ESPN called it when they said Dallas’s supporting cast wouldn’t miss shots for long. Even Earvin’s ol’ stammering self saw it coming and predicted a comfortable lead. Nevertheless, I still thought Game 5 would be a race to 90 given the series’s penchant for producing offensive struggles. Rick Carlisle and his crew evidently had other plans evidenced by their unusually hot start. The squad dropped 60 by the half and the game’s pace let the audience know they were in for a shoot out.
I’m actually happy the Mavs switched things up despite my stance on the franchise,. They’re not a full court squad but they needed to boost their tempo against Miami’s defense. Dirk Nowitzki’s 29 points on 50% shooting helped lead the charge. More importantly, Carlisle’s decision to move J.J. Barea to the starting lineup once more kept Miami on their heels more so than Game 4. The boy is 6’0″ on a high chair yet continued to drive, dish and hit a string of crucial threes. He’s got a dash of Jekyll and Hyde in his game. A string of missed opportunities stymies his feel for the game but he’ll create momentum-shifting plays when he’s focused.
Dallas’s overall great performance, aside from a shaky stretch in the fourth, doesn’t stop with Puerto Rico’s finest. The Jet bka Flea’s favorite God son also continued his solid shooting while Miami couldn’t keep up. 21 points off of 8-12 shooting and 3-5 from three is as efficient as it gets for Terry and his game-sealing 3 late in the fourth took all the air out of the Heat’s lungs. The 305 guys, speaking of lungs, looked a bit winded when their two possession lead whittled away in the fourth. The Mavericks’ poise made their brief advantage a formality and notched their commanding 3-2 lead with a 112-103 win.
I can’t talk about Game 5 without addressing the elephant in the room. NorBel’s nervousness in the moment shined through at the American Airlines Center and on TV’s nationwide. You could tell he wanted to rectify his poor performance in Game 4 but it appeared evident he tried too hard to regain his form. James’s Houdini act in the 4th will go down as another blotch on his polarizing career thus far if Dallas messes around and wins. The Mavs’s ball denial had much to do with his disappearance but he passed up scoring opportunities and kept looking to pass first. You wouldn’t think he had a triple double going by how he played. The feat doesn’t mean much when his bricks from the perimeter, inability to get to the line and unforced errors contributed against his team’s cause.
Wade’s first quarter injury also hobbled him a bit down the wire as he missed some key free throws and turned over the ball repeatedly. Dallas’s zone sent him to the line repeatedly but it ultimately contained him from having another wild shooting night. Miami in general looked sloppy for most of the second half and their body language suggested they couldn’t wait to get on the team plane to South Beach.
Can Dallas take the title in Game 6? I don’t see why not if the team can keep their energy flowing. Cuban n’ em shot about 60 from the field and nearly 70% from three on 19 shots. That’s utterly insane despite giving up 103 points. Asking for a repeat performance is a tall order but they’ve won in Miami before under worse conditions.
The key to victory for the Mavs consists of a concerted team effort for 48 minutes. They plays best when they don’t build a deficit as shown in last night’s victory. They’ll need to maintain intensity if they aim to close out the series on Sunday. The Heat, on the other hand, didn’t have a bad shooting night as a collective. They simply can’t play passive basketball and throw away the ball again under duress. Uninspired basketball won’t win elimination games so they must sharpen up if they hope to force Game 7.
You’ll be aight, Tinsley. Just hang in there son…