If I told you before the postseason that the Miami Heat would have a 1-0 lead in the Finals, were undefeated at home in the playoffs, up 15 with 7 minutes to go in Game 2, you would obviously assume they went up 2-0. After promising their fans multiple championships, you think they would be more focused than to let Dallas comeback in that situation, right? Wrong. In one of the worst and most embarrassing meltdowns in NBA Finals’ history, the Heat let Dallas come back and tie the series on their home floor. Now going to Dallas for Game 3, Miami has put themselves in sort of a must-win situation. After the 2-3-2 format was put into effect for the Finals, 11 times out of 11 the Game 3 winner has gone on to win the title.
With that being said, here are the three keys to a Game 3 victory for the Miami Heat.
Key #1: Maintaining Awareness/Play with a Sense of Urgency
Now that Miami has allowed Dallas to climb back into the series by losing focus at the end of Game 2, Game 3 is a must-win. Being Americas most hated team, Miami cannot afford to play from behind in this series. If they go down 2-1, the whole world will turn against them again, and that’s when all of the “is Miami in trouble?” debates are going to begin. All season long they’ve had their eyes on the prize and haven’t lost sight of the goal they are trying to accomplish. However, in Game 2 of the Finals, with seven minutes left in the game, they lost focus. Dallas is too good of a jump shooting team to count out during a 15+ lead. The worst part about the entire comeback is that on the last play of the game, Miami fell asleep defensively, which is very uncharacteristic of them. They sat and watched Dirk wheel his way to the basket while Tyson Chandler and Shawn Marion stood right next to each other in the corner. Whenever the clock is winding down, and two players are standing right next to each other in the corner (with the ball on the opposite side) it’s a must that you run a second defender at the player in control and force him to pass the basketball. There wasn’t enough time left on the cock for Dallas to move the ball and get a great look. Instead, Miami stayed at home on the two non-threats in the corner and watched Dirk take it left for a layup. They also weren’t aware that they had a foul to give. Miami’s sense of urgency has to be higher than that in the Finals. Now that they have a possibility of going down 2-1, their sense of urgency must be raised to its highest degree in Game 3. The Heat have to regroup, rededicate and recommit themselves to getting this title. At the end of Game 2, they didn’t look like they wanted it bad enough.
Key #2: Keep the crowd out of the game
If Miami wants to win, they have to keep Dallas’ crowd out of the game. When Dallas is playing at home, the home crowd seems to fuel their shooting. If Miami continues to fall asleep on the offensive end for just the slightest bit during this game, Dallas will shoot the lights out. Jason Terry is capable of putting up anywhere from 5-10 threes when the crowd is erupting after each of his first three or four. Once Dallas gets comfortable at home, it’s no turning back from there. Miami does not want to play from behind in Dallas, because a 10-point lead can go to a 16-point lead in the blink of an eye with the crowd in the game. What they must do is make highlight plays, get in the open court and dunk all over Dallas. If they choose to brick jump shots in crucial situations, Dallas could bust this game wide open. If Miami can get to the basket early, make some highlight plays on both ends of the floor and show the crowd that they aren’t playing any games with this championship, they will have the opportunity to bust the game open at some point.
Key #3: Rebound the basketball
The rebounding statistics have been big for the Heat this postseason. They are 9-0 in the playoffs when they win the rebounding battle. In Game 1, they were +10 and they came up with a victory. In Game 2, they were -11. It’s clear that the glass plays a large role in the outcome. Joel Anthony and Udonis Haslem must play their most aggressive game. Early in the game, LeBron has to crash the glass as opposed to expecting his bigs to get the rebound and waiting for that outlet pass. If they can dominate the glass in the first half, the Heat will go into halftime with a 5-10 point lead. In the third quarter, LeBron can start to wait for those outlets, push the basketball and make some highlight plays in the open court, setting the tone of the second half early. If they maintain awareness and play with a sense of urgency, keep the crowd out of the game, and rebound the basketball, Game 3 will be a victory for Miami.
What do you think? Will Miami win tonight?
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