Last night the Mavericks pulled even with the Heat. In what should probably not be surprising at this point because they've done it numerous times, the Mavs came back from a 15 point 4th quarter deficit to stun the Heat at the buzzer. The Heat probably could not have finished the game any worse than they did, from the 11 3-pointers they hoisted in the 4th alone, to the stagnant offense, to the passive defense, to the terrible final sequence that gave the Mavs a two point win. What it also should tell the Thunder fanbase is that no team, no matter how veteran, accomplished, or talented, is immune from the tempting malaise of thinking a game is over before it really is.
MMB tells the story once more through quotes, screen caps, and a little bit of snark. I think Dwyane Wade has taken the title belt off of James Harden for worst acting job, at least for the moment.
A key note made - the Heat shot poorly from the free throw line, and when a team gives away free points, it never bodes well.
Young might wish to have this article back to tweak it a bit, given that Miami's end of game effort kind of undermined his point. Even if he did though, his argument is still valid and even more nuanced, because it goes to show that the most difficult lessons in the NBA are hardest to learn for a reason. It takes a lifetime for a player and team to see an end of game clearly sequence, and even the best, such as Kobe Bryant, still are vulnerable to reversion. It is precarious, and nobody is immune.
It is amazing - if you changed the word "Heat" to "Thunder," you basically have a reenactment of OKC's Game Four collapse, right down to Russell Westbrook trying to unnecessarily save a ball going out of bounds.
Mannix makes a great observation about how the Heat fell apart, and on a larger scale, how many teams fall apart. When a player and a team loses focus, there is a strong propensity to fall back into old/bad habits. The performance moves from trusting their training to trusting their instincts. Instinct is good, and players should not be afraid to follow it, but the problem is that seldom does one player have the ability to see beyond his own field of vision. We who have been following Russell Westbrook understand this tendency implicitly.
More links after the jump.
Hollinger writes that the Heat's hot 3-point shooting regressed back to the mean, and it cost them in the end. All told, they put up 30 3-point shots, and that, as they say, is not winning basketball.
Dwyer astutely notes that the end of this game was not all that different from the first; these two teams are well-matched, and every game should come down to the final few possessions.
Young hones in on the truth in this good piece about the now-infamous moment when Dwyane Wade hit his corner-three to give the Heat a 15 point lead. Writers love narratives because it helps us make sense of what we see, because in truth there is far too much going on at the moment to comprehend how something so good so quickly goes bad.
Just like Jason Kidd, we think that the wheels are going to fall off and he keeps delivering when it matters most. Just like against OKC, he has a match-up advantage almost all the time, and Marion was finally able to run some plays on his own initiative.
This points out that the Heat's collapse was not some moral flaw or anything of the type, but simple hubris. It is the same thing we saw the Thunder numerous times this season. Miami thought they had the game, and they stopped playing.
Wise writes that Dirk scored seven points in the final 57 seconds. In a league of players with souped up engines, it is remarkable that a slow-footed seven foot jump shooter who arguably never actually "runs" can still score points at such a remarkable clip. As The Thunder fans know, he's been doing it all post-season long.
Pelton notes that Miami's offense began to break down in a way that we've also seen from the Thunder - they stopped running their offense early in the shot clock, and as a result, had to fire off bad 3-point shots as the shot clock expired. LeBron James, the most dangerous dribble-drive player in the league, was shooting fade-away contested 3-pointers instead of working in close to the rim to get layups and free throws. On the other end, the Mavs got lay-ups.
A quick note about the Thunder and the draft that is now three weeks away. They brought in a number of players to work out as we try to get a read on the direction the team might go on Draft night.
Rob Mahoney, the NBA writer who shows up just about everywhere, asks a great question of LeBron, and James, to his credit, gives an honest, thoughtful, and accurate answer. Apart from the question itself, it really speaks volumes as to the chasm that separates guys who really study the game from the traditional sports media, who are going to repeat the "Heat celebrated early!" synecdoche ad nauseum over the next three days and completely miss the point.