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Tag:Mike Bibby
Posted on: June 11, 2011 4:23 pm
Edited on: June 11, 2011 9:27 pm
 

NBA Finals: Mavericks' offense taking control



Posted by Matt Moore

They've defended exceptionally well. They've played smart. They've "grinded" as both coaches are so fond of saying. But the question remains as the Dallas Mavericks seemingly took control after Game 5 heading into a potential closeout game for them Sunday in Miami, was their Game 5 offensive explosion a sign of things to come, or simply an outlier?

After all the Mavericks shot a ridiculous 68 percent from 3-point territory in Game 5. They broke out of a tough, defensive series and wound up with a barnburner offense, especially down the stretch. To make matters better, or worse, they were hitting contested 3-pointers with the shot clock winding down. They convereted low percentage shots into high percentage shots. The Heat could have survived Dirk Nowitzki doing that. They can't survive Jason Terry, J.J. Barea, and Jason Kidd doing that. That's a death sentence for the Heat's title hopes. 

After practice Saturday, Heat coach Erik Spoelstra talked about how with all the defensive intensity through the first four games, Game 5 was in part about the defenses reaching their limits and guys finally getting into rhythm. 

"Sometimes you just get into a rhythm where you're figuring the other team out," Spoelstra said.  After Game 5, Spoelstra commented that the Mavericks are a "shot-making team." The question was whether it was inevitable for the Mavericks, who have shot the lights out in the playoffs, to have a high percentage night, or whether it was a drastic outlier against a remarkably solid Heat defense which will probably not buckle the same way again. 

Udonis Haslem said Saturday that the Heat did have to pick their poison to a degree. 

"They made open shots. They made some contested shots. They made three or four shots that were at the end of the shot clock. All you can do is take the ball out of the net and go run your offense. You can't hang your head about it." 

Mike Miller admitted that the Heat would rather the game be a lower-pace, lower-possession "grind" as Spoelstra always terms it. But Miller also said if the Mavs are hitting those shot they have to adjust.

"That's what's scary about their offense. They're capable of hitting 13-14 threes. We've just got to find a way to grind it out all the same."

But while those contested shots seem like impossible daggers to the Heat, the Mavericks feel like they're right within their wheelhouse. Early on in the series Mavericks Coach Rick Carlisle talked more about how the Mavericks "just needed to make more shots." On Saturday, Jason Terry said instead of being impressed with the offensive output in Game 5, the struggles throughout the series had been frustrating as the Mavericks felt they could make them.

Last game we made shots that we knew we would get," Terry said. "That's probably been the most frustrating thing about this entire series is having those opportunities that we normally get and we're just not making the shot."  

Terry did not shy away from a chance to say that trend would continue. "Play the percentages, I know as a scorer, as a shooter, myself if I get those same opportunities I'm going to make shots.  My teammates are going to make shots."

Terry did say that defense had been the backbone of the Mavericks all year, and that if the shots fell, it only makes it "that much sweeter."  

It was exceptionally sweet for the Mavericks in Game 5. How much an outlier performance was it compared to the rest of the series? Effective field goal percentage is just like field goal percentage, only it gives weight to hitting 3-pointers, since technically, that's a field goal and a half in scoring. Here's a look at just how good the Maverick's eFG percentage was in Game 5 compared to the rest of the series, and even their playoff average, along with Miami's defensive percentage allowed. 





So, yeah, that's a pretty solid outlier of a game, even for the Mavericks' hot shooting throughout the playoffs. But then you also recognize that Game 1 and Games 4, Dallas shot considerably worse than even what the Heat allow. And they split those games. Maybe Terry's right. Maybe for all the appearances of the Mavericks being the lesser defensive team coming in, maybe that's more a reflection of how bad the Heat offense is, and it's going to be the defense for Dallas that wins them a title. 

