Most people can take only so much pressure before their performance slides. Then again, most people aren’t Dirk Nowitzki. In what seemed like a reminiscence of Michael Jordan’s famous flu game, Dirk Nowitzki and his 101 degree fever stunned the Miami Heat with another 4th quarter comeback Tuesday night.
Dirk fought hard in the 4th Quarter, and the Mavs outscored the Heat 21-9 in the final 10:12 for an 86-83 victory. He looked fatigued for the majority of the game, but there was no question that he would play. Looking like he could barely catch his breath, Dirk was able to tie the Finals at 2 games each.
The grueling Heat defense held Dirk and Co. in check for most of the night, but the Mavs did not give in. Lebron mentioned in a Game 3 post game interview that the reason he wasn’t putting up higher offensive numbers is because he is taking a back seat to Wade in crunch time. Lebron stated that he felt his defense speaks for itself, and that is one thing I have to agree with. Lebron has done a phenomenal job on defense throughout the series, but I keep questioning him during the 4th quarter. If he is really the King, or wants the reputation the media has been handing him for the past 7 years, he needs to step up late in the game.
Nowitzki’s performance was far from Jordan-esque, but he did it the Jordan way, by silencing his opponent with his late game heroics. Dirk shot just 6-19, but hit 9-10 of his free throws, playing a large factor in the Mavs staying with the Heat throughout the game. Dirk finished the game with 21 points, 11 rebounds, and 3 turnovers, while playing 39 minutes.
On the other end of the floor, the Big 3 didn’t seem like the same 3 we saw in the Miami victories. Though Bosh and Wade combined for 56 points on 22-39 shooting, we did not see much of them when it mattered most. Chris Bosh didn’t score for the last 6:54 of the game, missing 2 field goals, 2 crucial free throws, and stepping out of bounds right before the Mavs started its run. Lebron had another sub-par offense performance, shooting 3-11, and only making 4 trips to the line. The most action seen from Lebron in Game 4 was his relentless attempt to draw a foul every time he got the ball. Lebron had more flops in the game than the entire Scary Movie saga.
What was most surprising about coming into Game 4 was not Lebron James being criticized for his lack of offense in the 4th. It wasn’t Chris Bosh being looked at as a Finals MVP candidate because of 1 shot. It was the trash talk coming from the Mavs. Usually a team full of players who keep to themselves and shies away from celebrations, Jason Terry made a guarantee that there would be a Game 6 in Miami (This is the same player that got a tattoo of the Larry O’Brien NBA Championship Trophy on his right bicep). Terry held true to his word, and capped the game off with 2 clutch free throws with 6.7 seconds left.
The Heat did have a chance to tie the game at the end of regulation, but Wade fumbled the ball and dished it off to Mike Miller, who shot an air ball from beyond the arc. During the regular season it was a painful site to watch the Heat during the last few seconds of a close game. The team was unsure of who would get the ball. Lebron missed a few game deciding shots in the beginning of the year. Then, he started to pass the ball off to players such as Mike Bibby, Mario Chalmers, and Mike Miller. NBA analysts debate all the time about whether Lebron or Wade should get the ball, but from what I saw tonight, I don’t think the Heat are sure of the answer to that question.
The scary reality that Miami faces is that Dallas has not played its best game yet. Yes, the past 3 games have proved that the Mavs can strike at any time, but we have yet to see them play a consistent 4 quarters. If the Mavs do end up winning this series, Game 4 will be remembered as Dirk’s fever.
Thanks again John Roman for contributing this article.
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