Friday, June 10, 2011

NBA Finals- Game Five Running Diary

Welcome to the Game Five running diary of one of the most compelling, competitive and dramatic NBA Finals in recent memory. Will LeBron revert back to the MVP caliber LeBron James in the most important game of his career? Will Dirk Nowitzki continue to elevate his play on the biggest stage? Will Dwyane Wade keep playing at the level he did in the 2006 Finals? It’s all answered here!

1st Quarter

Before we get to the game, I have a couple nits to pick with the NBA Finals Intro that ABC runs that for the most part is spectacular. First off, ending the montage with Pre-Hair Loss Ginobili fist pumping isn’t acceptable. I’m not saying this because I’m not a Spurs fan, but you can’t end a montage of great finals moments with the third best player on his respective team. That would be like putting Buffalo Bill last on a montage of the greatest movies of All-Time instead of Hannibal Lector. Second, the montage is missing a three key finals moments:

1: Kevin McHale clotheslining Kurt Rambis in the 1984 Finals.
2: Scottie Pippen helping an ailing Michael Jordan off the court in the flu game in 1997.
3: Mark Madsen Dancing as Shaq rapped during the championship celebration for the 2002 Lakers.

9:45- LeBron takes his first shot of the game… Air balled an awkward lefty floater. Not exactly what myself and other Heat fans were hoping for to start.

8:00- After Dirk knocks down his first jumper, Mike Breen tells us that Dirk has had a lot of Chicken Soup since game four. I’m glad I know that when I have a 102 degree fever I treat it the same way as a 7’0 German super star. Does he have ginger ale or Gatorade? I tend to go with Gatorade. What about crushed up ice? Did he have a sore throat or was it a stomach flu? Mike Breen needs to tell us more.

7:12- After an awkward Shawn Marion lay-up on a fast break, Dallas leads 13-6. Timeout Miami. Is there some type of Reset button I could hit to start this game over? Can Miami get a do-over?

6:14- We get to see Juwan Howard yelling to Shawn Marion after Matrix picked up a foul on LeBron. Juwan Howard is definitely that guy. If I could pick one player mic’d up for the NBA Finals I think I would pick Howard. You know he talks all kinds of trash throughout the whole game.

The Custodian falls to the floor so gracefully
3:46- Quite a sequence for Brian Cardinal. First he gets called for a block, and only fifteen seconds later he hits a three. One of the most interesting things about the NBA Finals so far has been learning that Brian Cardinal’s nickname is The Custodian. I can’t help but wonder why that is his nickname? He looks like he could be a custodian during the summer for the American Airlines Center. Or maybe it’s because he mops the floor with the competition… He cleans up the offensive glass… His go to shot is the sweeping hook. Okay, I’m done.

2:58- Wade goes back to the locker room with an apparent back injury. I seriously doubt it’s a major issue. Let me rephrase, I seriously hope it’s not a major issue.

1:56- Mark Jackson just called Brian Cardinal a winning player. Plus he does the teams’ dishes, laundry and cleans the locker room before he goes home. He’s a jack of all trades.

0:26- Does anyone else hear that? Good God! That’s Juwan Howard’s music. Back to back jumpers for the crafty veteran.

0:00- Mario Chalmers knocks down his second end of the first quarter half court heave in the series. Ever since Derrick Rose missed a big free throw in game five of the Eastern Conference Finals Chalmers has been absolutely tearing it up for Miami. It must be a mental thing for him. Takes him back to his days in Kansas when he was knocking down game tying three’s after Memphis completely choked away a championship.

2nd Quarter

11:35- Off a missed Chris Bosh jumper LeBron snatches the offensive rebound over two Mavericks and lays it back in. I’m not saying LeBron is going to have a break out game because of this, but that sequence was absolutely not occurring in game four.

9:20- Doris Burke tells us that Dwyane Wade is questionable to return with a left hip contusion. I’m pretty sure I played a whole season with one of those. Not too bad. I expect Wade to be in within the quarter.

9:00- Just as I expected, Wade’s back in. Clearly, this proves one thing… we can’t trust Doris Burke. Can ESPN please replace her with Erin Andrews? I don’t care if she doesn’t know the first thing about basketball, because apparently neither does Doris Burke.

7:04- We get to see a close up of Mike Miller who has played inspired ball over the past couple of weeks as well as dealing with his daughter being born with some complications. Understandably, he hasn’t found any time to shave. He has the white man’s Paul Pierce beard. Eddie House checks into the game. Mark Jackson tells us that Eddie House is the type of guy who could shoot getting out of bed. Can we actually rule out that this doesn’t happen?