They get their first shot Sunday. But if those shots keep falling, contested or not, it won't matter if it's an outlier or not. That's the position Dallas has put themselves into. A defensive slugfest, a barnburner, a shootout. The Mavericks don't need the perfect gameplan anymore. They just need one good enough to do what they've done three times for a fourth. After that, all anyone will remember is the confetti and the ring.
Posted on: June 11, 2011 3:37 pm
Edited on: June 11, 2011 3:52 pm
 

Biggest difference with LeBron? He's missing now

Posted by Royce Young



MIAMI -- Think back a couple weeks with me. The Heat had just finished the top-seeded Bulls in five games and did it in most dramatic fashion. Miami rose from the ashes in Game 5 to come back from 12 down, led by an incredibly clutch performance from LeBron James.

Then just to cement things a little more, the Heat took Game 1 of the NBA Finals behind more crunch time shot-making from LeBron and Dwyane Wade. Over the course of a couple games, the Heat went from a team most saw as a group without a way to close and win tight games to a dominant team in the clutch.

And as things tend to do in the playoffs, all of that spun around again on its head. After two sub-par fourth quarters, LeBron is now being hammered from every direction. Seriously, Google some of the stories written following those games. I feel like we need a record scratch inserted somewhere between those stories and the ones from this past week.

Rightfully so too. This is LeBron James. The best basketball player on the planet. He's not a role player. He's decidedly not Scottie Pippen, or at least not supposed to be. (He's not Michael Jordan either, but let's not go there today.) He's something bigger, something better. So why isn't he playing like it?

He's admitted multiple times to not being as aggressive as he'd like to be, that he can be better. Why? Because he's LeBron Freaking James. Eight points in a game isn't good enough. One basket in the fourth doesn't cut it. We expect more because we know what LeBron can do. It's almost like we're angry at LeBron because we know he can give more. We know he's better than this. And it's frustrating the hell out of us.

But flash back to Game 5 against the Bulls where LeBron was taking over and closing. At that time, everyone saw the Heat as LeBron's team. Dwyane Wade was struggling -- while somehow escaping the death grip of the media -- so LeBron took over. In that comeback in Chicago, LeBron scored 12 of Miami's 26 in the quarter, including eight of the last 14.

Look, however, where he scored those from. Twenty-seven foot 3-pointer. Twenty-five foot 3-pointer. Twenty-one foot jumpshot. LeBron closed, yeah. But he did it by drilling jumpshots. He took only five shots the entire fourth quarter, all being jumpers. Compare that to Game 5 against Dallas. LeBron took four shots (five if you include the charge that wiped out a basket), with three 3s and a 17-foot jumper. It was the exact same stuff from his heroic Game 5 against Chicago.

The difference? The ones against Dallas didn't go in.

"Shots go in, shots don't go in," LeBron said. "When you have the shot, you take them. Some of the same shots I've taken in the other series, they went in. They're not going in for me right now. That won't deter me from taking that opportunity once I get them again."

He's absolutely right. When a shot goes in, it instantly becomes a good one. That's how basketball works. It almost feels silly to reduce basketball down to something as simple as that when we have all these awesome advanced stats and Synergy and whatever else. But the game is about the ball going through the hoop. It's kind of like in baseball when a guy hits one off the end of the bat and it floats perfectly in between the second baseman and the right fielder. There's no asterisk by the hit in the box score. It goes does just as if he smashed a line drive up the middle.

For example, Jason Terry's dagger 3 against the Heat in Game 5. He was up against the shot clock, covered by LeBron and almost 30 feet from the basket. It was a horrible look. The exact same time of look that Miami clanked a couple times in blowing a 15-point lead in Game 2. But Terry's 3 dropped. And now he's a hero.

Thing is with LeBron too is that he's no longer as bad a jumpshooter as once assumed. He's gone from hitting just 34 percent from 16-23 feet in 2007 to knocking down a solid 45 percent of his shots from that distance this year. He shot 33 percent from 3 which is far from great, but that's also what Kevin Durant shot from deep this season too. Percentages exist for a reason though. You're not going to hit 84 percent from 16-23 feet forever. And LeBron has regressed to the mean. It's natural.

