Dirk giveth, and Dirk taketh away. Game two was won on a driving, game-winning Dirk Nowitski layup. Game Three ended in two point defeat as Dirk’s 17-foot one-foot fade away struck long off the iron. The difference between 1-2 and 2-1 was truly just an inch of air. (Heck, 3-0 or 0-3 isn’t an unreasonable scenario either.)
Storylines, stars and amazing games; you can’t say this series hasn’t been fantastic theatre.
So – will history repeat itself for a 12th consecutive time with the winner of a tie-breaking Game Three grabbing the trophy, or will Dirk and the Mavs mount a comeback of nearly improbable proportions to erase the stinging memory of Dallas’s 2006 Finals loss to these same Heat?
Let’s get to our free Game Four pick…
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Today’s Free NBA Picks:
Miami Heat @ Dallas Mavericks @ -2.5 (Total: 186.5)
Lost in the “LeBron is shrinking from the moment” nonsense is the real magnanimous nature of one of the more accommodating superstars in league memory. LeBron dished out four assists in the fourth quarter of Game Three. The man he is defending in the fourth quarter has made a total of TWO baskets in the last ten games. TWO. Has his personal scoring tally been off the charts in the fourth quarter thus far in the Finals? No. But let’s explore two of the major reasons why.
First, he is being keyed on defensively in a much different fashion. Shawn Marion is quick and long enough to keep LeBron reasonably in front of him in a half court set. They are also funneling him very purposefully towards the outside of the pain where they have some size and shot blocking waiting for him.
More importantly, Dwayne Wade is being “covered” by the thirty-eight year old Jason Kidd. He has the more exploitable matchup; and LeBron, being all we claim we want out superstars to be, has the selflessness and humility to defer to his spectacularly talented teammate in order to give his team the best chance to win.
If that is ‘shrinking’ I wish I could be so small…
Or maybe his back hurts from putting the entire franchise on his back in his virtual one-man decimation of the Chicago Bulls and their befuddled MVP Derrick Rose…
Tonight is a de facto last-stand for the Dallas Mavericks, and you can bet both they and their fans will be at their best for the occasion. Dallas has done a good job defending the Heat, but needs to do a better job corralling Dwayne Wade early in games. If he and James (and Chalmers and Bibby) are going to beat them from the perimeter, so be it, but they cannot allow Wade to get to the rim four or five times as he did in the first quarter Tuesday night. Simply put, the Mavs can’t be forced into playing catch-up all night for a fourth straight game against the most talented team on the planet.
The series has been decided in the little things, and the margin has been just a slim. For the first time in 15 years, two consecutive Finals games were settled by two points or less. I wouldn’t be surprised to see tonight heading down the same path.
The Heat has shot far better than average in their two wins, yet neither win was by any means a blowout. The Heat have played well and squeaked past. That has to be an encouraging rally cry for the Mavs tonight.
I think Miami still wins this series in six, but I like Dallas to grab a hard-fought clutch win tonight behind Dirk and a better team defensive effort on Dwayne Wade.