Well, that didn’t go so well. After being questioned for his “shrinkage” in Game 3, LeBron James couldn’t have made the naysayers naysay anymore than after Game 4’s loss to the Dallas Mavericks. Once again, Miami appeared to be in control behind another big night from Dwyane Wade but sputtered down the stretch.
What do the Heat need to do differently? Simple. Make their stars play like stars, and don’t let Dirk Nowitzki make plays in the fourth quarter.
Key #1: Have no regard for human life
Remember what LeBron James is like when he’s assertive? Where’d he go? If Miami wants to win this thing, both LeBron and Wade need to score in the mid to high 20s. I don’t know what all the talk about being out of rhythm means for James when he proved with the Cavaliers he is one of the best one-on-one players in the league. Not trying to score is different than being out of rhythm.
Even if his jump shot isn’t hitting, he still can get to the free throw line and finish over anyone on the Mavericks. Credit the Dallas defense, but if James doesn’t have at least 10 free throw attempts, then that’s a failure on his part. Wade will still get his points, and LeBron will still do his duty and distribute the ball (as I wrote in Game 4’s keys, if he’s attacking the basket. He needs to at least try.
Key #2: Defensive collapsing in the fourth
Miami showed they can somewhat limit Nowitzki. He went 6-for-19 from the field in Game 4, probably due to a fever, but it was the 10 fourth-quarter points that killed the Heat. Because Nowitzki’s not a guy who will start jacking up shots out of the flow of the offense, there’s no need to double-team him through 42 minutes of the game.
But the last six minutes? Throw a double on him and make Dirk pass it to someone else. He’s beaten the Heat one-on-one in two of the three last games, and the one miss was a good look under single coverage. Maybe it’s risky, but collapse on Nowitzki and collapse in the paint to prevent drives, and one of the other Mavs will be forced to hit a clutch jumper.
Key #3: Avoid hero mode
Yes, as with the first two keys, this one is specific to the fourth quarter. That’s because Miami has seemingly dominated the Mavericks in quarters one-through-three in every game. They’ve gotten easy buckets for James and Wade within their offensive sets, and while Dallas’ defense does appear to crank up a notch as the game comes to a conclusion, blame also belongs on Miami for playing hero ball.
Instead of getting open shots and moving the ball, Wade and James (when he has taken his few fourth-quarter shots) have gone iso-happy. Generally, that means jacking up fadeaways as the clock dwindles down. Instead, they need to run the offense. If that means passing it to a wide open Mario Chalmers or Mike Miller, so be it.
What do you think? Will Miami win Game 5?
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