What frustrates people with him taking those shots that in reality are good looks for him is that he's the league's best finisher at the rim. When he has the jumper going, he becomes the most unstoppable offensive player since Shaq in his prime. There's seriously not a thing you can do to stop him. That's what he's not doing enough of. There's no attacking off the pick-and-roll. No hard drives at the rim. It's either a jumper or a pass. When the jumper's falling, it's all good.

I think the question here to ask is, is LeBron really doing anything all that different than he did when we were all crowning him as King Closer? Is he being as equally passive and willing to pick spots to shoot, except this time, he's not making them? He took only four fourth quarter shots in the Game 1 win over the Mavs (2-4). He went just 4-9 from the floor in the fourth quarter and overtime in his 35-point outburst in Game 4 against Chicago. He didn't score in bulk, but everything was timely.

He's moving aside in favor of Wade in big moments, no doubt. We kill him for that but LeBron means it when he says, "I have to do what's best for our team to help put our team in a position to win ballgames."

LeBron is an unselfish, extremely team-oriented player, almost to a fault. And it drives us all nuts. He almost has too much talent to be that unselfish. I remember him saying after the McDonald's All-American game when he was a senior in high school that all he cared about was getting the win. I never knew if I believed him on that or if he was just saying it because it sounded good, but I think he's convinced himself that he's only on the floor to help the team win. Whether that means defending, passing, rebounding -- whatever -- LeBron is ready and willing to play a role.

Which is the problem. He's not a role player. He's the best player in the league. And if Miami is going to win this series, he's got to start acting like it. Or at least knock down a couple jumpers.
Posted on: June 11, 2011 2:50 pm
Edited on: June 11, 2011 2:56 pm
 

Dirk calls Sniffle-gate childish, ignorant

Posted by Matt Moore

This story is beyond idiotic. Wade did make fun of Nowitzki, Wade didn't make fun of Nowitzki, its shelf life has reached absurd levels. But no. Here we are, three days after it happened, still talking about it, still asking reporters about it, still being stunningly daft about what it means in a bigger context. There's no high horse here. Obviously trash talk is a fun concept. But this has just gotten absurd and its things like this which are overshadowing actually good basketball.

With that said, here's your obligatory update to what was said after practice Saturday about Sniffle-gate. Trust me, check our numbers or anyone else's, this is what people want to read about.

Dwyane Wade told reporters Saturday that the entire episode wasn't meant to make fun of Dirk, it started as a legitimate cough, which then turned into he and LeBron James joking about how reporters would blow it up. Which, naturally, the media did.

"I wasn't fake coughing," Wade said. "I actually did cough. And with the cameras being right there, we made a joke out of it because we knew you guys were going to blow it up. You did exactly what we knew."

I'm going to pause here and let everyone get out their "Ha! Yeah, right!" 's  and their "A likely story!"'s. I'm going to let you guffaw and shake your head (or "SMH" if you're the Twittering type). Get it all out of your system. And I'm not saying that because I think Wade's being honest. He could be. He very well could not be. But the one thing he's right about is that we, the media, and oh, yes, you the fans (don't think you're not culpable here) took this ten seconds of interaction and made it into a huge deal. We blew it up, Wade's right about that. Whether he's covering or not, it became a story, during the NBA Finals, one that is rife with quality storylines. This became the story for three days. 

The Mavericks for the most part would not take the bait before practice Saturday, with Shawn Marion saying "I hadn't even heard about it until I saw it on CNN this morning." Jason Terry said he had not seen the video and didn't care about it. Dirk Nowitzki was really the only Maverick to say anything about the whole thing.

"I just thought it was a little childish, a little ignorant," Nowitzki said. "I've been in this league for 13 years.  I've never faked an injury or an illness before.  But it happened.  It's over to me.  It's not going to add anything extra to me.  This is the NBA Finals.  If you need an extra motivation, you have a problem."  

