True Hoops

True Hoops

Friday, June 24, 2011

Kid and Play

New beginnings.

What does it mean when the number 1 pick in the draft only played in a hand full of college games and the number 3 pick in the draft played in 0? Or that the two most talked about and accomplished players in college last year were picked number 9 and 10?

Ah yes, good old fashioned american devalued education.

How about Derrick Williams? Okay, he was the Pac 10 player of the year. But honestly, did anyone hear of this guy before the NCAA tournament? And I'm not trying to hate on this dude - I actually think he might be the best player in the draft.
Check out his skills:

What will his game be like in the NBA? The guy is 6'8", 240 ibs. He is LeBron? Is he Blake Griffin. Is he Michael Beasley? Oh wait, Minnesota already has one of the those.
So how is that going to work out?

Perhaps, they'll need their other top 5 pick to spread the Love. You know, one of the most heralded rookie points guards this year. Yeah, Ricky Rubio. So who do you think will be the best this year? Irving, Walker, Fredette, or Rubio? Out the 4, Rubio certainly has the least star power, and scoring ability. But we're talking true point guard here, and while I haven't really seen Irving play that much I DID see Rubio hold his own against the U.S. team in the gold medal game a few years ago. Yes, Irving may be the next Chris Paul, but Rubio was able to hold his own against Chris Paul, and Deron Williams, and Dwayne Wade, and......

I think Rubio is probably a 10 point and 10 assist a game guy - and maybe not much better for his career. I wouldn't be surprised if he is a 8 and 8 guy. I would actually compare his game to that of Jason Kidd, the 38 year old version. But that's not exactly a bad thing - look what it did for Dallas. Maybe on a great night, Rubio can be like LeBron James - the 2011 Finals version.

I would say Rubio and Walker seem like they are the most ready to lead a team.

I originally thought Kemba Walker would have a tough time translating his game into the NBA. But I feel better about his chances all the time. The NBA has changed. It's a point guard's game now. In fact, it may be a small quick point guard's game. Look at what Jose Barea was able to do throughout the playoffs. Therefore I think Kemba is going to be just fine. And why not? How do you think Kemba feels about being drafted by Jordan? Well then again...... Will this finally be the pick that Jordan gets right? I just hope that Kemba gets a LOT of playing time. Rookies need it to develop their game. The bobcats already have D.J. Augustin so it will be interesting to see how that plays out. Good thing Larry Brown isn't coaching there anymore, that dude gives rookies no burn.

And of all the talk of Walker and Jimmer this year, especially the comparisons, isn't it fitting they were picked one after the other? (9 and 10, respectively).

I like how people tried to play Jimmer by saying that he would be a mid-first round pick.
This guy is nice and I think will flourish in the NBA. Amongst other things, the NBA is a skill league. You always need shooters. And right now, before he has even played a game as a pro, is there a better shooter in the NBA? I think Fredette will be similar to Stephen Curry. Any chance he can be like Steve Nash? (who by the way may be a better shooter).
Of course you will hear that he can't play defense, and that will be his downfall. But honestly, does anybody in the NBA play defense? Or rather, does anybody on the Kings play defense? It will be interesting to see Jimmer play with Tyreke Evans and Demarcus Cousins.
It seems Evans is at his best with the ball. Does that mean Jimmer will play off the ball?

And if you want to talk about off the ball, I have heard from many people that the NBA is fixed.
Well, is pre-NBA fixed?
Check out this Bounce magazine cover from a while back:

Shot out to Bobbito Garcia.
Next we'll see a SLAM magazine cover of Irving saying he will win rookie of the year. Or better yet, that he will win the MVP. Imagine a number 1 overall pick and point guard having the audacity to say that.

So who wins rookie of the year? Tough call.
But right now I would go with Williams.
This may be sort of like last year with John Wall and Blake Griffin. Any other year Wall wins it, he had a very good rookie year. But Blake was Blake - even on a bad team. I think the same will happen with Irving and Williams.