6:17- Eddie House looks like a crack addict who desperately needs his fix. He’s been in the game for about 45 seconds and hasn’t gotten a shot yet. Wade’s at the free throw line and you can hear Eddie House talking to LeBron in the background. “Come on man! Get me a shot Bron! I need my fix damn it!!!”

5:45- ABC shows a shot of Dwyane Wade wincing. My Dad looks to me and says, “Can’t they get him a shot?” Not too hard to tell this is a guy who has had back surgery.

2:15- Technical foul on Marion after he picks up a foul guarding LeBron in the post. I don’t know what he said, but even as a Heat fan I disagree with the call. I wasn’t alive during the 1980’s but I’ve watched enough games on tape and on YouTube to know that players didn’t get a technical for raising their voice to officials or for looking at each other without a smile on his face. In 1984 McHale did everything short of actually taking Kurt Rambis’ head off his body, a fight ensued, benches cleared and they played on. No one was kicked out. Hell, I don’t think McHale or Rambis even got a technical. Let the players play, and let them maim each other in the playoffs. That’s how it should be.

0:05- Dirk is left completely wide open for a short jumper that puts Dallas up 60-57 at the half.. LeBron has still been quiet based on typical LeBron standards. Wade missed a longer than normal portion of the 1st half, plus he was relatively ineffective after he returned. And Dallas started out hot, prompting Erik Spoelstra to call a time out five minutes into the game. All things considered, I would say Miami is in decent shape.

3rd Quarter

12:00- Wait a second, Mike Miller starts the 2nd half. Wade is back in the locker room. I think we need a Zach Morris TIME OUT!
It was LeBron's time to take
over but he failed to deliver
-Alright, here is the point in the game where “I’ll let Wade do everything” LeBron should turn into “I’ll shoot every damn time if I have to, but we aren’t losing this game” LeBron. It’s that damn simple. With all of the talk about legacy, LeBron needs to step up and show he isn’t just a decoy to Dwyane Wade. He needs to be able to go shot for shot with Nowitzki and prove he can lead this team to a championship. TIME IN!

10:15- Two three’s for Mike Miller, filling in for Dwyane Wade. Despite two half functioning arms and some terrible facial hair, the man can still knock down an open three. Heat only down 2.

7:01- Dirk nails a HIGH arching three at end of shot clock and nearly causes Mike Breen to have an orgasm. That’s the “Heat can’t win shot.” Anyone who has played a video game knows what I’m talking about. The computer will be running no offense whatsoever, then nail a 35 footer as the shot clock expires. From that point you no longer score, they don’t miss, and you end up breaking the controller when you throw it against the wall. Well at least that’s what happens with me.

6:00- As I’m typing in Cardinal for the T Mobile Player of the Game vote, Barea hits a high arching floater off the glass. He’s making me remember why I wasn’t excited when the Heat picked up a 6 years past his prime Mike Bibby.

4:33- Wade comes out of the locker room and re-enters the game for Mike Miller. Its shades of Paul Pierce from 2008 minus the wheel chair. We need that type of performance from Wade here.

3:46- A high school level defensive break down for Miami leads to a beyond wide open Tyson Chandler dunk. Right now you could actually see Miami collectively shitting their pants. A much needed timeout called by Coach Spo.

1:20- Jason Terry hits another jump shot as Dallas goes up by 7 again. Apparently Joakim Noah wasn’t kidding when he said Miami was “Hollywood as Hell” because the Mavericks are shooting like they did against the Lakers tonight.

0:34- The Custodian tries to take another charge, but gets called for the block on Chalmers. He does all the dirty work for Dallas…

0:00- Dallas only leads 84-79 at the end of 3. Miami should be getting killed right now considering Dallas is shooting like they are in a sports movie, Wade only played 4 minutes in the third quarter and LeBron is still playing like it’s the 58th game of the regular season.

4th quarter

11:42- J. Howard delivers a crushing foul to Stevenson. Not that it should’ve been, but I have no idea how the refs didn’t call that a flagrant. Hell, I’m not sure how Juwan Howard wasn’t kicked out of the game. Usually with a foul like that the refs react like the police officers on To Catch A Predator do when the pervert walks out of the house.

