Bibby is a veteran and won't do anything to lose a game for the Heat. But he isn't doing much to help them win right now either. It's hard to justify 19 minutes in an NBA Finals with the kind of production he had, particularly if Mario Chalmers continues to play well.
Wade made it obvious that he will win this series for Miami if it will give him that opportunity. Dallas, at some points, had three players tracking Wade to force the ball out of his hands. Yet he was still prolific, whether it was dribbling behind his back and splitting two defenders for a layup, pulling down three offensive boards while leading his team in rebounding, or blocking Jason Terry in the backcourt and converting it into a fast-break dunk. Oh, and he didn't commit a single turnover.
Anthony doesn't need to score if he can be active like he was early in the third quarter, when he blocked Dirk Nowitzki's shot, then ran the floor and positioned himself to take a fast-break feeder pass for an easy layup. Those activity plays are where Anthony adds value, and they make his ho-hum stat line at first glance a valuable night on the floor.
If Wade is going to carry the Heat to a championship, then James needs to play the way he did Sunday night, embracing a role as facilitator rather than primary scorer. James' 14 shots were his fewest attempts in a Finals game, but he delivered nine assists, four of which came in the fourth quarter. NBA coaches have said they fear James' passes more than his shots, and this is an ideal time for him to capitalize.
Eye injury or not, Bosh looks lost on the court in this series. He isn't making aggressive moves to the basket consistently, and too many of his shots are coming off kickouts that move the offense away from the rim. That might work when a spreading forward like Bosh is making shots. But he has yet to shoot 40 percent in a game in this series (he shot 39 percent in Game 3, his highest yet) and what's worse, he has gone to the free-throw line only nine times in the last two games. If shots aren't going down, coaches like to see players go to the rim aggressively to try to draw contact. But Bosh's shot selection has been too passive, making his shooting struggles (along with only three rebounds and no blocks on Sunday) even more problematic for the Heat. And his game-winning jumper can't take away from that fact.
As great as Wade played, Miami won this game because of its bench. Chalmers' four three-pointers (one of which came after a possible backcourt violation at the end of the first period) provided the extra offensive threat that Dallas couldn't account for, and Udonis Haslem capped a solid overall game with brilliant defensive work on Nowitzki on the game's final play. Not only did Haslem meet Dirk's drive one-on-one on that play, but he kept the prolific Mavericks scorer in front of him (are you paying attention, Chris Bosh?) and forced Dallas' best offensive option into taking a fadeaway at the buzzer -- the lowest-percentage shot the Heat could hope to see Nowitzki attempt.
Erik Spoelstra, Head Coach
Spoelstra showed he learned the proper lessons from Game 2. Miami took only 19 three-pointers Sunday night while scoring 40 of its 88 points in the paint by capitalizing on its one-on-one advantage with Wade and James, who consistently got to the rim and never turned themselves into one-dimensional perimeter shooters the way they did at the end of Game 2. Spoelstra also made a good adjustment on Nowitzki at the end of the game by defending him with Haslem rather than Bosh, who gave up the winning basket in Game 2.
Kidd wasn't spectacular offensively, but he showed the steady form that made him so effective for Dallas earlier in the playoffs. He filled up the stat line with six rebounds, including one off his own missed three-pointer in which he fed Nowitzki from under the basket for a three late in the second quarter. Kidd committed four turnovers, but many of those came while trying aggressively to create plays.
Stevenson isn't expected to be a primary contributor, but he didn't contribute much of anything in Game 3. He made his only shot attempt, but it's tough to justify your time when you're getting out-scored at your position 29-3. So it came as no surprise that Stevenson played only 1:34 in the second half. The Mavericks need more from this position in order to stay competitive in this series.
Chandler affected this game far more than his stats indicate. Bosh deserves some criticism for his shot selection, but you also have to consider the effect Chandler, who had three blocks on Sunday, is having on those decisions. His physical presence helped Dallas win the rebounding battle (42-36) for the second straight game, and his seven offensive boards helped the Mavericks get 10 second-chance points.
This is how rough things got for Marion: He was subbed on the final possession for Peja Stojakovic, who has made only one shot in the series. Marion couldn't seem to find a rhythm in Game 3, and many of his eight misses came on shots that looked forced. He stayed active with three assists and four rebounds, but the Mavericks desperately needed him to be their second option to pull pressure off Nowitzki.
The only thing Nowitzki didn't do in Game 3 was hit his second consecutive game-winner, which he had a chance to do. He had a game-high 34 points and tied for game-highs with 11 rebounds and three blocks. But he also scored 15 of Dallas' 22 fourth-quarter points, including its last 12 in the final 5:46. Nowitzki is doing everything in his considerable power to will Dallas to a championship.
Keep in mind that Terry skews the curve on this grade as the rest of the Mavericks' bench is failing in this series. And their options got worse on Sunday when backup center Brendan Haywood was forced to sit out with a hip injury and his replacement, Ian Mahinmi, contributed only five fouls in eight minutes. J.J. Barea, who has been tremendous at other points in these playoffs, has been contained by Miami's defense throughout the Finals, while Stojakovic offered nothing -- offensively or defensively ? in Game 3.
Rick Carlisle, Head Coach
Considering what Carlisle has to work with, even having a shot to win on Sunday was spectacular. Carlisle made the right move to trap Wade on pick-and-rolls and force the ball out of his hands in the final minutes, and Carlisle's defensive adjustments did a solid job of containing Miami's dribble penetration. There were no heroes to be found on the bench, and by the end he had one reliable offensive option (Nowitzki). Remarkably, it was almost enough.
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