I would love to talk about other draft picks, but in all honesty I have no clue about most of them. I hope Imam Shumpert can play. I suppose shooting guard is the other position that the Knicks need to fill. I feel kind of bad for Landry Fields though - I wonder if he played himself out of a starting gig in their first round series agains the Celtics. The scouting report on Shumpert is that he can score, both by getting to the basket and by shooting. The report also says that he is a very good defender. Two thoughts:
1) good defender in the D'Antoni system?
2) I hope he is a good defender because I'm not sure how much his offense will shine playing with A'mare and Carmelo.

Oh wait, I have heard of another draft pick: Brandon Knight, picked 8th by Detroit. 8th pick? Relatively subpar for a Calipari kid. Although he did go further in the NCAA tournament than Evans and Wall. But not Rose. On second thought, maybe Knight wins the rookie of the year. He does have to keep the Calipari recruiting system flowing.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Dallas Delight!

Some things are worth waiting for.
Like redemption.

Although I suppose that is something you have to wait for.

How poetic was it for Dallas?
1) Beating the team which caused you to go through misery for 5 years.
2) Over coming a deficit to turn the series around - just the way you let it all slip away 5 years ago.
3) Winning on the other team's home court, just the way they did to you.
4) Winning the whole thing when no one expected you.

Let's just say you couldn't script it any better.

Surely, coming back from a 15 point deficit with 7 minutes to go in game 2 was the turning point of this series. At this point it seems as if it was almost necessary for Dallas to win it all. One Final test.
No, the Mavs didn't win three in a row after that - they just won three out of four after that.

How did they do it?
Well, Dallas was a team on a mission that had a great player, shooters, and role players. But more importantly they believed in each other. They were a bunch of veterans that banded together and believed that they could accomplish their goal. So, why couldn't they win it all?
What I love most about them was their ability to tune everyone and everything out and simply focus on themselves. To focus on the task at hand. And with the NBA playoffs being two months long, that was no easy task. It seems improbably and even irrational that Dallas is the 2011 NBA champions. Why? Let's be real, NO ONE picked them to win it all this year.

But as I eluded to earlier - belief itself can be irrational.
Although it can also be empowering.
It's the type of thing that allows you to openly state that you are desperate to get back to the Finals and that your career won't be complete without a title, as Dirk did. It's also the type of thing that enables you to get a tattoo of the NBA championship trophy on your right bicep before the season starts, the way Jason Terry did (Yes this is the 3rd time I have mentioned this, but the shear audacity of it merits multiple mentions). And because of that, Dallas just kept on coming, no matter what people said (they would lose in the first round), no matter who they faced (Lakers, Heat), and no matter the deficit. You won't find many forces more formidable.

Additionally, they had a star on their team that was just as good - if not better - than any of the three stars on Miami. Actually, a star just as good - if not better - as any in the NBA.

Dirk Nowitzki, who everyone said wasn't clutch and couldn't perform in the playoffs just two months ago, out lasted everyone en route to Finals MVP. He also happened to be the most clutch performer in these playoffs. He almost single handed won two games in the Finals for the Mavs, games that they had no business winning. And because of that, instead of Miami being up 3-1 or even sweeping - which they legitimately could have done - the series was tied 2-2. And that was really all the Mavs shooters, such as Terry and Barea, needed to catch fire for the last two games and bring it home.

The truth is that once Dirk paved the way in Dallas' first two wins, the rest on the calvary came through.

Not to mention the fact that Dirk played with torn tendon in his left middle finger, or that he played with a 101 fever in game 4. That just makes his performance in these Finals legendary.

But think about all of the moves and events Dallas went through in the last 5 years.
The Collapse in '06.
Losing in the first round as a 1 seed in '07
Not making it past the second round till this year.

How about the trade Dallas made for Jason Kidd 4 years ago, back when he was young and spry at 34 years of age. They traded a young Devin Harris, who became an all-star with the Nets the following year. And just when it looked like that move wouldn't pay dividends, look at how Kidd, at 38 years of age, was able to keep up with the likes of Russel Westbrook and Dwayne Wade on the defensive end. And what about the leadership and stability he provided for Dallas, as opposed to Mario Chalmers - who made some big shots in these Finals but also made some questionable plays (like not passing it to LeBron on a fastbreak in the 4th last night to potentially cut Dallas' lead to 5). Not to mention Kidd's clutch threes he hit in games 5 & 6.