What you have is a situation where what Wade and James did probably irked Nowitzki. It's not that it was that bad or it was anything terrible. It's not what's going to drive Nowitzki Sunday, or any of the Mavericks. It's just another example of the Heat not only knowing how to avoid media scrutiny, but swerving directly onto the tracks, then blaming other people for driving them into the train. The Heat are obviously under more scrutiny than any team in history, but it doesn't change the fact that they do something seemingly every game to keep that white hot spotlight there. Maybe it's about attention. Maybe it's about immaturity. Maybe it's just a series of unfortunate events. But every other superstar in the league manages to avoid getting in trouble 9 out of 10 times, while the Heat bat about .400. And this time, they insulted Nowitzki, intentionally or not. 

So Nowitzki jabbed back, obviously offended on a professional level, but he's not going to let it get to him. If the Mavericks close this thing out in six, it won't be because of Wade and James acting like idiots on camera. It'll be because the Mavericks have proved they're the better team and won four out of six. This Mavericks team is made up of experienced veterans. They're not caught up in trash talk, though they dish a lot of it. They want the title, they want the glory, they want to make up for 2006. This is about legacy, not the sniffles.
Posted on: June 11, 2011 1:52 pm
 

Dwyane Wade injury update: Still playing

Posted by Royce Young

MIAMI -- It's not like this is really news, because we all knew that there was no way Dwyane Wade wasn't going to play in Game 6.

He's playing, so says Erik Spoelstra. And so says Dwyane Wade.

"I'll be totally fine when it comes to tomorrow," Wade said.

Wade didn't go through contact drills, but said it was just to sort of rest. He won't be wearing any extra padding for Game 6 and didn't appear to be extra sore or anything on Saturday. He injured his left hip flexor in a collison with Brian Cardinal in the second quarter of Game 5. Wade exited the game and was listed as questionable, but returned shortly after. However, he didn't start the second half of the game because of tightness in the hip. He eventually came back to the floor and finished with 23 points.

"He'll be ready to go tomorrow," Spoelstra said. As far as how how healthy Wade might be, Spoesltra wouldn't speculate.

"I'm definitely not giving a percentage," he said.

But with Game 6 potentially being an elimination game along with the fact that LeBron James hasn't been all that effective, the Heat have to have Wade on the floor. Even if that means he's not totally healthy. Wade downplays injuries better than any player in the league (he could have a broken vertabrae and he'd say he was fine) but he's likely going to be feeling the injury a bit.

It was the same story with Dirk's finger in Game 2 though. Players are banged up. They've been playing with injuries all season. It's a big deal because this is The Finals and every small thing is important, but Wade is playing in Game 6 and most likely, he'll play well too.
Posted on: June 11, 2011 2:52 am
Edited on: June 11, 2011 10:33 am
 

Carlisle adjusts first to bring Mavs to victory



Posted by Matt Moore


DALLAS -- Never blink first. That's the rule. You're never supposed to let the other guy see you're affected, that there's anything wrong with your plan. Confidence through everything is the way. And in the NBA, you're never supposed to be the coach who makes the first major adjustment to anything. Lineup, scheme, rotation, approach, anything. Because if you do, and you lose, there's no way you can blame the players. The questions will all come back to you and why you "went away from what worked all season" or "got away form what your team did so well." You're supposed to sit idly by and hope that a trend which had not benefitted you somehow begins to. Because the alternative is far scarier, the dreaded "unknown."

Rick Carlisle didn't want to have to make such a jump. He spoke all week about playing "their" game. He repeatedly said the Mavericks just needed to get back to doing what they do best, rebounding and defense. Except that hasn't been the model for the Dallas Mavericks at all in these playoffs and it was his direct move away from from the stubborness that dooms so many coaches that has his team up 3-2 against the mighty Heat.

Carlisle was the first to make a change in his starting rotation. His insertion of J.J. Barea into the starting lineup accomplished two things. It gave the Mavericks an offensive spark-plug to immediately torch the Heat on perimeter. It also allowed DeShawn Stevenson to combo with Shawn Marion, meaning Marion didn't have to play himself into the ground. Bringing a fresh defender to guard LeBron James has had more to do with this series swinging in Dallas' favor than James' effort.

