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Hoop it up all week with SI.com's writers in the NBA Playoffs Blog, a daily journal of NBA commentary, on-site reporting and reader-driven discussions.
1:30 AM ET, 6/11/06

Mavs continue to exude confidence

Posted by Kelly Dwyer
Whether you're in the bowels of the American Airlines Center, or watching the news conference on your cable outlet of choice, you had to be struck by Avery Johnson's postgame news conference. The man took over the Dallas Mavericks 15 months ago, he's two wins from the NBA title, and he just seems to be the opposite of revelatory at this point. I don't know why I'm still surprised by his tone, we should be used to his exacting, confident way, but the man seems completely unaffected by his team's brilliant, brilliant play. He expects his team to win, and win big, every time out -- and this sort of stewardship is one of the biggest reasons why Dallas made an absolute wreck of the Miami Heat on Sunday night.

I've never seen anything like it from a first-time winner. Plenty of teams act cocksure, even as they make their way to that first title, but more often than not this is a bit of bravado that is in place merely to mask those twinges of insecurity. Not these Mavs. They expect to win, they expect that they'll execute, and they expect their hard work to pay off. It's a wonderful thing to watch, especially as this team learns something new about themselves every time out, but I didn't really pick up on that edge until Game 3 of their opening-round series with the Memphis Grizzlies.

Maybe I missed it all season long, or maybe the Mavs themselves didn't realize what they had until that pivotal Game 3 win (obviously, I'd much prefer the latter); but they seemed to turn a corner with that overtime victory. They entered the second half of that contest down eight to the Grizzlies, a suffocating defensive team that had won 30 games at home on the season, and more or less decided to distance themselves from the playoff also-rans with the comeback conquest. Though Dallas should have been more than content with a five- or six-game win in the opening round, they appeared collectively to dismiss that sort of gameplan at once -- working all angles on D, moving the ball, and chipping their way to six-point victory that took the spirit right out of the Grizz.

Dallas followed it up with a 26-point win on the road to close the series; and took down the defending champs in a second-round series that never seemed as close as the final scores indicated. People forget that, with a street-legal Jason Terry, the Mavs should have closed the Spurs out in Game 6 at home. Instead, they lost by five without the sharp-shooting guard, and were forced to win Game 7 on the road -- allowing both pundit and Spurs fans alike to pull the tired "this series could go 77 games, and neither team would emerge as a true winner" line.

That wasn't true. The Mavericks are different. They're nonplussed when they down the defending champs, they're barely bothered when Shaquille O'Neal is held to five points in an NBA Finals game, and they act as if a championship is par for the course -- rather than a birthright, or coronation waiting to happen. This team is entitled without boasting a sense of entitlement, they boast the best player in the NBA right now, the most inventive young coach in the game, and they're the most dynamic team attack we've seen since those deep Isiah Thomas-led Detroit Pistons teams that dominated on both ends of the court.

This isn't to say that Miami is done (they aren't), or that the Mavs should have no issues in dispatching the Heat in Florida (they won't), but this team is primed for a championship, and I can't see anything upsetting their focus -- even if the Heat take the next three. Pat Riley's players decided to try to win the easy way Sunday night, taking bad shots, lazily walking the ball up court, refusing to adhere to basic pro hoop principals like setting up solid passing angles or sending over intelligent double teams. But Miami's stupid shots will fall at home; they'll get a few calls and act more interested on defense. All this will result in a more competitive pair of contests.

But I don't see the Mavs relenting. They'll continue to do the same things that brought them the win Sunday night. They'll continue to make the extra pass, they'll continue to dominate the defensive boards, they'll refuse to walk through their defensive sets, and they'll remain acutely aware of their individual roles. This may not be enough to take two (or even one) in Miami, but there's no shame in losing to a 52-win team on the road.

In their minds, led by that coach and that 7-footer, the Mavericks have already won. But they're also smart enough to understand the task that lies ahead.

Trading Fours

-- Bad news for Miami when 31-year old Jerry Stackhouse looks quicker off the dribble than anyone on the Heat. Stack was tremendous Sunday night with 19 points on just 11 shots, in only 30 minutes, with three boards and three assists. Also, Jerry is right-handed. Not sure if this has been pointed out yet.

-- Jason Williams, over his last nine games before Sunday night, hit three of three free throws. In Game 2 he hit four of five. If Jason keeps that up, the Miami could have a chance here. After all the double-teams and switches, Williams usually ends up with the ball in hands late in the shot clock -- and so far during the postseason he's either decided to chuck a three, or pull up for a 19-footer off a hard dribble in these situations. If he starts driving pell-mell to the hole, looking for contact, good things will happen.

-- Jason Terry (16 points, nine assists) has turned the ball over just four times in 78 minutes so far this series. Solid.

