19 three pointers. Every single Maverick was a factor offensively and aside from Marion all had exceptional shooting performances. Barea was phenomenal, penetrating and, if not finishing, dishing it out for the assist and burying clutch three point shots in the second half. He finished the game 6/11 with four threes, five assists and 17 points. Terry was outstanding as well going 8/12 for 21 points and six impactful assists. He gave an amazing assist to Kidd with 1:25 to play for three that basically sealed the game at 105-100 and then hit the dagger three a few seconds later with James draped all over him to give the Mavericks a seven point cushion with 33 seconds left. 

Nowitzki showed no ill-effects from his sinus infection and put on another Dirk-like performance, finishing with 29 points. He was also able to get to the free throw line ten times. When his shot stopped falling he got to the free throw line which helped him get back on track offensively. Dirk has been Dirk in these playoffs. As expected. But the biggest play of the game came with 2:27 to go. Wade had the ball at the top of the key with Marion guarding him and Nowitzki came over to help double. Wade saw the double coming and immediately turned the corner to attack the basket. Kidd, who was on James, rotated to help clog the lane along with Chandler and Wade passed the ball to James in the corner. As the ball was in the air, Chandler sensed Lebron charging to the basket and set his feet bracing for impact. James collided with Chandler and an offensive foul was rightfully called. This has generated some controversy but Chandler's feet were set and it was the correct call. Chandler has been the difference for this Mavericks' team all season and that play exemplified his impact on this team. And it's plays like that that have the Mavericks one win away from their first championship.

As for the Heat, James' "Now or Never" proclamation was for naught as he had the quietest triple double in NBA history. He finished with 17 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists. Good numbers but he once again failed to leave his imprint on this game. He had two free throw attempts for the game, which is inexcusable. But the Mavericks have to be given credit here. They are limiting his penetration and daring him to beat them with the jumpshot. It's been James' Achilles heal for his career and he hasn't been able to hit them in this series.

The Mavericks are now one win away from an NBA Championship. They lost the 2006 finals on their own floor in six games and now have a chance to win the title on Miami's floor in six games.

Basketball is funny like that.

Game six is Sunday night at 7:00 CT.

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