(Psst! Don't tell the rest of the media! I'm supposed to keep you hanging on to every word about LeBron's heart being made of eel skin!)

Carlisle admitted after Game 3 that changes had to be made. The same signs were present for Erik Spoelstra, but instead, he has elected to stick with Mike Bibby and company. The Heat are stubborn, the Mavericks quietly adaptable. And while Carlisle would deny and defer any praise for his strategic adjustments, it has been Carlisle that has led the Mavericks here, to this point.

Never blink. That's the thought process that turns coaching into a game of chicken. Entering into such a game is what causes you to lose in the first place.
Posted on: June 10, 2011 3:07 pm
Edited on: June 10, 2011 3:19 pm
 

End Game Dallas: 5 things the Mavs need to do

Posted by Royce Young



So close to the finish line. Just one little win away from the glory. But everyone knows that finishing a series and closing an opponent is the toughest game to win of all. The other guy is desperate, urgent, frantic, about winning one more game to extend the series.

And that's what the Mavericks are up against heading to a Game 6 in Miami. The Heat are down but not even close to out. They've got two games on their home floor with and a roster that includes Dwyane Wade and LeBron James. Winning won't be easy. Heck, it won't even be hard. It's going to be, well, really, really hard.

If the Mavs are to close things out in Game 6 and force David Stern to hand a championship trophy to Mark Cuban in Miami, I've got five ideas that will help the cause.

1. Start fast. The Mavs will be playing a desperate Miami team for the first time this season. And a wounded dog -- especially a wounded talented dog -- can be a dangerous thing. Not that the Heat have a crowd that you want to take out of the game, but momentum is a real thing, especially in important games like this. The Mavs don't want to give the Heat any sense of confidence or swagger. When the Heat are playing lose and confident, they're a better team.

So for Dallas, starting well is important. Eliminate early momentum and make Game 6 into a second half game.

2. Just be close to start the fourth. Related to point No. 1, but the Mavs focus needs to be just making this a fourth quarter game. As well as the Mavs have played in the fourth and as poorly as the Heat have played in the fourth, it would be natural for Miami to tighten and feel the pressure if it's a one or two possession game with eight minutes left.

A close game in the final 12 minutes favors the Mavs. One, because of Dirk. And two, because unlike the Heat, the Mavs have the confidence and have shown the ability to close.

3. Go ahead and make everything again. Well, this isn't exactly realistic, but if the Mavs can hit 10 or more 3s, they'll win Game 6. They made 13-of-19 in Game 5 and while shooting almost 70 percent from 3 isn't likely, the Mavs have shown that once they get rolling a bit, they're tough to slow down.

And you know that if Dallas starts out the game hitting a couple outside shots, shot clock beater and a few contested 3s, that the Heat will hang their heads a bit and say, "Not again."

4. Play Brian Cardinal. Clearly, he was the missing factor. In games he's appeared, the Mavs are 3-0 in The Finals. Hard to argue with a concrete fact like that.

5. Stay calm. I'm in the camp of thinking veteran experience is a bit overrated in these situations, but the older Mavs aren't about to get too excited about their current situation. They know they're one game away, but they also know the mission isn't accomplished. It's natural to sense the glory and get a bit anxious and try and do too much.

But the Mavs have already closed out three series, one coming on the road in Portland. This isn't a team that panics in any situation -- seriously any situation. It's a tired cliche that you've already heard 200 times in the past five days, but Dallas really does have to just play its game. That's been good enough to win three games against the Heat. If the Mavs can put one more together, it'll get that fourth one.
Posted on: June 10, 2011 2:44 pm
Edited on: June 10, 2011 3:15 pm
 

Survivor Miami: 5 things the Heat have to do

Posted by Royce Young



LeBron James tweeted before Game 5, "Now or never." Well, this time with the Heat backed up to elimination, it's a little more now or never. And if they happen to win Game 6, it'll be now or never again.

