Wednesday, June 21, 2006

NBA Finals Recap--Game 6

MAVS/HEAT (Game 6): Heat 95-Mavericks 92

- Can't say it was the prettiest game to cap off this legendary 2006 playoffs season (32 combined turnovers), but still provided some good drama to satiate hoopheads until late October (Well, at least I feel somewhat satiated since I picked the Heat in 6 games, I am sure there are some Mavs' fans who would disagree.) The Mavs came out like gangbusters early and looked determined to take the action to the Heat. But it seemed Wade was just surveying the scene with a cool detachment most of the 1st quarter and not forcing the action even though the Mavs were applying loads of pressure. Wade just started to get in a groove with about 2 minutes left in the 1st quarter and it coincided perfectly with the insertion of Mourning, who cleaned up the Heat's defense, changing their intensity for the rest of the game. They rode this effort to the first championship in franchise history.

- From the start of these playoffs I felt that the Heat secondary options had to bring a consistent effort to provide a pressure release. And they definitely pitched in this series and especially in Game 6. As good as Wade was in this game, Udonis Haslem & Alonzo might have been just as important. Haslem was just superb all-around. He hit huge open jumpers all game and really was a big asset for the Heat vs. the Mavs' zone (Udonis had 17 points on 8/13). Haslem also corraled 10 rebs and 1 of his 4 off. rebs. provided Miami with probably their biggest play of the night: the score was 89-88, Haslem comes flying in to grab a missed 3-point attempt and then powers up a lay-up to push the lead back to 3. Flat-out huge play. On top of his offense, he did another workman-like effort on Dirk. Haslem proved me wrong cause I thought he had no chance of containing Dirk on the perimeter. Posey also helped out Udonis on defense and pitched in with two big baskets late in the 4th: a big 3 & a tough off-balanced runner with the shot clock running down.

-The tri-MVP of this game alongside Udonis & Wade, was Mourning. I think he totally changed the complexion of this game the minute he entered late in the 1st quarter. The Heat defense looked putrid early and was slow to react, and the Mavs were having their way with the Heat. But Zo came in and immediately blocked a shot, and the Heat's defense never looked back the rest of the game--the Mavs only shot 37% overall. The Heat played great defense in the 2nd quarter and were downright stifling in the 3rd, with the exception of a mini-run at the end of the 3rd thanks to Daniels. The Heat were arguably better with Zo on the floor than Shaq in this game, and Zo continued his block party throughout the game with 5 blocks. He also had 8 pts. & 6 boards.

- I think I've already become complacent with Wade's ability. He gets 36 pts., 10 rebs., 5 assts. 4 steals and it does not really phase me, almost like this should be expected. That's a little scary for only a 3rd-year player, where does he have to go from here? It's almost like when Jordan was not voted MVP a couple times because the media thought 30, 5, & 5 was just normal for him and he was somehow coasting. Shaq did not have the greatest game even though the Mavs decided to single-team him a fair amount. He had only 9 pts. on 4/11, although he still shot 60.7% for the entire series and roughly 60% for the entire playoffs.

- If there is one major fault of Dallas, it is that they fall in love with the jumpshot. I think it might have finally caught up with them in this series. There were all these complaints about the Mavs getting shafted on the fouls, but that will happen when you settle for jumpers. The Mavs started off the game aggressive, especially Dirk, and were making the Heat defense look overwhelmed. But after an extremely sharp 1st quarter where they scored 30 points, the Mavs seem to lose their assertiveness during the middle portion of the game. The only time they were getting easy looks was when the Heat were making just careless turnovers, especially a flurry of about 4-5 in a row in the 2nd quarter that led to a 10-0 run for the Mavs.

-The only guy who seemed to step up and decide that the Mavs needed a shot in the arm was Marquis Daniels (12 points). After the Mavs were struggling mightly offensively in the 3rd quarter and the Heat seemed to pulling away, Daniels single-handedly kept the Mavs in the game with some hard-nose plays. Also, Stackhouse added a nice little punch off the bench and made some big plays in the 4th quarter--Jerry had 12 pts. Dirk did have 29 pts. & 15 boards, but he really did not mix up his game enough like he did late in the Phoenix series. After starting off hot, Jason Terry had his own John Starks circa '94 moment by shooting 7/25 overall and an unfortunate 2/11 from 3pt. land, including the final miss to tie. Although, Howard did his usual scrappy defensive work (4 steals & 12 boards), he could not find the range on his shot (5/16 from the floor).

- I think one big key that's being overlooked in this series with all the Wade hubbub, is the play of the Heat defense. After the uneven play in the Bulls series, most people, including me, felt that Miami's defense was severely inadequate to get far in the playoffs. But Riley did something late in that Bulls series to change the focus and the resolve of their defense that slowly improved from each series to the next. They held the Mavs to 42.2% in this series after the Mavs shot a combined 46% for the entirety of their West Conf. playoff run. You have to give them credit for holding 3 of the 4 top Dallas offensive options under 40% from the floor for the series. Terry shot 47.8%, but Dirk (39%), Howard (38.8%), and Stack (35.5%) were well below their normal percentages. Miami also won the board battle 4 out of 6 games after the Mavs had won the board war in every game in the West Conf. playoffs.


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