How about the trade last year for Caron Bulter, who was injured most of the year, but also landed Deshawn Stevenson - who shot 57% from three in the finals.

How about Shawn Marion? Who averaged 14 points and 6 rebounds in the Finals. Not to mention "holding" LeBron in check (but let's be real, LeBron really held himself in check).

Or how about getting their championship pedigree from Tyson Chandler, who won a gold medal at the world championships last summer. How about the defensive swag he brought to Dallas?

What about Barea? Who had 15 points and 5 assists on 7-12 shooting last night. Did you see that move he put on Edie House in the 4th quarter to knock down a three? This guy is the smallest player on the court and literally was a difference maker for the Mavs in several games this post-season.

And what about Jason Terry. My goodness, what about Jason Terry?
Who had 27 points last night on 11-16 shooting. Not to mention having 19 points in the first half (yeah that came in handy with Dirk going 1-12 in the first half). He averaged 18 for the Finals on 49% shooting, not bad considering this guy doesn't really take high percentage shots. Think about it this way, thats more points than LeBron averaged and half a point less than Chris Bosh.
Half the time he seems crazy, all of the time he is hilarious, but something tells me thats what allows him to perform at a high level.

Looking back now, all of these moves and events served a purpose for the Mavs.

The Dallas Mavericks are a lesson in perserverance. What they have accomplished is certainly a rarity, a championship team with only one bona fide super star. But they are a lesson as to what can be accomplished by sticking together and believing in yourself and one another. Sometimes thats all you need.

They are the 2011 NBA champions.
Good for them.
They Deserve it.

Sunday, June 12, 2011


Have you seen this man?

Name: LeBron James.
Height: 6'8"
Weight: 250 ibs
Age: 26 years old
Home town: Akron, OH
Residence: Miami, FL

Occupation: The baddest basketball player on the planet.
Nickname: The chosen one

Last seen: At work in Chicago, locking up a Rose
Since then several "witnesses" are believed to have spotted him in Dallas, guarding a "jet." 
"witnesses" also said James didn't appear to be his normal self, and looked passive.

Marital status: Single. 
Additionally, when asked about James's status reporters in Dallas repeatedly said "he wasn't engaged." He does have two children.

Numbers before disappearance: 26 points, 8.9 rebounds, and 5.5 assists per game on 46% shooting (38% from three).
Team record before disappearance:12-3

Numbers after disappearance: 17 points, 8 rebounds, and 7 assists per game on 45% shooting (30% from three).
Team record after disappearance: 2-3

At first our search bureau believed reports of James' disappearance were greatly exaggerated. He did disappear temporarily earlier this year for a game in Boston and Chicago, but showed up shortly there after. Furthermore, our bureau was hesitant to classify this as a missing persons case. James's numbers are still fairly superb, especially for someone running the point. Although, because of his other-wordly talents, athleticism, and skills we are forced to take his disappearance, triple-double and all, very serious. His where abouts have tremendous ramifications for two cities and is linked to the destination of gold and diamond rings.

1) A 7 foot German shooter named Dirk. 
Detailed description indicates this man has unruly blond hair, is unshaven, and is wearing a splint on his left middle finger. We have also heard that he has been sick in the last week, or at least played like it. Sources say James and this man had competing interests over their respective "legacies." The two were said to have agreed to settle their differences in the "Finals." It is believed Dirk recently called LeBron "immature" and "ignorant."

2) Co-worker Dwayne Wade. 
Sources say the two had a Heated exchanged while in Dallas. Apparently it was over James' unwillingness to shoot. Many have questioned the ability of these two to co-exist and compliment each other at work. Initial results indicate they actually were doing just that. Wade put up 30 points against Boston while James put up 28. Actually their numbers have been similar all year and especially the last two months. Still, many are concerned there may have been some sort of rift regarding responsibility - James appeared to do most of the work in Chicago, while Wade is doing most of the work in Dallas.

3) The Media and "Haters"
Analysis of documents shows an unparalleled about of criticism and vitriol applied to James in the last 11 months. Much of it is said to stem from a "Decision" James made last July.