-- Shaquille O'Neal (2-of-19 from the line in the Finals, if you count misses during lane violations) is due to make $20 million in the 2009-10 season.

Comments:

Posted: 2:01 AM   by Anonymous
Nice blog, but you are aware that the next THREE are in Miami, right?
Posted: 2:18 AM   by Chris C
Right on about Dirk being the best player in the game right now. Offensively he is the biggest all around threat in the league (Does ANYONE match up well with him?) and his defense has grown tremendously. Oh yeah, and in reference to his three point play at the end of regulation to tie up Game 7 against the Spurs, has there been a bigger, higher stakes play made in years? Against the Defensive POY runner up, no less. Dirk for MVP '07!
Posted: 2:20 AM   by Nels
Just a reminder that the Finals format is 2-3-2.
Posted: 3:16 AM   by Anonymous
The heat need to bench Walker till he decides to play smarter! Terrible passes, even worse defense... Sure his stats look decent but watching the game i got the feeling that for every basket he makes there are at least two,three boneheaded plays (like that 4point play foul). p.s. NOTE TO RILEY: Find a way to get shaq more touches and space!!! LIKE PASSING HIM THE BALL MORE THEN 2 TIMES PER QUARTER
Posted: 3:27 AM   by Anonymous
The Mavericks came out with the mentality that they need to earn the championship ring.

The Heat, however, came out thinking that the ring will come their way.

Obviously, who is the winner?

My point is that, from my observation of the game, the Heat is way too lazy for a team that reached the Finals. Losing 1 game? Maybe they are just too excited and thankful that they made it to the Finals, with the exception of Shaq. But 2 games? The Mavs outhustled the Heat in both games.

What are they thinking? So what if they boast stars like Walker, Wade, Williams, O'neal, Mourning, Williams, Payton, Posey and not to forget, a superstar coach in Pat Riley? They need to work harder than how it seems to be. My vote for Heat man of the match has to be Haslem. He doesn't score much, but his work ethics and defense on Nowitzki, although Dirk may find his way through in the end, are not worse than the "well-publicized" stars.

In a nutshell, the Heat have to pick up as a team together in game 3. In their homecourt, if they lose, they NEVER should have been in the Finals, unless the Mavericks play outstanding basketball, which makes them all worthy of the championship ring.

The Mavericks are outstanding. After much reading, they are very versatile and can play any style, as long as it is effective. Catch my words; THE MAVERICKS and WADE, O'NEAL etc. The Mavericks are 2-0 up because they play TEAM. The Heat are filled with superstars. It's a TEAM that wins championships, not superstars, although an efficient team is led by a superstar, which in Mavericks case is Dirk Nowitzki. He is simply phenomenal for a 7 footer. Shoots, penetrates, post, rebound... Finals MVP is definitely him.

As much as I personally do not wish to see the Mavericks crowned NBA champs, but with the way things are going, I cannot help but say that unless the Heat do something (besides acknowleding they cannot beat them), the Mavericks are going to be the NBA champions.

Game 3 is extremely crucial. It really determines whether the Heat will rise or be swept. Hopefully the wisdom of Riley and Shaq can wake up the young Heat players.

