Whoops, kinda checked out there for Games 2-4. To make up for it, here are my random thoughts on the series so far:
1. Where on earth did LeBron go in Game 4? He refused to attack the basket, settled for 3-pointers and didn't seem all that engaged on defense. I've defended him through thick and thin these last few years, but Game 4 was terrible. He shows up in any way, shape or form on Tuesday and the Heat win, go up 3 games to 1 and have a 99.9% chance of winning the series. Instead, LeBron seems entirely disinterested. I don't get it. I have read arguments that he's just tiring out... he's averaging 44 minutes per game in the playoffs, and getting virtually no rest in the second halves of these games.
2. You can't allow game-winning layups in the NBA. You especially cannot allow them in the Finals. If I'm coaching Miami, I send help as soon as Dirk makes a move towards the hoop in that situation. I don't think he's a good enough passer to find the open guy, and once he's barreling in there I think the help man can pick up a charge.
3. Can we stop anointing NBA players who have a good game while sick? Yes, Michael Jordan destroyed the Jazz in the Finals while he apparently was on his deathbed. And yes, Dirk had a fever with a cough on Tuesday. He shot 31% from the field, however. Yes, going 9-10 from the line and hauling in 11 boards was nice, but it wasn't exactly a superhuman performance.
4. Remember when I wrote that Miami's lack of an actual offensive system would hurt them eventually? I figured it would catch up to them sooner than now, but the day has arrived. Miami's continual fail over the last 5-10 minutes of the fourth quarter is killing them. If their offensive ineptitude isn't costing them games, it's letting the Mavs get into a position to potentially win.
We'll start with a basic play-by-play of Miami's offensive possessions over the final six minutes and 50 seconds (of Game 4):
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.
Bottom line, when it's crunch time, the Heat are falling apart. That's gotta change.
5. Dear Chris Bosh: It was nice of you to show up for the first half of Game 4. But would it kill you to score in the second? Dude was terrible, taking really long jumpers and turning it over in the fourth.
6. Dear Mike Miller and Mario Chalmers: Your jobs are to hit open 3-pointers. That is it. If you go a combined 2-8 from deep, you might as well not be there.
7. Deshawn Stevenson, what has happened to you? You shot a very meh 37% from deep during the regular season, but in the Finals you're hitting fully 56.3% of your attempts from out there. 56%! Your form is ugly and I never expect the ball to go in, but wow are you on fire.
8. Mr. Barea, congratulations on scoring 8 points on 3-9 shooting. This was by far your best showing in the Finals... apparently the Heat play better defense than the Lakers, eh?
9. Finally, way to step into the Wayback machine, Shawn Marion. You're averaging 15.5 points, 6.5 rebounds and a block per game, while shooting 52% from the field and 90.9% (!) from the line. You're playing much, much better than I expected you to. If the Mavs win this thing, they should give you an extra big piece of the Credit Pie.
Before Game 4, I believed the Heat were winning the series in 6. But now, with the incredible Shrinking LeBron/Miami offense and the continued great play of Marion, I honestly have no idea who will walk away with the trophy.
Let's say Miami in 7. I can't imagine the Heat will fail this much down the stretch for two of the next three games.