4) LeBron James - Run Away 
No doubt James is under a tremendous amount of pressure, and has been for quite some time. Some sources say he is afraid to fail, others say he may be afraid of success. Perhaps it has finally gotten to him. James previously had the weight on an entire franchise on his shoulders and has even admitted in the past of "needing help."

His fans and supporters across the country have left him a note:
LeBron, we love you and we miss you.
Please come home.
Things were going so well, we planned a parade in your honor.

Our team just hasn't been the same without you. We've done things we haven't done in a while, like lose two games in a row. And now we face a life or death situation - as we are on the brink of elimination.

We have left your jersey for you in your favorite place back home in Miami.
Even though at this point many people feel you are already gone, we still believe and will be waiting for you Sunday evening. At this point we don't really care how many shots you make. We just want you to be aggressive and shoot the ball. Udonis and Mario have even said that you don't need to facilitate them anymore. We just want you to play with confidence and swagger, like we know you can. Please just remember, the only person in the world that can guard you is yourself. 

We realize all of the hate you have endured all year long. But we have fought it all the way with you. So please fight through it now - just for two more games.

We appreciate the talents you brought to South Beach. And we just want you to use them to be the best of your ability and fully realize you potential  as the best player in the world. 17, 10, and 10 is nothing to be ashamed about, but we know you can do even better, especially down the stretch. You have done it before. We know you can do it now. 

Remember, with great power comes great responsibility.

We know you're out there somewhere.
Right now we need you.

If LeBron James shows up over the next few days, Miami wins.
However, if James is not found, or doesn't at least find himself, Miami loses.

Millions will remain vigilant.
We are all hoping to know more by 8:00 pm tonight.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Out-Shooting Stars

Excuse me guys, I'm doing a fly-by

I suppose it was bound to happen.

Jason Terry said so himself.

In response to his shooting woes and how LeBron James was locking him down through the first three games of the NBA Finals, Terry said:
"He has to guard me for 7 games."

Did that mean he was saying LeBron couldn't keep him in check for the whole Finals?
Uh, didn't he see how LeBron locked down Rose during the conference finals?
Crazy right?

Well, not really for someone that got a tattoo of the NBA championship trophy on his right bicep before the season even began. You have figure someone like that is gonna go all out before this series is through.

And viola!
After averaging 15 points on 39% shooting through games 1-4, Jason, the "jet," Terry literally took off in game 5 with 21 points on 66%(!) shooting.

How about this shot to seal the deal:

Talk about having no conscious.
Clutch situation with the Heat on the ropes late in the 4th.
You need to get the ball to Dirk right?

Peep the way Terry looked Dirk off and just pulled in LeBron's grill.
Actually, it was a pretty good shot, with only three seconds left on the clock.
You figure even if Dirk did get the ball he was going to have to throw up a turn-around fall away three pointer. Terry was already square to the basket - and something tells me his confidence is always high.

It was actually kind of crafty the way Terry took a dribble towards Dirk, threw a little hesitation to freeze LeBron, and then just pulled...... from deep.

Terry is the type of player that you always have to worry about as a defender.
You know, the type of guy that will just shoot from anywhere on the court, regardless of how many shots they previously made or missed.

And the problem is, you can't really press up on him - Terry was actually the Mavs best play maker on the floor last game - no offense to Kidd. Both Terry and Kidd had 6 assists for the game. But really, to honor Terry's shooting ability, Heat defenders kept pushing up on him and Terry, to his credit, blew by the initial defender to get into the lane and find teammates for open shots.

Actually, before his three to seal the game, Terry made a play to get Kidd an open three to put the Mavs up 5. And that was just as big.

To make matters worse for Miami, Terry isn't the only guy that is starting to Heat up.
Yes, the new microwave, Jose Barea seems to have found his groove as well.
Through games 1-4, Barea was averaging 7 points on 25% shooting.
In game 5, Barea scored 17 points on 55% shooting.
He also finished with 5 assists.

This is bad news for Miami.
I felt their advantage in this series was going to be their perimeter defense and therefore their ability to lockdown the Dallas shooters. Well, they essentially did that through the first 4 games - but managed to give away two of those games by squandering late 4th quarter leads. Therefore the series was tied 2-2.

