This wouldn’t have happened in five games had Dwyane Wade not gotten himself out of this severe slump.
Everyone wondered whether he was hurt throughout the game, because he’d turned the ball over nine times, because he was indecisive, because he had missed dunks in each of the two previous games.
But he was basically just in a slump, and he had to shake himself out. In a hurry.
He said it took a couple of baskets, just seeing the ball go through the rim, to get him going at just the right time.
The first started with a play called for him, even though he’d been struggling so badly. So Erik Spoelstra can be credited with starting to get Wade going.
“It’s small things,” Wade said after his press conference and before leaving the United Center for the last time this season. “I’m struggling at that point and coach called a play to give me the ball. That confidence was within me right there.
“Once I was able to hit that one, it was like, ‘OK.’ Then I was able to get the and-one. As a scorer, you see the ball go in the basket, that’s all I need.”
That’s all he needed, indeed. Because he had enough confidence to take a step-back three-pointer a couple possessions later, with the Heat down seven and looking like its late flurry wouldn’t be enough.
He felt a hit from Derrick Rose on his arm before his release, so he had to adjust the shot and hope he heard the whistle. He did both, and as a bonus, the shot went in.
“Oh, I felt it,” Wade said of Rose’s tap. “I had to change my shot a little bit, because he hit my arm. I had to get it up more, I didn’t want it to be short. When I released it, I was like, ‘Man, it’s on line.’ But no question he hit me.”
LeBron James and Chris Bosh did the rest of the work, with LeBron hitting more huge shots in these playoffs, and playing stingy defense against Rose, getting a key steal and getting a block on the game’s final shot attempt.
It was such a blitz by the Heat that both superstars had to watch the final minutes again just to realize what happened. And Wade said he’ll watch the game again,.
“Twice,” he said. “I don’t remember what happened at the end of the game, like all the plays. So I’m gonna watch it on the plane. And it was late, so my kids weren’t able to watch it. So I’ll watch it with them, and that’s it.”
After that, it’s Mavericks film.
It’s amazing how much better both these teams are than the two teams that faced off in 2006. The Mavs are better at every position, it seems, and Jason Terry appears to be a more consistent shooter than he was back then as well.
The Heat has a number of players it can throw at Dirk Nowitzki, including Bosh, Udonis Haslem, LeBron and maybe even Joel Anthony, if he can avoid going for Dirk’s pump fakes.
Too early for a prediction, but just like it was fitting that the Heat faced the Celtics in these playoffs because they were a nemesis, just like it was fitting the Heat faced the Bulls because Chicago was 3-0 against Miami, it’s also fitting that the Heat faces these Mavericks in the Finals, because Miami didn’t beat Dallas this year.
It’s as if the Heat is able to answer every lingering question in these playoffs. The Mavericks are the only Western Conference playoff team the Heat hadn’t beaten this year.
Two teams playing incredible basketball led by their respective stars. Should be a lot of fun.