« Any real reason for concern? | Main | Maddening LeBron narrative »

Different story

That was about as intense an NBA Finals game as you'll see.

Superstars performing (one of them, Chris Bosh, when you least expected it), defenses ratcheted up, the game tied three times in the final 2:30 and a road team coming out victorious.

There were so many reasons the Heat was able to recover and win this game following that crushing Game 2 loss. But the most telling sequence happened, fittingly, at the end.

With the score tied at 84-84, it was Dwyane Wade who was chosen for closing duties. He had been the more effective offensive player throughout the game (his defense and rebounding wasn't too shabby, either), so unlike Game 2 when LeBron James was initiating the offense, Wade started the play.

Wade-Kidd And he finished it. Having hit a three just a couple minutes earlier, Wade had the confidence to pull up over Jason Kidd for a long two that gave Miami the lead.

That said a lot about Wade and his aggressiveness, as well as LeBron's willingness to step aside in the big moment, even in the Finals.

After Dirk Nowitzki tied the game, the Heat lulled itself to sleep and had a 24-second violation. But the next possession, after a Jason Terry miss, the Heat turned that around entirely.

Miami ran a screen-roll with Wade and LeBron, something the team hadn't done all game. The initial option wasn't available because the Mavs bigs were more than willing to help and clog the paint. So Udonis Haslem set a screen to free up Bosh, who hit the game-winning shot on a pass from LeBron.

It was execution at its best, even when the first option wasn't there. It was exactly what the Heat hadn't done in Game 2, and it's what the Heat struggled with midseason when it kept losing close games.

The fact that it was Bosh who hit it after a fairly bad first three quarters only adds to the Heat's confidence level going forward. This moment isn't too big for him, either, regardless of what his stat lines have said.

On the next Mavs possession, the Heat defense that was absent for the final 7:14 on Thursday showed up again. Fittingly, it was Wade who forced Nowitzki into a turnover with a hard double-team as he made his move against Udonis. Dirk, stuck in the air and fearful that Wade would block him if he shot it, threw a ball to the corner intended for Shawn Marion. But Marion was cutting to the basket, giving the Heat the ball.

Of course, Haslem's defense on Dirk in the final four seconds was plenty good enough to force the miss, and the Heat came out with a crucial Game 3 win.

Just those last two minutes told the story of a team that wasn't going to make the same mistakes it did in Game 2.

The rest of the game showed plenty as well, from LeBron attacking the basket to the Heat defense forcing 14 turnovers and Miami scoring 40 points in the paint compared to Dallas' 22.

Wade, though, was the difference maker both with his numbers, his effort and his leadership. He wasn't afraid to tell anyone what he was thinking, and that includes LeBron and Bosh.

"First and foremost, he pushed himself," Bosh said of Wade. "He played spectacular basketball. He was aggressive and took good shots. He set the tone for us.

"When a guy like that is really getting on you and demanding more, that’s what team is all about."

What this game also showed is that the Mavericks are going to fight every step of the way. If the Heat's going to come out victorious in this series, it will take this type of consistent effort from start to finish. If there are anymore lapses like the one that cost Miami Game 2, Dallas is more than ready to pounce and steal this series.


Team Stats

» View more stats



Powered by TypePad