My personal note; I absolutely dislike Antoine Walker being a Heat. In fact, he should be in the D-League and grow up a bit. But just being kind to him, let him return to the Celtics, where he seems to work best with Paul Pierce.
Posted: 4:08 AM   by Anonymous
Trading away Eddie Jones looks really horrible now. They could use another perimeter defender.
Posted: 4:37 AM   by johngchapman
No one would have believed me if I had said that Shaq would only have five more points than I did in game two. But there it was. It has been nice to see that the Mavs are finally starting to get some notice from the media, even if most of the pregame focuses around the Heat. I think most national media types still think, or until recently have thought, these are the Don Nelson Mavs, which is because most of these so called experts haven't watched a quarter of Mavs basketball until now. I have watched them all season and I didn't think that the defense had improved so much, but the proof is in the pudding. And we are all Nowitznesses.
Posted: 8:48 AM   by Nader
I dont know what's happened to the Heat, but they can't seem to get a rhythm at all, nor will they ever for the rest of this series. Surprisingly, with Shaq in the middle, the most Dallas fouls were committed by Josh Howard. The Mavs don't even need to do a Hack-a-Shaq anymore, it's now just become Sack-a-Shaq. With Shaq out of the game in every facet, Miami has one more person to rely on (Dwayne Wade). After that, who are they gonna get, Antoine Walker? The Mavs traded him away because he was so terrible. Maybe the Mavs won't sweep the series, but expect it to end in South Beach. Mavs in 5
Posted: 8:59 AM   by Anonymous
I thought the Heat would win this series after beating Detroit. Just looks like they cant keep up on either end of the court with Dallas' speed or quickness. It also looks like Shaq is having a harder time than normal finding the open man off of the double teams, which is playing into Dallas' hands. Mav in 6. -- Mike, NYC
I am a Heat fan, but my intuition tells me that the Mavs are a better team. The are effective on both ends of the court; beisdes their speed in transition can't be matched. Their route of the world champions also gave them confidence. I will say we are on our way to a short series!!!
Posted: 9:39 AM   by Anonymous
Can't wait to see how Heat fans try to explain and put a positive spin after two terrible games, I don't care if you are at home, on the road, or in space, that was horrible. Now here is the list of the best five players on the court in these finals....
1) Dallas' starting five
2) Dallas' first five reserves
3) Dallas' coaching staff (come on you don't think Avery Johnson still couldn't beat the Heat?)
4)Dallas' other two players and the towel boys (yes even with one player being suspended)
5) Heat's bench
6)Heat's starting five
Posted: 9:48 AM   by Anonymous
The best Heat fans can come up with is that there are three games in Miami now? Dallas fans have seen the Mavericks play their last game at home this year.
Posted: 9:58 AM   by Anonymous
Shaq is awful. Who cares if he doesnt get post passes, it wasnt hard for ERIC DAMPIER and the rest of the Blist centers to grab Boards, Shaq needs to become an officer of the law next year, and save the Heat some cap room.
Posted: 10:07 AM   by Anonymous
I do not think we should be so quick to give up on the Heat. I feel that they have a very good change to win three in Miami.
Posted: 10:09 AM   by Anonymous
I don't know why everyone is so surprised that the series is playing out like it is. The Mavs swept the season's series against these guys. Did you guys see the Mavs this year? Even Charles Barkley had come around by the time playoffs started. We ended up with 60 wins even though we only had a full healthy roster for the last 1/8th of the regular season. Who knows what the record would have been with a full roster all season (like Detroit's).

It was put best by one of the commentators I was listening to in a pregame. The Dallas Mavericks are like the Swiss Army knife of the NBA. They just have so many weapons that a coach (even Riley) can't scheme up a way to beat them. Allow me to put it this way - playing the Mavs is like trying to fight T-1000 from the movie Terminator 2; it's almost impossible because he molds into whatever you can't beat. You go big, Mavs go small and run you to death. You go small, Mavs clog the middle with a big man and control the boards. You mix it up, Mavs mix it up. And just like T-1000 walking into liquid nitrogen or playing near a vat of molten metal, the only thing that can take down the Mavs at this point in the season is their own stupidity. And with Avery at the helm... I don't think they do stupid.
Posted: 10:28 AM   by Anonymous
Obviously this series is far from over, although it is ammusing to see all the pundits who picked Miami in this series - what were they thinking? I think the problem is they want Miami to win and aren't looking at the series objectively. Miami played poorly to start the playoffs and was lucky to catch the Pistons after being extended to 7 games by LeBron - the Heat have been good in the playoffs, but in no way great.

Meanwhile, the Mavs took care of business by sweeping the Grizzlies, beating the champs (note that San Antonio played great ball and still lost!), and then completely changed their game to match up against the Suns. Some would argue that this will be the easiest series for the MAvs since the opening round.

Those that picked the Heat must have forgot that the Heat played like dump against the good NBA teams this year, while Dallas dropped 25 point whippings on San Antonio, Miami and Detroit this year......

Again, why is anyone surprised by what is happening. Dallas will win at least one game in Miami and may even close out there........congrats to Mark Cuban and Avery Johnson - Go Mavs!
Posted: 10:34 AM   by Anonymous
I don't know if everyone is watching the same NBA Finals that I watched. The Mavericks look good both on defense and offense. Shaq is a good player but he is not no longer the player he once was...and Wade can't do it by himself. I see the Mav's taking it in 5.
Posted: 10:38 AM   by Anonymous
I'll start off by saying this... I'm a Mavs fan, have been for years now. I endured the Jamal, Jimmy, and Jason (Mashburn, Jackson, and Kidd, respectively) rays of hope that eventually turned to complete darkness. I lived through the Shawn Bradley years. I survived the eras of Roy Tarpley and Popeye Jones (Popeye!). And I, for one, am ELATED that we will be closing the Heat out in 5 or 6.

Many people will say that for such an eventful post season thus far, this ending is kind of a letdown. Well I say LET 'EM DOWN!!! We in Dallas deserve this. We have suffered long enough, and have earned the right to see our team completely dominate another "powerhouse".

And you know what... barring some huge shift in power in the off-season, I can see us doing the same thing next season. We're too good with too many young up-and-comers in the pipeline. You can't tell me Harris, Howard, Diop, and Daniels won't be household names for hoops fans in a couple of years. Throw in the rise to demi-god status of Dirk with on-the-cusp-of-stardom Jason Terry, and you got a darn good squad for years to come.