Point being, this series isn't over yet. But the Heat have to somehow get right. They've dropped two straight to the Mavs and trail for the first time in this series. Dallas appears to be getting stronger as the Heat seem to be tightening and wearing down. If Miami is to get this to a seventh and deciding game, it's going to have to focus on a lot of stuff, but here are five things that come to mind.

1. Come on, LeBron. He had maybe the quietest triple-double in NBA Finals history. Not many players have had a triple-double in The Finals but LeBron's 17-10-10 wasn't good enough. Why? For starters, because the Heat lost. But just one basket in the fourth quarter and two points isn't good enough. It is for Shawn Marion or even Chris Bosh, but we're talking about the best player in basketball. The two-time MVP. The microscope on him isn't always fair, but it's reality.

The NBA is a game about legacy. Fans love it. Media soak that stuff up. And players think about it. LeBron has been talking about establishing himself as a global brand for a long time. He's pretty much there. But he also wants to be one of the greats. And going 0-2 in Finals appearances isn't a good way to start. Yeah, he's still just 26 and a three-peat could be waiting at any moment for him. But we all live in the present. And for real this time, it's now or never for him.

Until next time, of course.

2. Kill the offensive glass. Miami's offense was good in Game 5, but what separated the Heat in Game 1 was 16 offensive rebounds. And in Game 3, a win, the Heat pulled in nine in the first quarter alone. Offensive rebounding hasn't been part of Miami's strength this season necessarily, but any time you get an offensive rebound obviously it gives you another possession, but it takes an extra one away from the Mavericks. And in close games like these, one or two extra possessions is sometimes the difference between winning and losing.

3. Pray the Mavs don't get hot again. The Mavs shot 56.5 percent from the field in Game 5 and went a ridiculous 13-19 from 3. With the way the Mavs have shot this postseason, the Heat have really been living on the edge in this series. Their defense has been terrific, but at some point, the Maverick shooters were going to have One of Those Games.

Game 5 happened to be it. The Lakers thought that plan wasn't sustainable, but Dallas kept it up for four games. The Thunder did better, but Dallas still knocked down a bunch of shots. And if the Mavs have it in them one more time to hit crazy buzzer-beating 3s and impossible runners, Miami might not survive.

4. Pray Dwyane Wade is healthy. LeBron is certainly capable of carrying the team, because no matter what he's done the past few games, he's still awesome. But take away Wade and now the Mavs can really zero in on LeBron. Every catch, he'll be doubled. Every time he puts it on the floor, the defense will collapse. Wade takes a ton of pressure off LeBron and truthfully, allows him to settle into a distributing role, something he's more than willing to do. (Also known as "shrinking.")

Wade might not be 100 percent, but a 60 percent Wade is better than anything else. Playing with a busted hip in Game 5 he still scored 23 points. The Heat need not just his scoring, but his presence to win.

5. Don't panic. Last season, the Celtics took a 3-2 series lead to Los Angeles, needing one on the road to win the trophy. And the Lakers took both games. Dirk said it after the Game 5 win -- it's as if both teams just protected the home court. The Heat won two, Dallas three. Now the Mavs have to win one on the road to get it done.

For the Heat, it's all about Game 6. Win that one and now you're in control. Now, you've got a Game 7 on your home floor. The Mavs will probably say things like, "This is our Game 7," or "This is a must-win for us," because even though those things aren't true, they know that winning Game 6 will be easier than winning a Game 7 in Miami.

The Heat just have to step back and settle down a bit. They're behind in the series, yes. But they're far from out of it. They have the home floor and they have a terrific team. The closing game is the hardest one to win so the pressure is on the Mavs to get it done. The Heat will be desperate, but now's not the time to freak.
Posted on: June 10, 2011 2:00 am
Edited on: June 10, 2011 9:40 am
 

Dallas offensive machine returns in full force

The Dallas Mavericks offense overwhelmed the Miami Heat in Game 5 of the 2011 NBA Finals. Posted by Ben Golliver.