11:17- J.J. Barea with an “And One.” I can live with it if Dirk carries the Mavs in the fourth quarter. I could even deal with it if it’s Jason Kidd or Jet, but not this Gnome. He can’t beat Wade and LeBron.

9:35- Goodness gracious! Two spots for the upcoming sci-fi flick Super 8 in one commercial break. These NBA Finals commercials are absolutely ridiculous.

8:09- Barea hits another three. If someone would’ve told me before the Finals started that in Game five J.J. Barea was going to make more big shots than LeBron James I would’ve questioned their sanity.

6:48- I need to flip channels to How I Met Your Mother to take my mind off the fact that Miami isn’t going to win this game because of a guy who I would have an advantage on in the post (I would Dream Shake him so bad!) By the way, I love the remake of “I Want It All” by Queen that the NBA finals is using.

5:55- James to Wade for a fast break lay-up gives LBJ the quietest triple double in NBA Finals history and brings Heat within one.

5:16- Miami takes the lead!!! I never lost faith! Somehow Dallas has given up a lay-up or dunk on at least five straight possession. I don’t have the slightest idea why Dallas isn’t playing zone and forcing LeBron and Wade to be jump shooters.

4:35- WADE FOR 3!!!! 9-0 run for Miami gives them a 99-95 lead.

3:52- Dirk just absolutely lit into Tyson Chandler for not catching his pass out of the double team. I think it’s appropriate/slightly stereotypical to assume he was yelling at him in German since Chandler shook his head and walked away.

3:20- Jet wide open at top of the key for three. “BANG” says Mike Breen. Game tied at 100. 

2:27- Referee Joey Crawford just called LeBron for a questionable charge. This led to my Dad unleashing an absolute tirade on Crawford. He said things that wouldn’t even be allowed in The Hangover Part II. Without question, my Dad would’ve been kicked out of the game, fined and suspended if he was a player.

1:26- That’s what we call a dagger. Jason Kidd wide open for three (becoming a trend). The Mavericks fans are in an absolute frenzy. Dallas leads 105-100.

0:56- Bosh goes to the free throw line, makes the first and misses the second. I have to say I could’ve seen that one coming. I think I saw his bottom lip quivering when he walked to the free throw line.

The Jet took off in Game 5
0:33- Jason Terry just hit a three from San Antonio, with LeBron right in his face. That’s a perfect example of the video game shot. Lights out for Miami. 108-101 Mavericks.

0:25- A rare LeBron James sighting. His first fourth quarter points since early in game 3 come by a lay-up where Tyson Chandler ran away from him like he had a bomb strapped to his chest and contact would detonate it.

Dallas 112, Miami 103… Closing Thoughts:

1: If Dallas shoots this well they can beat anyone, anywhere. Home court advantage in games 6 and 7 won’t mean jack if Jet, Gnome and Kidd make every open or contested three they take.

2: LeBron James isn’t Michael Jordan. Let’s end that debate for LeBron’s sake, and for Jordan’s sake. It’s unfair to both of them.

3: Dwyane Wade isn’t Michael Jordan either. Wade has been without question the best Miami player in the Finals, and potentially the best player not named Dirk in the playoffs. But there is no fricking way Jordan plays only 34 minutes in a game 5 and misses the first 8 minutes of the 3rd quarter. In his 35 NBA Finals games, MJ played under 40 minutes only 3 times:

Game 2 1991: 36 minutes, 36 points, 13 assists, 7 rebounds, 15-18 field goals, Bulls win 107-86
Game 1 1992: 34 minutes, 39 points, 11 assists, Six 3’s, One Shrug, Bulls win 122-89
Game 3 1998: 32 minutes, 24 points, Bulls win 96-54

Also, take a look at the Flu Game from 1997 where the series was tied 2-2 in Utah:
44 minutes, 38 points, 7 rebounds, 5 assists, Bulls wins 90-88.

No more Jordan comparisons are allowed for anyone. A hip contusion wouldn’t even hinder Jordan. If anything he would’ve found Brian Cardinal, dunked on him for causing the injury in the first place, and then unleashed hell on the rest of the Mavericks team.
4: Dirk is one game away from putting himself into the top 20 all-time discussion. He got a lot of help tonight, there is no doubting that. But in the first four games he carried Dallas to two wins.

5: The series isn’t over. Last year the Lakers were down 3-2 heading back to LA and ended up winning the series in a dramatic 7th game. Even though Wade is playing with a hurt hip and LeBron is… well I’m not sure what’s wrong with him, Miami won’t die easy. Or maybe they will.