Wade suffered a left-hip contusion that sent him to the locker room briefly in the first quarter, and further treatment at halftime kept him there until 4:33 remained in the third. Wade had been leading Miami throughout the series, and with his diminished capacity his teammates weren't able to invent a new way to win. "With him being out, we just try to do the same thing as if he was in," James said.
James may be the only player in history who can be criticized after producing a triple double of 17 points, 10 assists and 10 rebounds. But he was 8 of 19 from the field overall and 1 of 4 in the fourth, when he was outscored 8--2 in his matchup with Terry. "I've been a guy in the fourth quarter [the Mavs] depended on to either make plays or make shots," said Terry. "Thank God I was able to do that again tonight."
For 92 energetic seconds in that fourth quarter, the Heat looked as if it had put together its own winning formula by pairing Mike Miller and Haslem with the Big Three, who spread the floor to release Haslem for a couple of layups during a 9--2 run. Wade drained a three-pointer to give Miami a 99--95 advantage with 4:37 left, but with Terry reinserted into the game Dallas went on to score 12 of the next 15 points.
The Mavericks moved the ball around the three-point line, they up-faked when a Miami defender closed out hard and ran out of the play and then either recirculated the ball, shot the three or stepped inside to attack the defense five-on-four. That's the kind of sequence that decided the game.
If James and his teammates hoped to stop their opponents from taking the championship, they would have to stop defaulting to their offensive playbook. Maybe it would mean James posting up and bulling his way to the hoop to get to the foul line. Maybe it would mean diving to the floor and trying to recover every rebound and block every shot near the basket. That's how championships are won—the prettiness recedes, and the talent gives way to something else.
June 12, at Miami
Mavericks 105, Heat 95
ONE WAS ARRIVING. THE OTHER WAS LEAVING. In each case, the clothes described the man.
Nowitzki had on a champagne-soaked white T-shirt and a championship cap that he wore as if he were a 12-year-old in a fireman's hat. He walked down the hallway of the enemy arena with a champagne bottle in his right hand and the Finals MVP trophy upside down in his left. He was the one who had arrived.