Shooters keep shooting.
The more opportunities you give them, the more likely they will put the ball in the hole.
And with the series tied 2-2, that's exactly what happened in game 5.

Now, many people will say the series is going back to Miami therefore the Heat will be focused and there is no way that Dallas will shoot 57% from the field again, let alone 68% from three (yes that was their shooting percentages for game 5).
I wouldn't be too sure. Once you give a shooter confidence, the basket looks huge to them.
And let's not forget that Dallas is 3/3 in closeout games this post season.
Let's also not forget about their close-out game against the Lakers:
Terry - 32 points on 11-14 from the field and 9-10 from three.
Barea - 22 points on 9-14 from the field and 8 assists.

I'm just saying, if these guys start knocking down shots, things could get ugly for Miami.
One way or the other, these guys are going to let it fly.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Anatomy of a Finals Winner

We're taking about running plays!?
Who needs plays when you have Dwayne Wade, LeBron James, and Chris Bosh on your team?

Uh......did you see the end of game 2 of the finals?

There was almost a repeat performance in game 3.
Luckily for Miami, Dwayne Wade carried the Miami Heat in the 4th quarter last night - making big shot after big shot as Dallas was busy trying to make another comeback.

But as every good team does, Dallas made an adjustment and decided to double Wade on every possession to get the ball out of his hands down the stretch. Jeff Van Gundy was in full agreement, going so far to say "get the ball out of Wade's hands, even if that means LeBron gets it." Pretty strong words.

Well, the question was: how would Miami adjust to the adjustment?
With the ball and under a minute to go in a tie game, what sort of play would they run - knowing there was no way Dallas would let Wade operate one on one.

Let's see:

What makes certain plays great, is their ability to get an open/high percentage shot regardless of how the defense plays it. These types of plays have primary, secondary, and even tertiary options. If a play is run correctly and all the way through, one of your options is bound to become available.

Let's break down this play.
Primary option: Dwayne Wade.

But the double is coming.
So, let's put Wade in a pick and pop with LeBron.
If the defender guarding LeBron (Shawn Marion) doesn't Hedge out, Wade can turn the corner and get to the basket. If the strong side help defense (Jason Terry) comes over - put Mario Chalmers in the strong side corner, who made 4 three pointers in the game.

Still, more than likely Marion will hedge out on the screen and double:

Secondary option: LeBron James.
As Wade is doubled he will pass it back to LeBron who is set up at the foul line.

But unless you want LeBron to have an open lane to the basket - Dallas now has to send over help from the weak side - in this case it's Tyson Chandler.
Still, chances are Miami would like a one on one between LeBron and Chandler, so Marion is going to race back from Wade and double LeBron with Chandler.

Here is the beauty of the play.
Since Chandler came over from the weak side to protect the middle, Dirk is now left to guard two people on the weak side:
Udonis Haslem and Chris Bosh.
Realizing this, Haslem makes a great play by setting a screen on Dirk, thus freeing up Chris bosh for a wide open mid-range jumper.

LeBron immediately recognizes (almost as if they drew it up) and makes an amazing pass to Bosh (really it was, his body was facing the opposite direction).

The ball has now been reversed from one side of the floor to the other with Bosh primed to knockdown the eventual game winning basket.

And that my friends is your tertiary option.
And that my friends is a big 3 options to have.
Wade to LeBron to Bosh.
Advantage Miami.

Let me say this. For all the talk of the super stars Miami has, coach Eric Spoelstra has turned into one of the Heat's strengths this post-season. This play is a great example. As I've said previously, one of the most important attributes that a coach needs to be successful is the ability to make adjustments on the fly during a game.

First, think about the adjustment that Spoelstra made from the end of game 2 (no plan) to the end of game 3 (plan). Now think about drawing up this play in a pivotal game 3, on the road, with under a minute to go, during a 20 second time out. Trust me, the players aren't the only ones that are under pressure. And trust me, the ability of a coach to lead and make confident decisions in pressure situations filters down to their players.