And I think too little has been said about this next point. There's something satisfying about watching a team of "soft" "no names", "cast-offs", or "scrubs" who completely changed their image over the course of a year (thanks Avery!) beat a team that was manufactured together with big names and big egos (thanks Riley!) that was suppposed to secure a championship. Kudos to the Mavs for doing it the right way with substance instead of going for the glitz and glam of people who are coasting along on their reputations.

Mavs in 6... no... 5. Mavs in 5.

-Byron (happy in Dallas)
Posted: 10:51 AM   by Anonymous
It is amazing on how humble the Mavs are acting after completely dominating a team in the NBA Finals, especially that it is their first time here and they are against (king) Shaq. But it is even more amazing on how Pat Riley and most of the Heat players can sit at the podium and STILL say "We will see what happens next game -in Miami." Is this what has become of Riley's coaching legacy - we will see what happens next game? Jeez! And that is the problem - they HAVE NO ANSWERS! The Mavs are a better team, and they will finally get some recognition and the respect they ABSOLUTELY deserve for this season they have had after they once again SMOKE the Heat! Mavs in 4!
Posted: 11:30 AM   by Anonymous
Miami, get it together. Looking at your roster, as talented as it is. It might be the last time alot of you make it to the big dance, take the lead! Shaq, you better be doing free throw drills from now to Tuesday.
Posted: 12:03 PM   by Anonymous
Seems like Pistons would've done a much better job!
Posted: 12:10 PM   by Anonymous
Mavs have a very good record when on the road, so I really don't think Heat can take any comfort aout playing at ahome. And I don't see how Heat can find anyway out of this situation. I would bet on Mavs in 4 or 5.
Posted: 12:13 PM   by Anonymous
For the Heat, their 'Finals' was against the Pistons. They were so focused on beating them, they've lost focus in this series. Their collective age is now showing. A bunch of has beens won't win you a championship (See LA Lakers 2004). Just because the next THREE are in Miami and the reminder the Finals format is 2-3-2doesn't guarantee victory. That actually works against the Heat since there has only been one time the home team won all 3 games. Miami may win Game 3 but will lose Game 4 and possibly Game 5. At most, this will be a six game series.
Posted: 12:36 PM   by Anonymous
Shaq got fined for avoiding being interviewed after the game...how come no one points out that when a Shaq led team wins in the Finals he is the reason why but when they lose it is someone else's fault for not giving HIM the ball? This just proves that the Western Conference is better...I wouldn't be surprised if the eighth seeded team in the West (LAKERS) couldn't beat anyone the East would have sent to the Finals. Nice trade LA...Shaq is gonna make $20 million next year. Quick math question, how much money does Shaq get paid for every free throw he makes in the Finals? HA HA HA...rejoicing in LA.
Posted: 12:38 PM   by Anonymous
First, olutayo osunkunle, a series that goes 7 games with several OT finishes (Spurs/Mavs) can not, by any stretch of the imagination, be called a "route."

Second, Miami is exhibiting the classic Team of Stars syndrome: when things are not going their way, instead of pulling together as a team they start scowling and pointing their fingers at one another.

Dallas, like the Spurs and the old Detroit is playing beautiful team ball, which is why I love watching the game now and hated watching when the Lakers were winning.

I think we've already seen the true finals (Spurs/Mavs) and are now witnessing a pathetic formality.

Hope Miami gets it together and I can watch a real game or two before the season is over.
Posted: 12:39 PM   by Anonymous
First I want to say I'm a Miami Heat fan so you will know that some of my comments here are biased and some aren't.

1) Dirk isn't the best player in the league...neither is Wade. It's King James.

2) I think there is a GREAT chance for Miami to loose at least one game at home. What will determine this is a) can Pat finally get this team to be aggressive on D for the full 48 minutes instead of waiting until they are down 20+ points. b) Can Dallas continue to hit the outside shots away from home? That is usually the biggest problem with being away. c) will the refs continue to favor Dallas or will they favor the home team like usual (sometimes the refs do favor one team during a series...see Lakers vs Kings a few years ago)...so does the league WANT Dallas to win?

3) The difference so far in this series is that a) Miami can't hit a foul shot b) Dallas is aggressive (pro-active) on D and Miami is passive (re-active). That could change if Pat woke up and smelled the coffee.

