NBA Finals Recap--Game 3
MAVS/HEAT (Game 3): Heat 98-Mavericks 96
- After looking sharp in the first half, the Heat needed a miraculous rally in the last half of the 4th quarter to keep their season alive. The Heat seemed to be in control of the game going into halftime, but just like in Game 2, the Heat seemed to sleepwalk thru the 3rd quarter (the Mavs outscored the Heat 34-16) and it seemed possible that the Heat season was hanging by a thread at the end of the 3rd. It wasn't seemingly until the last possible chance did the Heat recover their early game form, and rally in the last 6 minutes from a double-digit deficit. The Heat were saved by inspired play by Wade, Haslem doing the little things, and key free throws from an unlikely source, Shaq.
- Dwyane Wade pretty much willed the Heat to victory. From the get go, Wade had a steely determination to attack the basket with more vigor in Game 3, and attack it he did. Dallas had been doing a good job of containing Wade's drives since the 2nd quarter of Game 1, but in this game they did not do as good as a job cutting off lanes. Wade was making a particular killing on the baseline all game and realizing the Mavs were hesitant to help off of Shaq too much (Wade got to the line 18 times). And when the Heat needed that extra push in the 4th quarter, Wade would not be denied during the late double-digit rally--Wade ended with 42 points on 14/26 & led the Heat in rebounds with 13. As good as Wade was, the Heat might have not pulled thru if it were not for the underrated play of Udonis Haslem. Haslem might have to be considered the secondary MVP, because he just played a tremendous all-around game doing his usual dirty work. He did another commendable job on Dirk and he was just huge giving the Heat second chances on offense, especially late in the game. Haslem finished with 8 pts., 11 rebs. (8 off.), & 3 steals, including one big steal late in the 4th. After a rough outing in Game 2, Shaq came back with a solid showing in Game 3--16 pts. on 6/9, 11 rebs. & 5 assts. Even though the Mavs continued to double him constantly, Riley moved him around the floor a little better and had him re-post a couple times. Shaq added a surprising twist by going 4/6 from the line, including two big ones late. Shaq continued to move the ball well out of the doubles, but sort of offset that with some sloppy ball-handling--he had 7 TOs. Speaking of turnovers, the Heat once again had serious issues taking care of their off. possessions--20 TOs. I wondered in my Finals preview if this would cost them a game, and it nearly did. They did luck out somewhat with the Mavs committing 16 TOs of their own, who seem to be having turnover problems themselves in this series. The Heat also made up for these botched possessions by grabbing 16 off. boards, and crushing the Mavs on the glass overall--49-34.
- The vaunted Mavs' defense that carried them the last two games was not quite as good. The biggest difference was they could not contain Wade on dribble drives as well as they had been doing the first two games. The Mavs got hurt in the paint by giving up 52 points in there. They were also giving up the baseline much too easily and ended up putting Miami on the line 34 times. Although, I thought they did a good job on defending Shaq once again. Dampier did another good job on Shaq and the doubles with Dirk. Damp was a huge boost on offense once again, particularly in the 3rd. Damp did a great job getting lost while Shaq was helping defensively, and he found the open spot near the rim for either lay-ins/dunks or off. boards (Damp had 5). Damp nearly neutralized Shaq once again with 14 pts. on 6/7, 9 rebs., & 3 steals. Dirk had a pretty good night with 30 pts. & 7 rebs. but we will mostly associate Game 3 & Dirk with the missed free throw at the end. One surprising factoid that might have been slipped thru the cracks, is that Josh Howard scored 21 pts. and the Mavs lost. That is the first time that's happened all year, after going 25-0 when he does score 20 or more. One thing that hurt the Mavs was that Stackhouse could not bring the goods off the bench--he was 1/9, after arguably being the Mavs' MVP for the first two games. Although, Devin Harris still provided a nice change of pace again with 9 pts. & 4 assts. and continued to move his feet on defense.
- The Mavs have to feel pretty good about themselves even though they blew a chance to basically end the series. Miami came out strong and got good contributions from their players, but struggled once again in the 3rd, and had to make a world-class effort to take this crucial game back late to save the season. On one hand the Heat have to feel good their back in this series, but they have to feel a little uneasy that they gave Dallas a pretty good early shot, and they still needed to fight for a 2 point victory at home.