Ultimately the job of a coach is to put his players in a position to be successful, utilize their strengths, and win the game. It doesn't matter if it's three role players or three stars. Ultimately, this play accomplished all of that.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Revenge is a dish best served with Heat

There is no way anyone will believe me.
I have no proof.
But I'll just say it anyway.

While most people probably thought last night's game was over with around 7 minutes to play and the Heat up 88-73, a thought flashed through my mind:
Wasn't this the same sort of lead, with the same sort of time remaining, that Dallas had in game 3 of the '06 finals? You know, the game where an overpowering Mavericks team was minutes away from going up 3-0 until a shocking Miami comeback turned the championship tide.

Well, with 7 minutes to go last night, weren't the roles being reversed?
So naturally, this overpowering Heat team mere minutes away from taking a commanding 2-0 series lead was primed for a shocking defeat.

Yes, down 15 in the 4th quarter, I thought  - what if Dallas returns the favor?

No seriously, I did.
That kind of thinking is just crazy, right?

But after every shot Miami clanked, that thought became more plausible.
And with every shot Dallas swished, that thought became more of a reality.
So when Dallas cut the lead to 4, I finally said it aloud: "I think Dallas is going to win this game."

Does this mean Dallas is going to win this series in 5 games?
You know, by riding the momentum of their comeback to win 4 in a row.
Well, I won't go that far......will I?

Let me repeat what I said in my previous post when previewing the Finals.
Yes, I picked the Heat to win in 6 games - and I'll stand by that.
But I also said:
"...beware of the team of destiny. sometimes rules of reason and rationale don't apply to them."

Do you believe me now?
Unless of course you think that it is reasonable Dallas would have to come back the way they did in game 2 to truly exorcise their personal demons of playoffs past.

A game like this can surely change the momentum of a series.
It can also change people's perception of it - wasn't everyone just a minute ago (or rather 7 minutes ago) saying how Dallas is dead in the water?
Of course it can't change the actual outcome of the series...... can it?

Regardless of the answer to that last one, this was the type of game that for sure can change a person.
Like me.

I will readily admit that I have been rooting for Miami this entire playoff run.
I have been rooting for LeBron as well.
I very much want to see them overcome all the hate they have received all season.
But in all honesty, all of that seems secondary now.
Watching Dallas make that 22-5 run at the end of game 2 I couldn't help but feel I was rooting for the wrong team. It made me feel like I was on the wrong side, and that wasn't just because everyone around me was pulling for Dallas.

I previously asked who needed to win this series more.
I suggested that LeBron needed it more to vindicate his Decision.
After all, Dirk is hall of fame player no matter what happens.

Dirk disagrees.
He has openly said his "career will not be complete without a championship."
Talk about putting yourself out there.
What could be more important than that?
But really, what could be more honest and thus more admirable than that?
Just seeing the Mavs battle, their unwillingness to give up, how can you not empathize with them?
How can you not want to see them be successful?

And part of it was the contrast between the Heat and Mavs demeanor.

Look at the celebratory attitude of the Heat throughout the game. Dunk after dunk, shot after shot. It was certainly was impressive. No really it was. check out this, this, this, and for good measure, this. However it seemed to change the Heat's persona from that of a us-against-the world team fighting all the ridicule to one that was boastful and irreverent of their worthy opponent. Of course all the Heat Haters out their will argue this is the reason they didn't like the Heat from the beginning, but I won't get into that.

The final straw was Wade's three in the corner - right in front of the Dallas bench - to put them up 15 with 7 minutes to go. He made sure to hold up his followthrough extra-long and stand there an extra second or two to rub it in.

Apparently Jason Terry had to be held back from going after Wade, who was busy getting playfully punched in the chest by LeBron  - who was also no doubt telling him how great he was.

A bit much.