4) Pat's decision to not have a shoot around was pure idiocy. It's a well known fact that a player shoots much much better in a game if he practices his shot a few hours before the game. It kind of dials the shooter in. Not doing this, especially an away game where you have to get used to the rims and court, is stupid.
Posted: 12:40 PM   by Amos Walker
Get out the broom.
Posted: 12:59 PM   by Lyndon
Dwyer,

You hit some great key points. Dallas does expect to win because they have worked hard all season long. Whoever said, "luck is better than good" anyway? The Mavs have worked hard to be as good as they are and have earned the right to play for their first championship. They exude the will and demeanor of their coach who's revealed why he deserved the coach of the year award.

What's amazing to me is that, unless you're a die-hard fan, Dallas was under the radar all season. They posted the 3rd best record in the league, 2nd in the conference (though they were placed 4th due to the league's ubsurd ranking system) and while we were all looking the other way, the Mavs quietly won 34 home games, 60 total.

I don't believe they realized they were this good in game 3 of the first round. They realized over the course of the season that the fruits of their labor has sown what we see before our eyes, the 2006 champions-to-be.
Posted: 1:02 PM   by Steve M.
Dear Heat,

Thanks for taking Walker off our hands. Mavs in 5.

P.S.
Shaq, where you at? 2-19?!?! Ouch...5pts...ouch.
Posted: 1:40 PM   by Anonymous
It's over! I could tell by the 3rd Q of game one. Just watching Shaq sucking air while at the line....Miami is too old and too slow to keep up with the Mavs. Game 3 will be tough, with Miami giving one last ditch effort to make a series out of it, but 2 days rest with a travel day only helps the younger Mavs, and Dallas will pull it out in the end. Dirk and the boys go up 3-0, and who cares what happen then.

It's over

The Dallas Mavericks are YOUR NEW NBA WORLD CHAMPS!
Why are people mentioning the finals format? He did say:

"...even if the Heat take the next three."

The "taking two (or one)" on the road comment was related to that observation. In other words, how many of the next three will they win on the road, one or two (they can't win three because it's not best of nine)?

If you're going to criticize, at least work on your reading comprehension skills a little first.
Posted: 1:58 PM   by Anonymous
hey remember this...we're up 2-0. everyone kept saying the GREAT WADE and the GREAT SHAQ. who? what? oh yeah, the great Shaq was supposed to have a dominate game in Game 2. Yeah, he dominated the bench. we only have to win two more. they still have four to go!! we will win this in MIAMI! GO MAVS GO! forget SHAQ-FU it's more like SHAQ-WHO!
Posted: 2:17 PM   by Randy S
Writers and fans tend to over analyze games especially in the playoffs. This series is long from over. Shaq is waiting for the double team(sometimes triple) and making the right basketball play, his teamates are not finishing and the mavericks scrambling defense has been good. Shaq simply giving them a different look and immediately going at the the mavs when he gets the ball(sometimes, mixing it up) will get more points for him, the same people who are saying he's old and doesn't have it anymore are the same that said he looked 25 in the last series. Shaq is the best center in the game period and this series will go to 6 or 7. And lets not forget MIA outplayed DAL in the first game for 40 minutes. The mavericks did what they were supposed to do(win at home) lets see them win 1 in miami.
Posted: 2:18 PM   by Anonymous
I have said it since the first round, there is no hungrier or more focused team in these playoffs than the Dallas Mavs. So far they have also proven to be more talented and more relentless then anybody else. When they swept Memphis, they sent a strong message to the NBA but nobody seemed to notice the significance of it.
Dwyer, you and the rest of the doubters/haters will never give the Mavs the respect that they deserve. Everybody keeps saying that Shaq needs to play better, etc. How about giving credit to the Mavs defense? Have you realized that maybe the reason the Heat is not playing well is because everytime they turnaround there is a Mav in their face or in the lane? So far they have beat Miami convincingly, including the regular season, with and without Shaq period.
You seem to forget that Dallas beat the best home team in the NBA this season (the Spurs) at their own home in the semis. Just a thought, if Dallas had not lost the first game by two points after playing careless the last 2 minutes of it, they would have swept SA 4-0 as well.
I wouldn't be surprised if the Mavs sweep Miami or win 4-1, maybe then you will show them some respect.
The Dallas Ro
Posted: 2:26 PM   by Randy S
The mavs did what they were supposed to do, win at home. how soon we forget the mavs were outplayed for 40 minutes of the first game, the series is far from over. Shaq didnt fail he made the right plays but his teamates couldn't finish. Shaq will be dominant in games 3, 4, and 5 in MIA. Shaq will adjust just like he did earlier in the playoffs, instead waiting for the double(and triple) team every time he gets the ball he will be more aggressive and mix it up by immediatel taking it to the basket no maverick can guard him, the heat win in 7.
Posted: 2:34 PM   by Anonymous
Dirk IS the best player in the league. Lebron may be at some point but he isnt right now.

The Mavs work harder than any team, and it shows.

