Friday Morning Sketches: Where Dallas Just Needs One More Win.

ESPN DALLAS: While Nowitzki once again led the way with 29 points, four of his teammates scored in double figures. Jason Terryscored 21 off the bench. Barea frustrated Miami with a series-high 17 points, including eight during a third-quarter barrage. Tyson Chandler and Jason Kidd each scored 13. "Everybody stepped up in a different way," said DeShawn Stevenson, one of the heroes of Tuesday's Game 4 victory. "J.J., Jason Kidd and Jet did an awesome job. It just says a lot about out team. Any given night somebody can do something for us to win, and we need that in the Finals."


PRO BASKETBALL TALK: The numbers for Dallas in this game were absolutely staggering, considering how the first four games of this series had gone offensively against the intelligence and speed of the Miami defense. The Mavs shot over 65 percent from the field in the first half, on their way to an outstanding 56.5 percent for the game. As good as that overall number is, the three-point shooting was even better, and was the area where Dallas was able to do most of its damage. As a team, the Mavs hit 13 of their 19 attempts from beyond the three-point arc, good for a ridiculous 68.4 percent. This comes after Dallas made a combined 27 threes in the first four games of the series, and averaged just 34 percent shooting from downtown on 79 total attempts. The scary thing for the Heat is, there wasn’t necessarily any big adjustment on the Mavericks’ part that Miami can try to counter moving forward. As Jason Terry pointed out afterward, Dallas just hit the open looks that they failed to convert earlier in the series.


HOOPDATA: That's the score of the 24-minute composite representing the last six minutes...of the last four games in the NBA Finals. The equivalent of "one half" of a basketball game, but spread out over THE MOST IMPORTANT MINUTES of four different encounters.


Game Two: Dallas 20, Miami 5

Game Three: Dallas 12, Miami 7

Game Four: Dallas 11, Miami 5

Game Five: Dallas 17, Miami 9

Total: Dallas 60, Miami 26

If one of these teams had won an actual half by a score like that, the world would stand in awe. The leader would be celebrated for its dominance. The loser, humiliated (at least temporarily). Have we ever even seen anything like that in the NBA playoffs in just a normal half? There have surely been blowouts. We've even seen trailing teams take the night off to save themselves for the next game. A 60-26 half? Sixty against what's considered by most accounts to be a great defense? Twenty-six, from what's supposed to be one of the most talented threesomes of scorers every assembled? But, this isn't just a half. This is a composite of the most important minutes. From four games played in a row. Involving the same teams. The same sets of stars and role players. The same coaches. It boggles the mind!


DALLAS MORNING NEWS: Throughout the first four games of the series, neither team scored more than 95 points. Terry declared before Game 4 that the Mavericks would win if they could net 100. Nowitzki credited the jump in scoring to some extra time in the film room. "Really, we kind of been waiting on an offensive night for us that we finally shot the ball well," said Nowitzki, who finished with a game-high 29 points. "We felt like we had opportunities in the first four games, just couldn't knock anything down." Added Nowitzki: "I mean, if we would have struggled shooting the ball like that in the first three series, I don't know if we would have gotten here." Heat power forward Chris Bosh is well-aware of the damage the Dallas offense can do."This team has more offensive firepower than any other team that we've played," Bosh said. "They can't get wide-open shots. They can't get layups. The can't have guys more than Dirk having a good game."


TRUE HOOP: With about 90 seconds left in a two-point game, Jason Kidd caught a beautiful pass from Jason Terry and stroked a 3. Cash. Mavericks by five. Timeout: Miami. The Mavericks then did what anything with a pulse would do: They celebrated. Fists up, pounds, high-fives -- the works. And I'm all for it. Life is short. Declare victory when you can, I say. Just being alive is reason enough to throw a party as far as I'm concerned. Having just performed particularly well at the highest levels of professional sports? So much the better. Kidd knows the work required to get to this place, as a 38-year-old, hanging tough against the next generation. All those offseason hours, all that careful eating, all that learning to hit that shot that eluded him for the first half of his career ... the whole point of all that was to get to a moment like this. Pump your damn fists in the air if you want, right? It was still just a two-possession game. The Mavericks had to keep playing. But of course they were well within their rights to slap hands. Heaven forbid they somehow ended up losing ... well, that would have been because of basketball, right? Made Miami shots and the like, right? Not because of this dead-ball non-play. So, in my mind, the story of celebrating, and Game 5, ends happily and harmlessly. On the other hand ... Back in Game 2 -- maybe you've heard -- Dwyane Wade hit a 3-pointer with 7:14 left in the game that pushed Miami’s lead to 15 points. Wade and LeBron James did a little bit of the kind of celebrating you see routinely through sporting events at every level. Oddly, in that case the perfectly normal celebration, the raised arms etc., were blamed for the Heat's loss. One article after another chastised the Heat players for not knowing better. There was far more talk of that than broken defensive coverages or lackluster execution on offense. More than bad basketball, we had ever more evidence of their bad character, or something.



HEAT INDEX: Before James came into the league and was simply the most-hyped rookie prospect of all time, he repeatedly asserted that the greatest misconception was that he was a scorer, when in reality he drew more joy from setting up his teammates than he did from racking up points. Eight years later, in what he called the most important game of his career, James stayed true to his word and got his team back into the game with the kind of passes we haven't seen from a man LeBron's size since the days of Magic Johnson. In the span of six minutes, Miami put up 15 points to cut the lead to one, and eight of them came from layups set up by James' passing. That wasn't where the story of LeBron's fourth quarter ended, however. As gifted as he is as a passer, and as good as his teammates are, there will always come a point in a big game when James needs to take matters into his own hands and prove why so many people consider him the best player in the world. ................. On Thursday, he failed to do that job. If he fails one more time, his career will reach a new nadir, which didn't seem possible after his inglorious exit from the playoffs last year and the fiasco of a "Decision" that followed it.


HOT HOT HOOPS: Spoelstra can point to a lot as to why the Heat lost this crucial Game 5. Miami did not defend the pick-and-roll well, and Tyson Chandler got to the rim for several dunks. J.J. Barea was a menace for the Heat, creating offense with his penetration and even draining four 3s. But the Heat had fourth-quarter leads in each of these three losses and blew them all. With that being said, Miami stole home-court advantage back in Game 3. All this team has to do is win two home games. If this “band of brothers” can’t do that, they don’t deserve to be champions.


EYE ON BASKETBALL: But what might be of most concern is that, as the series has gone on, things have actually gotten harder for the Heat, and easier for the Mavericks. If Game 5 represented anything, it was the Mavericks' offense finally busting out of the muzzle the Heat's defense had put on it after a playoff run where they had looked nearly unstoppable at times. The first four games were more than a grind, they were a desperate scratch and claw up a sheer cliff. Game 5 was a cannon fire contest and the Heat did not have the guns. As the Mavericks offense broke out, it became about open looks for the Mavericks while the Heat were running head-first into walls. Even as Miami managed to get five players in double figures, along with some bench production, the Mavericks had already gotten out of their corral. And the Heat could not wrangle them again.


RIDICULOUS UPSIDE: Heading into the weekend, the most interesting tidbit involves Jimmer Fredette. Fredette became a near-demigod with his performances as a BYU Cougar and seems intent on continuing with that career path upon his entry into the NBA. The 6-foot-2 guard has all but issued a challenge to two of the  point guard prospects slated by most mock drafts to be selected ahead of him on June 23 by indicating  to the Salt Lake Tribune that he's willing to re-arrange his pre-draft schedule to work out against Connecticut's Kemba Walker and Kentucky's Brandon Knight.





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