June 2006 - Posts
Let's get this out of the way first: Congratulations to the Miami Heat for winning the franchise's first NBA title in history. Dwyane Wade was spectacular again, and walked away with his first title and the Finals MVP trophy (much deserved). It's clear that Shaq is no longer the dominant force in the league and Wade is establishing himself as one of the elite players in the game. He elevated his game to another level in the NBA Finals.
There were questionable calls at the end of the game, such as Wade's elbow to the face of Dirk Nowitzki, or the holding call on Jason Terry's final shot (Payton holding jersey). Arguing these incidents is futile, but I think it's pretty clear that the referees have been giving the Heat the benefit of the doubt on all calls since at least Game 4.
Now to the juicy stuff... Miami DID NOT deserve to win the championship in 6 games.
I have no problems with any of the games except Game 5, which the referees single-handedly handed to the Heat via the charity stripe. Game 3 was a blown opportunity for the Mavs; they had the Heat on the ropes and blew it. No argument there... In Game 6, the Mavs again failed to deliver when it counted and ended up w/out their first championship or a Game 7. This series should be 3-3 right now w/ a Game 7 on Thursday - instead, Miami wakes up this morning w/ a new trophy in their grasp.
Game 5, based on the number of foul shot attempts alone, is a horrid example of the referees making calls for one team over another. I watched the majority of the game and Dallas was no-less aggressive at attacking the basket as the Heat were. Dwyane Wade played great, but 25 free throws for him compared to just 25 for the entire Mavs squad? Give me a break. Dallas was employing the Hack-A-Shaq strategy, but that only led to O'Neal visiting the stripe 12 times. I recall only 5 specific instances where they grabbed Shaq on purpose before he even had the ball (that's 10 of 12 foul shots).
I don't know the stats well enough, but I'll bet a team shooting 65% from the free throw line hasn't beaten a team shooting 84% (over 15 free throws minimum). The refs simply put Wade on the line enough to keep the Heat in the game. The Mavs kept fouling Shaq, but he shot 2 for 12... how could they stay in the game w/ him missing all those FT's? Again, put Wade on the line enough times (he is their best FT shooter), stop the clock, and watch the Heat catchup.
Had the referees not put the Heat on the line (2-to-1) for the game, there's no way that Miami is even in the game and Dallas wins it. The series should be 3-3 w/ a Game 7 in Dallas.
I have no bias for either team - had Miami been playing anyone else (except Suns) I would've been rooting for them. Had they won w/out the questionable referee involvement, I would be happy for the Heat and wouldn't say a word.
Mark Cuban had some things to say after the loss... I think he played it safely because he is an NBA owner and could risk losing his team or other consequences if he crosses the line too far.
Just an honest sports fan's opinion... Go Suns in 2006-2007.
It's been a few years since an NBA Finals matchup actually intrigued me enough to try and watch every game of the series... the Dallas Mavericks vs. the Miami Heat in this years final round of the playoffs is one of those.
Both teams are fast-paced, equipped with a full-bench of bodies, and like to play defense on occasion.
I look for the Mavs to enlist the hack-a-Shaq fouling method that they made famous back in the late 90's when Shaq was with the Lakers. The Mavs will have no answer for Dwyane Wade, as most teams don't so they'll have to contain Shaq and the other role players for the Heat.
I can't see the Heat matching up with Dirk Nowitzki at all, so he should have an MVP-type playoff series. Antoine Walker and Udonis Haslem will likely be matched up on him, but neither is tall enough or quick enough to stop Dirk from going off. Jason Terry is going to be a tough responsibility for Wade and Miami's backcourt, but they should be able to slow him down if they throw more than one body at him when he brings the ball up the court.
Game 6 didn't start out in Dallas' favor, but it sure turned quickly in the 2nd half as the Suns 7-man rotation ran out of juice. Phoenix couldn't miss in the 1st quarter and led by double digits after only a few minutes. The heavy playoff schedule for the Suns doomed them in the end I think, as did their strategy to only use 2 players off the bench.
Raja Bell plays good “D” and has been the Suns best 3-pt shooter, but when he can't even run a fastbreak and puts Nash in jeopardy of an injury, that's just not right. Eddie House could've come in and provided a spark and they had Pat Burke, Brian Grant and Kurt Thomas on the bench when they could've been out there bully-ing Josh Howard and Dirk Nowitzki.
The Suns had a terrific run in the playoffs... if you picked them to go this far, you're lying. With Amare Stoudemire coming back at full-strength next season (cross your fingers), the future is bright. Phoenix's starting lineup will be an imposing one next season that's for sure... I wonder where Boris Diaw fits into the picture.
Looking forward to the offseason moves the Suns make and next year !!!!
Fresh off a 13 point outing against the Suns in Game 4 of the Western Conference Finals, Dirk Nowitzki put on a show Thursday night, scoring 50 pts including 22 in the 4th quarter. Of course the Suns only managed 20 pts in the 4th, so they ended up on the losing end of a 117-101 game. Nowitzki's 50 pts tied Kobe Bryant for this postseason's game high.
Tim Thomas had a great game, but was ineffective in the 4th quarter for the Suns, taking only one shot - he finished with 26 pts. Both Shawn Marion and Steve Nash finished with a double-double, scoring over 20 points a piece. Raja Bell, still playing with the calf injury, finished with only 3 points in 29 minutes.
Phoenix will need a strong turnaround in Game 6 to get even with Dallas and force Game 7, luckily they'll be on their homecourt to try and get the win. Bell will need to play much better if D'Antoni is going to play him a lot of minutes, and if everyone else does what they've been doing, we should come out victorious.