After game 2, it was all criticisms of walker. Basically Ive been sayin nothin but trash about the guy for years. However, he was the BEST player for the Heat in game 2. The Mavs whooped miami, and disoriented shaq wade and williams. The heat should never have to depend on Walker to bail them out. The guy is nothing but a poor role player, and yet he played better than shaq or wade. Wade the next Jordan? I think not. Best player in the game? 26 points 16 boards 4 dimes 2 blocks in what is just an average game for him in the playoffs. Miami better watch out if he actually gets goin.
Posted: 2:50 PM   by jim
Where did Avery Johnson learn to coach? This man is amazing. He learned his leadership skills playing under POP and has carried that over to the head coaching job in less than 2 years. How did SA let him go?

He even got Stackhouse to play defense.

He has outcoached everyone on the way to championship. Maybe Flip should sit on Johnson's bench for a while and maybe he can get Detroit to run agianst Miami.

Johnson's scare could get me off the internet and get some work done.
Posted: 2:55 PM   by Anonymous
Dallas in 4
Posted: 3:08 PM   by Anonymous
Miami might win a game or two, but there's no way they win four and one reason for that is the Mavs' bench. The Mavericks go ten deep and that wears teams down over a seven game series. It is a grind to play these guys and the Sunday-Tuesday-Thursday scheduling is in Dallas' favor.
most people who have watched the nba all season knew the heat weren't real title contenders. i think the real surprise was how quickly detroit and the rest of the east fell apart.

going into this series none of these same b-ball watchers should be surprised at dallas' dominance. dallas has won all three of its playoff series on the road, including taking out the 63-win defending champ spurs in san antonio (something even defending champ [at the time] pistons couldn't do) and the 53-win, mvp-led suns in phoenix along with 47-win memphis. these mavs are for real.

as for miami, they have a bunch of guys who may have had talent at one time (payton, walker, williams, mourning), but have never won anything because they could never grasp the intangibles that make a champion. shaq may know what it takes, but his last two finals appearances (detroit in 2004 & now) show just how far he has fallen. we are basically watching a replay of the detroit/l.a. finals in 2004 (you mean maybe it wasn't kobe's fault?) - a TEAM of players is beating one led by an ineffective shaq, allowing a convergence on the only other threat, d-wade (or kobe in 2004), because dallas knows no one else can consistently do anything. any coincidence gary payton is on both these teams?

here's hoping d-wade can get a team around him before he gets too old or to beat up because out of this whole bunch he is a true gamer and champion.

enjoy signing those checks for shaq, riles.
Posted: 3:10 PM   by Anonymous
Miami has the come down with a bad case of veteran itus. It starts with a bench loaded with guys that have a been there done that mind set and an ego that's off the chain. Detroit was imune from this sickness but they too came down with veteran itus. In the early nintines the Knicks came down with a case, remember John Starks? How about the Lakers two years ago? It seems like the big stage and bright lights (the big show) becomes some kind of kryptonite and these old wise great ballers become unsure of there abilities. It's time for the real jedi knights to show up or the Heat will be swept!
Posted: 3:26 PM   by Anonymous
I look forward to next year's realistic MVP debate with Kobe, Dirk and LeBron's playoff performances in mind. Dirk is showing some sick game and all of these guys can legitimately claim to be the best basketball player on the court. Man, I'd love it if Wade could find the juice and make us remember him in that list...
Posted: 4:11 PM   by Anonymous
The Mavs seem to be making more mistakes (turning the ball over) against the Heat, yet they're still dominating in most, if not all, areas of the game. This reflects the players' discipline and the coach's poise (especially in time outs).

The Heat MIGHT take game 3, but Johnson will make his normal adjustments, and the Mavs will win in 5. I say "might" because the Heat might have already lost in 4 in their own minds. Dallas will show no mercy. Nice guys with killer instinct - gotta love it!
Posted: 4:12 PM   by Nader
Randy S,
Ya know, denial isn't just a river in Africa. You're obviously from South Beach, because youre trying to create the false reality that the Heat will SOMEHOW pull this off. But in all sense, there is absolutely no way you can justify it. You try to say that Shaq must do this and that, and his teammates aren't helping him. However, you cannot rely on just 1 person to carry you throughout the game, especially in an NBA finals, where the 2 best TEAMS are squaring off. It's the fact that Shaq's teammates aren't helping him that have caused them to lose. Let's say we should take Dirk out of the game. The Mavs would still be able to win without him (aka game 1). You take Shaq out, as has happened in the last 2 games, and you got a Miami team whos age has caused them to hold onto their Walkers (no pun intended). Face it, Dallas is an extremely solid team, and Pat has had no answer for their finesse. No matter what he throws at Avery, Avery has another trick up his sleeve to counter that. Unless the Hurricane managed to kill all the Dallas team (not just the starting 5, because at this point the Dallas bench could take on the Heat too), you're looking at a lightning fast end to this series.
Posted: 4:18 PM   by Johny M
When Miami has needed to win, they have always found a way to do it. I'm not scarred.
Posted: 4:46 PM   by Anonymous
As a Mavs fan, I am not surprised by the victories. A lot of Dallas fans, including myself, were praying that the Heat come out of the East. Behold! Our prayers have been answered! Hallelujah!