Now compare that with the venerable effort put forth by Dallas in their comeback. In particular, think about Dirk during the run. No celebrations, no loud words, no taunts. Not even his snarl look.
That all would have consumed too much energy and that man, that team, had serious work to do.
The whole time you felt like you were watching something greater than a basketball comeback and that somehow you were a part of it. A part of some gradual process of methodical redemption.
And Dirk was just caught up in the moment, not willing to let his team down. Caught up in the determination, not willing to let his team lose.
Not this time.
By the look on his face afterwards, perhaps he transcended the game.
It was so tolling he could do nothing but raise a fist:

And for all of the talk this past week of LeBron and Jordan. If I'm not mistaken, Jordan seemed to always have his fist in the air after making big plays during his last three finals. No words, yet still able to say everything. No words, but still able to have the last say. Still able to convey his greatness.

I read that Dallas said they ran no set plays down the stretch and that enabled them to play more free.

Yeah right.

I can name at least one play they ran - it's called get Dirk the ball and get out of the way.
Seemed to have worked fine to get to this point and it seemed to work fine last night.
While Dirk's numbers for the game won't blow you away (24 points and 11 rebounds on 10-22 shooting), think about this: he had Dallas' last 9 points on 4-5 shooting.

Seriously though, no plays?
What about setting a down screen for Dirk with under a minute to go, enabling him get open for a three to put Dallas up (imagine drawing that up for your 7 foot power forward).

Did you peep Dirk's body language?
Absolutely no hesitation.
You knew, I knew, and most importantly Dirk knew once he touched the ball it was going up.
And If that wasn't a 'set play' then that was just great motion offense.
The type of motion offense where Tyson Chandler sets a screen on the ball for Jason Terry and then after Terry comes off the screen, Chandler goes and sets a down screen to free up Nowitzki.
(By the way, I absolutely love how Shawn Marion is more Hype than Dirk in the team huddle after the play).

I do believe that Miami ran no plays down the stretch.
Unless of course by plays you mean LeBron taking fall away contested threes, and Wade taking a contested three as well - the one time he touched the ball in the final 7 minutes, after having 36 points in the first 39 minutes.

But who needs plays?

Okay, maybe you don't when you have an isolation for Dirk with under 30 seconds to go.
That was just pure greatness:

Can we just break this move down for a second?
1) Dirk catches the ball at the three point line.
2) He dribbles hard right then spins to his left to get to the elbow area.

We all know Dirk's spin is incredibly effective. But here is where it gets interesting.
The scouting report on Dirk must be that he uses multiple spins and fakes to get to his off balance step back jumper. In fact I had it in a recent post. Chris Bosh had to be expecting that.
So what did Dirk do?

3) slight hesitation to get Bosh to contest
4) instead of the step back, a change of speed and hard dribble with the left to get by Bosh and to the basket to finish with his left
And that would be the left hand that has a torn tendon in it's middle finger.

I won't mention the fact that Terry set a down screen to get Nowitzki the ball and then spotted up in the strong side corner so LeBron couldn't help off him.

I will point out how the entire Mavs team, staff, trainers, and seemingly even random strangers were all coming up to Dirk after the game to give him dap, and hitting him in the chest to not only let him know how bad he was, but how much they needed that and how much they are in support of him. That seemed to be a little more moving to me than the Wade-LeBron exchange.

And Again, look at Dirk's face. It's as if he just came back from an out of body experience. A look of a hero who used up his entire resources to save the day. Back from transcendence, just in time for cognition of what just transpired. It was also a look of "I told you I won't let you guys down."

I felt something coming into this series. And I feel it a little more after game 2.
To paraphrase former Steeler coach Bill Cowher when he predicted the Saints would beat the Colts in the super bowl a couple of years ago:

Who will win the Finals?
My mind says Miami, but my heart says Dallas.

Let me say it one more time:

"...beware of the team of destiny. sometimes rules of reason and rationale don't apply to them."

You know what else sometimes doesn't apply to the rules of reason and rationale?

And belief also happens to be a driving force that can be inspirational and, when resolute, extremely difficult to defeat. Dallas is a team that believes. They believe in themselves and they believe in each other. Most importantly, they believe they can win the whole freakin' thing.

So who's to say they can't?

Believe this, Miami will have to win this series. They are going to have to take it from Dallas.
And know this, there is nothing more dangerous than a team that is confident, a team that believes, and a team that will never stop fighting.

Not to mention a team that has Dirk Nowitzki and the next three games in their home court.

Now the fun begins.