Game 3 Recap and Game 4 Preview: Where Dwayne Wade Happens
Dwyane Wade and LeBron James are on the same team. It’s still hard for some to fathom. Not the fact that they are playing together but the fact that they are the top two players in the NBA.
Lurking all season in the shadow of a 6’9”, 280 pound monster named LeBron is the second scariest force in the NBA. Wade is so good that sometimes his 6’3” frame eclipses the large and more imposing LeBron James.
Let’s be clear for a moment, LeBron hasn’t been bad, he just hasn’t been LeBron. His numbers are very good for anyone else, people have just been “spoiled” to the point that they expect better. He’s averaging 20.3 points, 6.7 rebounds and 6 assists on 51.1% shooting in the finals. He also carried Miami through the three previous series while Wade was sleepwalking. Dwyane Wade has finally woken up. And he’s hungry. Starving, even. He’s momentarily become the best player on the planet, averaging an unreal 29.7 points, 8.7 rebounds, 5.0 assists, 1.7 blocks, 1.3 steals on 56.7% shooting in the Finals.
I’m not sure why people find it to be an issue when Wade outplays LeBron in a game. It is, after all, Dwyane Wade. For some of us, this is a phenomenal ”problem” to have. For others, it’s nothing more than gasoline to help drive their LeBron James book burning. I think the issue for some folks doesn’t stem from their disdain for LeBron as much as it highlights, as Kelly Dwyer pointed out last night, how underrated Wade has been for his entire career.
Dwyane Wade is the 2nd best player in basketball, and on some nights, he’s the best player in the world. That’s what makes this Miami team so lethal. It’s a combination so good that it drove LeBron to torch his own legacy to be a part of. I’m surprised that more people can’t comprehend the fact that it’s okay for LeBron to deffer to Dwyane. Did Shaq and Kobe not share the spotlight to three rings? Didn’t Kareem and Magic both win Finals MVPs? Didn’t Tony Parker hoist up his own Bill Russell Trophy as Tim Duncan was crowned with his 4th title?
These things happen because great TEAMS win titles. And great teams are littered with great talent. That’s how they get this far and that’s how they win. And last night we saw exactly why the majority of NBA fans despised this Miami trio. On any given night, anyone of the Big 3 can light you up. You don’t know who and you don’t know how, but you know for damn sure it’s going to happen.
I called Wade winning the Finals MVP coming into to this series for one reason, match-ups. LeBron has to deal with Shawn Marion, the best 1-on-1 defender Dallas has, while Wade is going at a 38-year old Jason Kidd and a 6’1” Jason Terry. Who do you think has the advantage here? Maybe we should applaud LeBron for having the basketball I.Q. to not force the action. The man is doing the exact opposite of what we grill Kobe Bryant for, he is facilitating his teams entire offense and leading them on defense, yet, for some reason, we find a problem with this. As J.A. Adande wrote today, “LeBron is in a no-win situation”. We want him to be Jordan, when he is more Magic. We want him to win rings, but we want him to be selfish in doing so. But we hate how selfish he is off the court. With Miami up 2-1, I wonder what the knock will be on LeBron if they do win the title. “LeBron let Wade lift the Larry O’Brien trophy first”?
Oh, by the way, some All-Star named Chris Bosh hit the game winner for Miami last night. Unfair? C’est la vie.
But enough about Miami, let’s get into a little Dirk-speak. The Big German almost did it again. 34 points and 11 rebounds might not be enough for this Dallas team. He’s going to have to drop a cool 40 every night for Dallas to have a chance. JJ is over matched and the Jet seems to be gassed. Shawn Marion is the x-factor and the guy that most teams double off of but he has to deal with LeBron’s recovery speed, which has been unreal, and the weary legs of covering that very same freak of nature on the other end of the court.
Spoelstra made some very good adjustments in this game after I burned him at the steak for his unwillingness to coach the final 7 minutes of Game 2. No series is over until it’s over but the winner of Game 3 when the series was tied 1-1 has won the title 11 times out of 11 series. That’s a staggering number and while historic stats don’t tell the whole story, Miami can go ahead with a little reassurance. The game of basketball is about match-ups and adjustments. Miami will always have the match-up war won because they will always have 3 of the best 4 players on the court. Now it’s on Spoelstra to make the proper adjustments to get this team in a position to win.
Let’s take a look at the Eight Factors of this game and how each team will need to adjust going forward.
