Every morning, we compile the links of the day and dump them here… highlighting the big storyline. Because there's nothing quite as satisfying as a good morning dump.
They’re running on a fearsome blend of ferocious defense and spectacular shot-making in fourth quarters. This is everyone’s worst nightmare in the NBA come to life. Together, James and Wade had 46 points, 19 rebounds and 11 assists. Chris Bosh had 19 points and nine rebounds. The Heat’s stars come hard, come unforgiving and come again and again.
Pity poor Dirk Nowitzki, who suddenly could be playing the Finals straight man again. After 27 excruciating points, Nowitzki marched to his interview podium, held up his left hand and revealed a swollen finger with a bandage wrapped tightly. He tore a tendon in his off-hand, and everything gets harder for the Mavericks now. The way the Heat defended the Mavericks, the way they took away Dirk’s supporting cast one by one, Jason Terry and J.J. Barea and Peja Stojakovic.
James played problem-solver for Miami, moving onto Terry, and Nowitzki and shutting down scorers, squeezing shooters wherever he exerted himself. From the Chicago Bulls to the Dallas Mavericks now, the pattern is unmistakable. The Heat’s defense is where MVPs – past and present – come to get swallowed up, spit out and left feeling like they’re all alone on the floor. There are no excuses for the Mavericks to get beaten so badly on the boards, including 16-6 on the offensive end. No excuses to get beaten to so many loose balls. To beat Miami now, to hold back three stars in their primes, those are necessities.
You'd think my hatred for the Heat would be enough motivation to make me stay up and cheer on the Mavericks. But that hatred is offset by the realization that Dallas does not have a chance in this series. No. Chance.
If you told me Dallas would make 40% of their 3s and take 32 free throws, I would have bet big on the Mavs. But Miami's defense didn't give them anything easy. And when the Heat are dominating the boards and their bench is scoring 27 points, you can't beat them.
Now Dirk has a torn tendon. Someone please give me a reason to be optimistic.
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(Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images)