Now, the Dallas Mavericks will have to win at least one more game in Miami to win their first NBA Championship. After dropping a nail-biter to the Heat last night, the Mavericks find themselves in a 2-1 hole heading into Game 4. Dirk Nowitzki was phenomenal per usual, scoring 34 points to go along with 11 boards, but he missed a last-second jumper that would have sent the game to overtime. That being said, Nowitzki was hardly to blame. His teammates, on the other hand, deserve a ton. Only 2 other Mavericks –Marion(10 pts.) and Terry (15 pts.) – even hit double-digits in scoring.
With their backs against the wall heading into Game 4, the Mavericks will need more from their supporting cast if they’re going to make a legitimate run at the title. Guys like Barea, Chandler, and Stojakovic have to give the Mavs more production on the offensive end if they’re going to beat the Heat. Barea showed flashes in this game, but he still missed routine layups and jump shots that we had become accustomed to seeing him make in the past series (both against OKC and the Lakers). Meanwhile, Stojakovic has been just terrible (or as Barkely would say, “turrable”). We know he’s a defensive liability, but man-oh-man, it’s like we can’t play the guy without giving away free layups to ‘Bron or Wade. And, HE CAN’T EVEN KNOCK DOWN OPEN JUMP SHOTS. As for Chandler, we simply need more out of him. What happened to the alley-oop dunks Chandler was getting? I know he was more exhausted than usual in this game, since the Mavs didn’t have Haywood and Mahinmi was attempting to set the NBA Finals record for quickest foul-out in a game, but still…
After Game 2, I was relieved, as most Mavs fans were, but I thought we would come out with a renewed sense of energy in Game 3. That, however, was hardly the case. And Nowitzki warned us all that Game 2 meant nothing if the Mavs were to come out and lose Game 3 (putting the momentum back in Miami’s corner). Still, though, it was the Heat, not the Mavericks, that came out looking like the team that had completed one of the greatest comebacks in NBA Finals history. Wade and LeBron were slashing early, while the Mavericks were settling for jump shots while playing atrocious defense. It wasn’t until late in the 3rd quarter that the Mavs really committed to playing good defense, doubling on Wade and forcing other players to make shots.
Look, I think the Mavs have the pieces to win this thing, but they’re going to have to play better defense and not rely so much on Nowitzki. Nowitzki has been brilliant all playoffs, but he’s not Super Man, he can’t do everything. The reason the Mavericks dismissed the Lakers and Thunder in a routine fashion had more to do with their solid D and bench effort than Nowitzki. Don’t get me wrong – Nowitzki was phenomenal then and he is now (and he’s no doubt the MVP of the 2011 NBA Playoffs), but if the Mavs want to win, they’re going to have to score and play by committee.
Let’s be realistic. Game 4 is a MUST WIN game for the Mavericks. If they go down, 3-1, they’ll at best be down 3-2 going into Miami, and there’s no way they can win 2 in a row on the road against this team. The Mavs have to focus on starting games off better, not giving up big leads and having to play from behind. Sure, they’ve had their share of incredible comebacks this playoffs, but trust me, that’s not something they want to do.