Bibby was less of a factor in Game 4 than he's been in the rest of the series. He failed to score, dished out one assist and missed his only shot attempt. You can't get such mediocre production in 16 minutes from a starter and expect to win. Bibby might not have been the reason the Heat lost, but he didn't help them win either.
Wade was spectacular once again on both ends of the floor and was the reason the Heat had a chance to win in the end. He was a magnet to the ball, scoring many of his points by simply being active rather than working the offense. Just look at his spectacular fourth-quarter sequence, when he blocked 7-foot-1 Tyson Chandler with the Heat up 76-73, then trailed on the fast break and took a feed from James for a layup over 7-foot Dirk Nowitzki. Wade keeps inventing offensive options for the Heat. His fumble on the final play cost Miami a chance at the win, but it wouldn't have been in that position without him.
Anthony was active throughout the first half, and his rebounding in the first quarter (he grabbed four of the Heat's nine offensive boards) helped Miami keep the game tight despite a poor shooting start. Trouble is, Anthony disappeared in the second half, picking up two fouls while failing to score or grab a rebound. Anthony doesn't need to put up big numbers, but the Heat need him to be consistently active throughout the game.
James is finding that there is a fine line between being an effective facilitator and a passive performer. In this case, James' seven assists helped set up Wade and Bosh, who had effective stretches that, for a time, was enough to carry the Heat's offense. But when Bosh struggled in the second half, James didn't show initiative to fill that offensive void. He took only 11 shots in the game, made only 2-of-7 in the second half and went scoreless in the final period. James doesn't need to score if his remarkable passing skills can keep the offense moving through other players. But when those other options break down, James needs to recognize that it's time for him to resume his role as one of the team's primary scorers. He failed his team in that area Tuesday night.
Bosh turned around his struggles from Game 3 in impressive fashion by attacking the basket early, drawing contact and showing confidence in his shots. Rather than wait for kickouts, Bosh moved aggressively to the rim on pick-and-rolls and was quick to the ball to tip in a Wade miss from high in the lane in the first half. He faded in the second half, hitting only one of seven shots, but his overall game was a positive sign that he's playing with poise again.
Mario Chalmers continued to be a key playmaker off the bench with six assists and three steals, but the lack of offensive production hurt the Heat on a night when every point was valuable. The reserves combined to make just two shots in the second half, Mike Miller missed a layup that could've tied the game with a little more than two minutes remaining, and none of the reserves scored in the final 10 minutes.
Erik Spoelstra, Head Coach
Spoelstra had the Heat attacking the basket once again and playing aggressively around the rim for most of the game. Then came the fourth quarter, when the Big Three combined for nine points and another fourth-quarter meltdown led to a tied series. There was no movement in the offense, no solutions for Dallas' zone and horrible execution on the final possession.
Barea's move to the starting lineup brought some life back to his game. Although finishing plays continued to be troublesome for him (see that blown layup late in the first half), Barea was more productive Tuesday night than he's been at any point in the series. He still had to battle for every shot he made against the quick and athletic Heat, but his insertion into the lineup was an upgrade from DeShawn Stevenson.
Kidd did a solid job defensively with three steals, but Game 4 was a low point offensively. He hadn't gone scoreless in a game since early April, and his three shot attempts were his fewest since the Western Conference Finals opener against Oklahoma City. Kidd usually makes up for the lack of shots through his offensive orchestration, but not only were his three assists his fewest since Game 3 of the first round, but Tuesday's game was also the first time he had more turnovers than assists since Game 3 against the Blazers.
Chandler continues to come up huge, and he only seems to get stronger as the series wears on. Nine of his game-high 16 rebounds came on the offensive glass -- a monumental advantage in such a grinding game -- and he fought relentlessly around the glass, pulling down five rebounds in the final 5:45, getting several put-backs and getting to the free-throw line eight times. His high ball-screens also helped the Mavericks' guards penetrate effectively into the paint.
Marion bounced back from a passive Game 3 with the type of aggressive performance that has made him an efficient second option. Marion has been at his best in this series when he puts the ball on the floor and attacks the rim, as he did in the third period when the Mavericks gave him the ball on the wing with five seconds on the shot clock. Marion drove hard into the lane on that play against LeBron and extended for a banked runner. Dallas needs to count on that type of creativity from Marion in order to win this series.
Nowitzki may have struggled with his shot while battling a fever, but he came up with the important shot when the Mavericks needed it. His driving layup on Udonis Haslem with 14.9 seconds remaining to extend the Mavs' lead to 84-81 was his best offensive play since sinking his first three shots to open the game. Dirk remained active and effective, and though his performance wasn't at the same level as he's shown in the rest of the series, it was enough to get the win.
The Mavericks had their best bench performance of the series, though it came with a different cast. DeShawn Stevenson played more as a reserve in Game 4 than he had as a starter in the previous three games and had his best performance of the series, sinking three three-pointers for 11 points. And Jason Terry answered critics of his clutch play by scoring 17 points, making three steals and handing out three assists. Those two combined for Dallas' highest reserve point total of the series.
Rick Carlisle, Head Coach
Carlisle was a busy guy on Tuesday, shifting Barea into the starting lineup, adjusting his rotation to work with the defensively challenged Peja Stojakovic out, subbing Terry in early and using Brian Cardinal more to give Marion extra rest. And it all worked. Barea benefitted from a favorable matchup against Bibby, Stevenson brought needed production off the bench and Marion bounced back from an off game. Carlisle's switch to the zone in the fourth quarter also threw the Heat out of rhythm and helped the Mavericks to a masterful defensive performance in the final period.
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