NBA Finals Game 2 – Dallas Ties Series at 1
NBA fans, last night was something to behold. Hyperbole’s run rampant in modern day sports reporting, but last night’s comeback was something I have never seen before. It may have been one of the greatest comebacks in NBA history. Not just because of the circumstances, but because of the stage on which it was done. A stage which the Miami Heat have created. Joakim Noah, in his series ending comments, called the Miami Heat “Hollywood as Hell” and it was never more evident than on what should have been a back breaking, possibly series ending 3 pointer by Dwayne Wade with just over 7 minutes remaining.
Seven minutes and change remained and LeBron James came charging over to Wade, who was holding his post-release pose in the air in front of the Dallas Mavericks‘ bench. Soon James was throwing jabs at Wade’s chest in celebration, and the entire Finals spun on the Heat’s preening.
“Upsetting,” the Mavs’ Tyson Chandler said.
“A turning point,” teammate Jason Terry said.
“I don’t think it’s an issue,” LeBron James said.
Dwyane posed, LeBron celebrated and screamed – they started their victory celebration too soon. With 7 minutes to go, the Miami Heat had seemingly insurmountable 88 to 73 lead.
Then the Heat’s defensive intensity, which all game had dominated the flow and pace of the game, began to let up. Offensive possessions became stagnant, and Dirk Nowitzki reminded us why he is one of the most unique superstars this game has ever seen.
Down 88-73, the Mavericks methodically chipped away at the lead and the bravado of the Miami Heat. 4 straight points by Jason Terry, along with a missed 3 from Wade and a missed layup by LeBron James cut the lead to 9 at 88 to 79. A few possessions later, poor defensive rotation by Mario Chalmers led to a wide open 3 by Jason Kidd, which cut the lead down to 6 at 90 to 84.
The Heat offensively had shut down, and defensively were trying to hold on. During this 11-2 run, the Miami Heat isolated James at the top of the key and the offense fell flat. Their was no ball movement, and little player movement. The hottest player on the court, the star on his self made stage just a few minutes earlier, Dwyane Wade, had been taken off the ball. Jason Kidd did an excellent job denying Wade the basketball in the mid-post, which forced James to dribble out several possessions at the top of the key.
A pivotal Chris Bosh turnover with 2:53 left to play opened the door for Dallas, and Rick Carlisle, Dirk Nowitzki, Jason Terry, and Jason Kidd ran right through. A beautifully executed series of possessions on the offensive end by the Mavericks, which included several staggered screens, got the ball into Dirk Nowitzki’s hands to make plays. The first screen allowed Dirk to slip out and find a wide open 17 footer to bring Dallas within 2 at 90 – 88, Miami.
On the other end of the floor, with a little over 2 minutes left the Heat offense continued to run down the shot clock, and end possessions with poor shot attempts. First, a Udonis Haslem jump shot with 2 on the shot clock. Next, after a Jason Kidd turnover, a fade-away 3 pointer as the shot clock reached zero by LeBron James. After Dirk tied the game at 90, a similar fade-away 3 pointer by Dwyane Wade as the shot clock dwindled left the American Airlines Arena in shock.
Dirk dominated the last 2 minutes of play, scoring 9 points to the Heat’s 3. His final drive, with just over 3 seconds remaining, was a thing of beauty. Dirk used his large 7 foot frame to create space, but it was a small lift of his head and hesitation dribble that sent Chris Bosh lunging forward fearing the jumper at the free throw line. One quick step, and a high arcing layup with an injured left hand sent this game back to Dallas tied at 1.
On this stage, the humble superstar delivered the final blow. His celebration, tame compared to that which was seen just 7 minutes earlier, came when the curtains had been drawn.