DALLAS – All that was missing was an Andrew Bynum cheap shot.

Game 5 of the 2011 NBA Finals looked unlike any of the previous four grinding, defense-first meetings between the Dallas Mavericks and the Miami Heat. Instead, the Mavericks got back to the hot-shooting, ball-moving, clutch shot-hitting brand of basketball that got them to the Finals.

Even though the stage here is much better than the Western Conference semifinals and the opponent is much more committed to defense, the Mavericks showed the kind of overwhelming team offense that shoved the Los Angeles Lakers into the offseason. That series announced their arrival as serious championship contenders; Game 5 put them on the doorstep of achieving that goal, one win away from the first title in franchise history.

Thursday morning, Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle said his team couldn’t wait for the opportunity to seize control of the series. “We love pressure,” Carlisle said. “Bring it on.”

All-Star forward Dirk Nowitzki brought it, as always, but so too did the Mavericks guards. Jason Terry, J.J. Barea and Jason Kidd combined for 51 points on 29 shots, shooting a combined 10-for-15 from deep. The Heat shot well offensively – 52.9 percent as a team – but simply couldn’t keep pace.

No team could. Not with Nowitzki leading all scorers with 29 points. Not when the Mavericks put up 112 points after averaging 87.8 points in the first four games. Not on a night like this.

“They don’t happen very often,” Carlisle said. “Last time we had a shooting night like this was Game 4 against the Lakers.”

As in the Western Conference semifinals, the shooting barrage left Dallas’ opponent stunned.

“[Dallas] has more offensive firepower than any other team that we’ve played,” said Heat forward Chris Bosh. “They can’t get wide open shots. They can’t get lay-ups. They can’t have guys more than Dirk having a good game.”

When the Mavericks are clicking on all cylinders, they not only have more offensive firepower than any team the Heat has seen, they have more offensive firepower than the Heat. The contributions came from every direction and there was absolutely no hesitation in the fourth quarter.

Terry delivered his best performance of the series, finishing with 21 points, outscoring the Heat 8-3 by himself in the final 3:23 of the fourth quarter. A deep, deep, deep 3 with less than a minute to play and the shot clock running down served as the dagger.

“If there’s space, I’m going to let it fly,” Terry said. “The clock was winding down. It’s just like being out there on the playground back home in Seattle. Emulating your idols in the Finals situation, game on the line. Raise up, knock it down.”

Barea, who struggled to buy a basket earlier in the series, seemingly couldn’t miss.

“If I hit two shots or something like that, I think I’m feeling it,” Barea said with a broad smile. He hit four of his five 3-pointers, finishing with 17 points in just 25 minutes.

But Kidd was the unlikeliest offensive weapon of all, coming off of a Game 4 win in which he scored zero points and attempted just three shots. An aging point guard who has long been derided for his inability to shoot, Kidd finished with 13 points on six shots, including a huge 3 with 1:25 to play.

“For me, at 38, I’ve always felt that I had to improve my shooting if I want to be on the floor and help my teammates,” Kidd said.

“When you come into this league, you feel that you can win a championship,” said Kidd, who is chasing his first NBA title in a 16-year Hall of Fame career. “You just don’t understand when you’re young the competition and the level that you have to play with and play as a team.”

One thing that Kidd -- and those Mavericks who saw the 2006 Finals slip away -- know all too well is that a series isn’t won until the fourth win is secure. With that in mind, the postgame from the Mavericks -- on the doorstep of knocking off the heavily-favored Heat -- was complete caution. No trash talk. No jubilation.

“The series is not over,” Nowitzki said. “There’s really nothing to celebrate. We’re going in there Sunday swinging, like we did today, from the jump.”

“We’re trying to execute our game plan and see if we have the most points come Sunday,” Kidd said. “We’re not looking to knock no one out.”

Maybe not. But Thursday night’s perimter barrage left the Heat teetering on the precipice of a lost season.

 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com