The Miami cHeat: In the BAD comments, AnacondaHL said: "Tomorrow's post could just be an in-depth play-by-play of the last 5 minutes." We'll start with a basic play-by-play of Miami's offensive possessions over the final six minutes and 50 seconds:
6:50: Chris Bosh missed 18-footer 6:05: Bosh missed 18-footer 5:15: Bosh turnover 4:48: Dwyane Wade turnover 4:18: Mike Miller turnover 3:33: Miller missed three-pointer 2:59: Wade missed three-pointer 2:25: LeBron James missed 17-footer 2:25: Miller offensive rebound 2:17: Miller missed layup 2:16: Wade loose ball foul 1:53: Bosh 2-for-2 from the line 1:09: Haslem misses jumper 0:30: Wade 1-for-2 from the line (missed tying free throw) 0:09: Wade dunk 0:01: Miller airballed desperation three-pointer
To sum up: missed jumper, missed jumper, turnover, turnover, turnover, missed jumper, missed jumper, missed jumper, missed layup, two made free throws, missed jumper, one made free throw, dunk, missed jumper.
Remember: Miami's offense feature two of the top five players on the planet. And another All-Star to boot.
LeBron James: Remember how Jason Terry's trash talk was supposed to "fuel the Heat's fire"? And how, when Terry questioned whether LeBron could consistently shut him down in the fourth quarter over seven games, Bosh said:
"You have to let sleeping dogs lie sometimes. It's motivation. For us, it is an opportunity to not let up. Guys are talking and it fuels you.
"If he wants LeBron to turn it up then that's great motivation for LeBron," Bosh said. "Guys remember that when we're out on the floor. LeBron is going to remember that late in the game when it is close and Terry is going to try to get going. LeBron is going to guard him and we'll see who comes out on top."
One of the big storylines heading into Game 4 was the comments made by Jason Terry and how LeBron James would guard him in the fourth quarter. Terry backed up his talk and nearly outscored the Heat's Big Three by himself down the stretch. Terry had eight points in the final quarter and didn't turn the ball over while Wade, James and Bosh combined for nine points and five turnovers.
LeBron had eight points and it was the first time in his 90 career playoff games that he was held to single-digit points. His teams are now 0-7 when he scores 15 points or fewer in a postseason game. James attempted just one shot in the fourth quarter and failed to score despite playing all 12 minutes. This is just the second time he's failed to score in the final period of any playoff game.
Dirk's dominating performance and LeBron's disappearing act in the fourth quarter this game continues a trend from the entire series. Nowitzki has now outscored James 44-9 in the final period while making as many field goals as James has attempted while making six times as many free throws.
LeBron's final line: 46 minutes, 3-for-11, 8 points, 9 rebouns, 7 assists, 2 steals, 4 turnovers, 4 fouls, -6. And, of course, that big old goose egg in the fourth quarter.
Said Bosh: "He struggled. Point blank, period."
Continued LeBron: "I've got to do a better job of being more assertive offensively. I'm confident in my ability. It's just about going out there and knocking them down."
Added cHeat coach Erik Spoelstra: "We'll have to look at the film. Obviously we would like to get him involved. He's a very important piece to what we do. So we'll work to help make it easier for him next game."
Wait, what? Miami's coaching staff needs to look at the film to get LeBron James more involved in the team's offense?
Anyway, back to...
The Miami cHeat: I highlighted the final 6:50, but check out Miami's fourth quarter totals: 14 points on 5-for-15 shooting (33 percente) with 6 turnovers. LeBron went scoreless. Bosh went 8-for-12 in the first half but only 1-for-7 over the final 24 minutes, and he clanked consecutive jump shots down the stretch. Wade missed a freebie that would have tied the game with half a minute to go.
Then, after Terry knocked down two free throws with 6.7 seconds left to put Dallas up 86-83, Spoelstra called a 20-second timeout to get possession in the frontcourt. Miller inbounded to D-Wade, but Wade (who was curling around a screen) took his eyes off the ball and it bobbled off his hands. Pookie barely managed to recover the ball and fling it to Miller for what may have been the crappiest and most hopeless last second shot attempt I've ever seen in a Finals game: A 30-footer over Tyson Chandler while falling out of bounds.
Said Wade: "I saw an opening. Mike threw the ball and I was trying to get to the opening, probably before I caught it. That's how I lost it. Obviously I would love to have that play back. We would love to have a lot of plays back."