1. No Rebounds, No Rings - Miami got outworked on the glass for the second straight game. I have to fault Chris Bosh for this one as much as I have to credit Dallas’ team effort. Bosh is averaging a puny 6.7 rebounds a game. Some of it comes from the nature of his playing style and some of it is due to how aggressive and menacing Dallas is in the paint. Chandler and Haywood have been bruisers all playoffs and they haven’t toned it down one bit for the Finals but for Dallas, rebounding has become a team effort. Last night Dirk and Kidd stepped in to help Tyson control the boards. Dirk, who has always been knocked for not rebounding enough, collected 11 rebounds and it’s that rebounding effort that helped Dallas stay in this game until the end.
2. J.J. Barea - I know he’s tiny in stature, but Dallas has to find him and quickly. Maybe they need to get him in the game when Bibby will have to guard him because Mario Chalmers has outplayed JJ on both ends of the court. Dallas can’t play Peja and JJ has been a non-factor so all Dallas has left on the bench is Terry. Last night Terry struggled too. Things are looking bleek if Dallas’ bench, who player starter like minutes, can’t find their groove.
3. Turnovers - Dallas had 18 assists in Game 3 and 14 turnovers. Miami, in contrast, had 20 assists and 10 turnovers. But turnovers from Dallas are more costly than those by Miami because, as Rick Carlisle, Miami turns turnovers into dunks at an amazing pace. Of course they do, they have LeBron and Wade shooting the passing lanes then throwing each other ally-oops. It’s a guaranteed highlight every single time. Kidd has to do a better job taking care of the ball.
4. Odd Lineups - Miami went with a little more conventional lineup to end Game 3, with Mario Chalmers playing for Mike Miller. By design, this position isn’t based on size, it’s simply designated to be a 3-point shooter and for this game, Mario was the one who couldn’t miss.
Spoelstra also made an obvious adjustment in Game 3 which he should have made in Game 2, he put Udonis Haslem on Dirk to close the game out. through out the game, Dirk was seeing a combination of Joel Anthony and Haslem. Joel did a good job, even blocked Dirk’s unblock-able fadaway, but it was UD that earned the right to defend Dirk in the clutch and defend he did. Dirk ended the game with an ugly turnover and a missed fadaway at the buzzer. Here’s the thing, Udonis is keeping Dirk to just 39% shooting. Everyone else has allowed Dirk to hit at a rate of 50%. I don’t think Miami will use Bosh on Dirk again.
If Haslem is the one guarding Dirk for the last few minutes of Game 2, do the Heat lead this series 3 games to none? It’s something to ponder.
5. Chandler, Marion, Haywood - Chandler was as great as he can be with a fully operational Dwyane Wade zooming around the hardwood. The issue for Dallas was that Haywood is out with an injury and Shawn Marion is struggling on offense. Although, Marion has done a good job of focusing his efforts on defending LeBron. but again, none of this matters when Wade is playing at 100% effectiveness. He can get to the cup at will and last night he did that. Miami outscored Dallas in the paint 40 to 22.
Many might find that to be odd, especially since Miami’s only big man who can score prefers 17-foot jumpers. They forget that drives and dunks are also points in the paint and Miami has a duo that are the best in the league at finishing at the rim.
6. Like A Bosh - Chris Bosh absolutely stunk for the third straight game. But he hit the game winner. So like a Bosh to do such a thing.
7. Getting Dirk’d On - Or perhaps, Miami isn’t getting Dirk’d enough. Dirk took 21 shots in this game and while that’s above his regular season and playoff averages of 16 and 18 respectively, it’s nights like this that Dirk has to carry a heavier load. If his teammates, who can be streaky shooters, aren’t going to hit their shots, Dirk’s going to have to take closer to 25 or 30 field goal attempts in a game.
I don’t think anyone would have a problem with that, especially if Dallas wins the game.
8. Free Throws - Miami is still far behind Dallas in free throw attempts in this series and I don’t think they are going to catch them. LeBron, who is crowned with more superstar calls than anyone I’ve seen in a long time, has had just 10 free throws in 3 Finals games. Some of it has to do with LeBron taking and making a lot of long jumpers. But LeBron just isn’t getting the calls in this series and it’s obvious, sometimes blatantly obvious. But that’s not here or there, both teams can’t change that or adjust for it. You live by what the officials call, or in this case, don’t call.
For Game 4, I can see Dallas coming out motivated and desperate with a fired up Dallas crowd behind them. Game 3 was a very close game, as has this series, and I don’t see that changing for Game 4.
We can expect Miami to be a little complacent considering they just won back home court advantage and have a respectable 2-1 series lead. But I expect a different outcome. I bet LeBron is going to take the idiotic question and article from some condescending reporter and use them to burn Dallas with a Wade-esque performance of his own.
Game 4 is Tuesday, 9:00PM EST on ABC. Tune in and don’t forget to follow us on Twitter.