I have to say, I thought the Heat would put up more of a fight than what I have seen so far. I think even Memphis could beat them in a seven game series.
Posted: 4:58 PM   by Anonymous
Even before this series the Heat were in trouble. Jason Williams & Walker doesn't even remotely fake the fact that they don't care about defense. Terry has gone right (hello Jason he's right handed) and to the rim too many times on Williams. Posey commits dumb fouls 20 ft from the basket. If only the entire Heat team had the hard and determination of Zo.
Posted: 5:13 PM   by Anonymous
Is there any reason to think that Miami will win a game? The Mavs are not playing that well yet have won both games easily.
Posted: 5:32 PM   by PattyCakes
Did anyone else notice how profusely the Heat players were sweating trying to chase the Mavs up and down the court last night? I had to laugh at overweight Shaq & Walker, and old man Payton, in totally soaked jerseys running behind Dirk, Terry and Howard!

Let's be real: Sure,they have 3 games in Miami, but we all know the Heat can't match the athleticism and speed of the Mavs. If the Suns of all teams, couldn't beat them, who cares about Shaq? People are so naive. Why do you think Dr. Buss traded Shaq to begin with? The man's past his "glory days", he's habitually out of shape and still can't make free throws after all
these years. Buss is no fool - he cut his losses.

If I hear them say one more time Wade has a virus I'll throw up! Each time the Heat gets behind in a series, something's wrong with Wade. Riley kept saying, "Now, this isn't to make excuses, but Wade has a stomach virus...blah, blah, blah". Yeah right, Pat, you backstabber. They sent you packin' out of LA so you and your buddy Shaq belong together - two rejects! Seems the Heat get all LA's leftovers, don't it?
How detriot lost to miami is still a wonder to me. Given Shaq looked like O neal in Orlando, but what we see now is what Kobe was talking about in the 2004 nba finals a fat, old man who best bet is to retire while he still has his knees. Worse of for the Miami heat Walker, a reason why I have a dream that maybe I could play in the Nba. Dr Wade is the reason Miami is where they are right now but I have a feeling that wade is goin to end up like Kobe, what a great team Kobe, Wade who would score more points.... The heat are destined to win one game at least so we it wont be a waste of a finals experience.
Posted: 6:58 PM   by Anonymous
Ok, so the Heat fans think that their team still have life. Well they do, don't get me wrong, but not for the finals. Lets get one thing straight: The Mavs have proved that they belong in the final by the beating a still very good Spurs point blank. That was something the pistons counldn't do with the same team they have now.

I am saying all of this because the Heat beat a out of sinc pistons. The Heat road to the finals has been fairly easy. Now, come on fairly easy. Would anyone believe that the Heat could the suns or the spurs. I think not!

The fact of the matter is, the Mavs have the better team period, home or away. I see people seem to forget that the Mavs have beat people on their on court in these playoffs. Best of all, they beat the defending champs who just so happening have the best record at home, on their own home court to close out the series. So those who think the Heat will win all three is beside themself and really needs to look at reality.

Also, Shaq is getting, but he is not sorry, I give all props to the Mavs for coming up with a plan not to let Shaq beat them. Everyone knows, that Heat have no other answer beside D-Wade. The rest of them are not what the Heat fans make them out to be.

Mavs in 5 maybe 6.
Posted: 10:37 PM   by Anonymous
Why are the Miami Heat and their fans acting like they are going to win the next three games? They keep reiterating the fact that they hold home court "advantage" for the next three. Are they forgetting that they are playing against a team who obviously are not affected by playing in another team's building? Mavs have clinched their last three series ON THE ROAD, with a game 7 in the home of the defending NBA champions!!! The Heat may (note: "may") win a game in Miami. But for the players, coaches, and fans who truly believe that the Heat will win the next three, they must be smoking something bad. BTW, Riley deserves all this for what he did to Stan Van Gundy (God rest his soul, wherever he is)...
Posted: 11:12 PM   by Anonymous
The Mavericks have depth that no other team has. That is why they had the second best record in the West. That is why they beat the Suns. That is why they beat the Spurs. And that is why they will beat the Heat. The Little General (that's Coach Johnson for those who are just becoming aquainted with the soon-to-be NBA champs) has options. If Shaq doesn't show up, what is Riley's plan B? Alonzo Mourning???
Posted: 12:03 AM   by Anonymous
Too bad for Shaq Kobe's hogging the ball too much..Oh wait, can't blame it on Kobe this time. Darn!!!
Posted: 2:43 AM   by Anonymous
Oh, Dallas in 6, just because the NBA needs the money.