Another fourth quarter collapse. And this is a trend, folks.
Let's take a look at the final six minutes from each of the four games played so far. That will give us a 24-minute "half" of basketball we can use for a crunch time comparison.
FINAL 6 MINUTE "SCORES" IN EACH GAME: Game One: Miami 17, Dallas 15 Game Two: Dallas 20, Miami 5 Game Three: Dallas 12, Miami 7 Game Four: Dallas 11, Miami 7
Total: Dallas 58, Miami 36
How's that for a "halftime score?!" Let that register for a minute. Dallas is up 22 points IN CRUNCH TIME, putting points on the board consistently against a defense that now, suddenly, isn't looking so scary. And, Miami should be pretty humiliated that they just popped 5, 7, and 7 points in the final six minutes of the last three games. It took a huge first game just to get them to 36! Dallas is up 43-19 in the final six minutes of action during the last three games.
Some people are citing fatigue, which sounds reasonable considering the Nazgul keep logging 40+ minutes a game. But then how do you explain Dirk's 44 fourth quarter points over four games? Nowitzki's logging epic minutes, too, and he scored 10 points down the stretch last night despite a sinus infection and a reported fever of 101 degrees.
By the way, during these Finals, Dallas is now +30 when Dirk is on the floor and -35 when he's not. With all due respect to Henry Abbott and Rick Reilly, in my humble opinion, the MVP of the playoffs so far is seven feet tall and blond.
Dwyane Wade: Pookie was Miami's player of the game (32 points, 13-for-20, 6 rebounds) but he bricked three freebies -- including one that would have tied the game -- and blew the final play of the game to hell. As stephanie g pointed out: "LeBron looked like a big armless Rondo out there and Marion is arguably outplaying him for the series, or at least playing him to a draw. All the same, imagine if LeBron missed a critical freethrow and had butter fingers on the inbound pass like Wade did."
Three-point shooting: Clink. Clank. Clunk. Dallas went 4-for-19 from downtown and Miami was 2-for-14. The two starting lineups combined to go 0-for-13. Is fatigue setting in on both sides? Sure looks like it.
Peja Stojakovic: His NBA Finals minutes were stolen by...Brian Cardinal.
Brendan Haywood: How poorly did he play in his three-minute stint? His only stat was one foul committed and the Mavs were outscored by 10 points while he was on the floor, prompting Tyson Chandler to jump up and ask Dallas coach Rick Carlisle to be subbed back in.
Said Chandler: "I told Coach, 'You have to get me back out there, I will play 48 (minutes) if I need to.'"
Speaking of Chandler...
Tyson Chandler: We call this an ego-ectomy:
LeBron James, flop machine: Didn't James Harden get crucified for shenanigans like this? Memo to LeBron: You're too good for theatrics like this.
Dirk Nowitzki, quote machine, Part 1: "Just battle it out. This is the finals. You have to go out there and compete and try your best for your team. So that's what I did."
Dirk Nowtizki, quote machine, Part 2: "There's no long term. I'll be alright on Thursday. ... Hopefully I'll get some sleep tonight, take some meds and be ready to go on Thursday."
Tyson Chandler, quote machine: "The average person, you know, has sick days and battling 100-something (fever), it's just tough to get out of bed. This guy is playing against the best athletes in the world."
Chris Bosh, quote machine: "There is not an illness report before the game or anything. I've never been out there and somebody pointed and said, 'He's got a fever!' "
Erik Spoelstra, quote machine: "This series is a jump ball. These guys live for these type of moments. It's about execution and disposition in the fourth quarter, being able to close out. We have a golden opportunity in the next game."
Jason Terry, quote machine: "The aggression was there for me personally. And I like that, that I was on the attack, which I said I would be. But as far as that relating into baskets, it didn't really happen for me."
Brian Cardinal, quote machine, Part 1: From TrueHoop: "It's The King vs. The Custodian! It's an unbelievable player against ... me."
Brian Cardinal, quote machine, Part 2: Also from TrueHoop: "[The Custodian is] a nickname from back in the day. Now I'm just happy if people call me Brian."
Chris' NBA Finals Lacktion Report: Brendan Haywood hobbled his way to a foul in 185 seconds, earning a +1 suck differential and a 1:0 Madsen-level Voskuhl. Fellow Texan Peja Stojakovic had only two seconds of playing time for a celebratory Super Mario!