And the only way Dallas isn't a perrenial threat with this team is if Cuban goes all Steinbrenner and decides he doesn't care about the salary cap, signing a bunch of washed-up 'names'.

Don't really see that happening with realer-than-real Avery in the coaches seat...

Speaking of Johnson, he really IS the ace in the hole for Dallas. It will be interesting to see him attack the 'problem' of being defending champs.
Posted: 2:48 AM   by Anonymous
Dallas has this one in the bag, but it will go at least six games, if only because the NBA needs the money.

The only way the Mavs aren't contenders for the next five years with this team is if Cuban goes all Steinbrenner. He already doesn't care about the salary cap, so if he gets greedy and decides to sign a bunch of washed-up 'names', it could all go bad.

But I don't see that happening with realer-than-real Avery on the bench. And it should be fun to watch him attack the 'problem' of being defending champs....

~Trollificus
Posted: 7:39 AM   by Shotgun
This from a true Lakers fan from the other side of the Atlantic: I was really sick when they let Shaq go, although I did realize it was the right thing to do. Now I'm confident it was.
Gotta admit I liked Miami and their chances more before the Finals series started - not because of Shaq, but rather because of Wade and Mourning. Those two guys deserve to win. The rest of the Heat are just standing by waiting to be given championship rigns. Not gonna happen.
Cannot help but love the basketball Dallas is playing. If they can keep it like that, Miami stand no chance. Great coaching by AJ.
I do hope the Heat can get it together for a game or two; that way we get to see more Finals basketball. Besides, Dallas fans deserve to have their team get crowned at home.
Posted: 10:28 AM   by Anonymous
This series is showing just how weak the Eastern conference is. Just look at Miami's roster:
Shaq - 3 years past his prime
Payton - 4 years past his prime
Walker - never had a prime
Williams - always been overrated

So all you've really got is Wade, who is exciting to watch but can't make a shot outside 15 feet. Unless Shaq and Wade combine for 60+ points, the Heat have no chance.

You're in BIG trouble when Antoine Walker is your best perimeter shooter. They got away with it in the East, but out West you got to have at least a couple of shooters to compete...

This series will be over in 5.
Posted: 1:24 PM   by Anonymous
mr annoyed english teacher;

may i direct you to this quote:

"All this will result in a more competitive pair of contests."

unless mr dwyer wishes to imply that the heat will be swept, or he has forgotten the series format (as implied above), this is obviously a misstep on his part, and not that of the readership.

but then, an english teacher would have the reading comprehension skills to recognize that...
Posted: 2:17 PM   by Anonymous
Till the Heat can make a freaking three pointer from a pass from Shaq on consistent basis, expect the Mavs to rule every game... even if they lose one in Florida.
I can't believe that Walker can miss some of the 3-pointers that he did (he is supposed to be a sharp shooter). On one of the stupid shots that he took, the closest Maverick to him was a mile a way and he missed it from the top of the key! Needless to say, after that miss I turned off the T.V.
Hamudi, Heat fan in Des Moines.
Posted: 2:18 PM   by Anonymous
I keep hearing Heat fans say "this series isn't over". News flash....it's 50% over!

If you count the regular season, Dallas is 4-0 against the Heat. Nobody in their right mind can possibly thinkk that NOW the Heat will win 4 out of the remaining 5 games!
Posted: 2:44 PM   by ssabnor
I certainly like the Mavericks game. Good defense and solid offense. And, I believe Avery is, currently, the best coach in the NBA. Miami really looks overmatched. But as a Spur's fan, I look forward to seeing another Mavericks/Spurs match-up in the playoffs. Then we will know if it was as close as the scores indicated.
Posted: 3:28 PM   by DropThatCrackpipe
Randy S wrote: "how soon we forget the mavs were outplayed for 40 minutes of the first game, the series is far from over."

lmao @ Randy S. What game was he watching?

The Mavs were outplayed in the first quarter, but then held the Heat to 49 points for the last 3 quarters.

It's too bad that a homer's denial just won't let him admit the facts. Oh well. Shame on the mess.

Mavs in 5.
Posted: 3:39 PM   by Anonymous
As I told a coworker who happens to be a Heat fan after game 1, "The Heat are just not that good." And no team will win with A. Walker on their roster, Dallas fans already know this after having to watch him play one very long year with the Mavs. He has no idea how to play smart basketball.

With all his natural talent he still does more damage than good for his team.
Posted: 1:57 PM   by Randy S
Where are the bandwagon mavs fans now
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