11 Questions and 10 Answers about the 2011 NBA Finals So Far
I’ve been a little bit behind on my NBA Finals blogging lately. Most of this is because I’m traveling all over the place trying to get a job. But don’t worry, there is plenty to say before Game 4 starts, and I’m about to say all of it right now.
11 Questions and 10 Answers about the NBA Finals
1. How close is this series to over?
That’s a good question, because every story that I’ve read would seem to indicate that the remaining games are just a sort of unfortunate formality. I don’t know how this is possible. After three games, there is no possible way to make a series closer than 2-1, that’s just math. And both of the last two games have come down to the last shot. Actually, Game 1 was close too. It’s true that the Heat have been leading for a considerable amount of time in the three games combined, but in reality that doesn’t mean anything. I don’t know how anyone can watch this series and think it’s over.
2. Is this a must-win game for Dallas?
There is no such thing as a must-win game. People know how the best-of-seven format works, and to tell us that a Game 4 in a 2-1 series is a must-win is pretty insulting to the general fan’s understanding of how to count to four. The truth is that if Miami wins this game, then Dallas would have to win three in a row. Which hasn’t happened before. It doesn’t mean it can’t, it means that sports journalists really need something to talk about.
3. Yeah, but the stats say that the team that wins game 3 wins the series a whole bunch of times?
The stats say that the team that wins each game is likely to win the series. It bothers me that all these news outlets have several members of the staff whose primary job is to find stats that are relevant and still stats like this consistently make headlines. Statistically, the team winning Game X is more likely to win the series, but that in no way is a product of winning that particular game, it’s due to an entirely separate factor that I’ll call “being a better team.” In a contest to win the most games, it’s pretty obvious that a team that wins a game has a better chance to win more games than the team that doesn’t win that game. Still, with all of these data available, nothing is a guarantee. If a team is down 0-3 and needs to win four in a row, it’s possible. That’s why they play the games.
4. Why does ESPN make every NBA Finals story about LeBron?
That’s a fantastic question. ESPN has significantly crossed the line from news provider to personal promoter in the case of LeBron. I watched their shows filled with talking heads the day after Game 3 and they had five or six talking points about LeBron’s 17-point performance and exactly 0 about Dwyane Wade taking over the game. Exactly 0 about Dirk’s 34 points in a losing effort. It’s filthy how much ESPN has profited on their un-journalistic coverage of LeBron, and if you don’t already consider SpreeGoogs to be a place where you can complain about seeing him on every cut-in or cut-out of game action, it is and now you know. Or you can complain about seeing every one of his field goals on SportsCenter the following day. Or you can complain about the announcers only talking about him and neglecting the other nine players. He’s on ESPN so much because that network has an invested interest in making him into the next basketball savior and will go as far as it can to make sure people watching the game think he is the second coming of Jordan. It should be illegal. Today Cowherd said that knowing when to let other players make the plays is what makes him the best player in the game. By that Logic, we should all be celebrating Ron Harper for his five NBA rings that he masterfully let Jordan win for him.
5. Do you have anything to say about all the flopping going on in these playoffs?
I sure do. First off, it isn’t just going on in the Finals. It’s been something that has been happening on every team throughout all rounds of the playoffs and it’s just disgusting. Announcers love to say things like “selling it well” or “creating contact” but everyone knows what’s going on and no one likes it. It is definitely a problem in the NBA right now because there are 10 players on the floor and a team of only three officials. There is always going to be something going on that no official can see, and the players are taking advantage of that. All of these players need to stop complaining and just start playing basketball. On a related note, at the beginning of the year, there were technical fouls issued for any player that protests a call, yet the three biggest players in this series protest every call without penalty. The rule change was stupid, but enforcing it selectively is even worse.
6. Do the broadcasters or reporters know that Dallas is playing in this series?
This is the question I can’t answer. I really don’t know if they are aware. The announcers are open and obvious about wanting the Heat to win so badly that they don’t talk about the opposing team at all. Watch the game and tell me I’m wrong.
7. How about Udonis Haslem playing defense on Dirk at the end of Game 3? How much is his defense winning this series for the Heat?
Udonis Haslem did play some excellent defense on Dirk during the final Dallas possession. But let’s also not forget that Dirk still scored 34 points in this game. The Heat are playing some great team defense, but in reality, the total points scored for this series through three games is Miami 273-Dallas 265, both teams are playing good defense. Things are hard for both teams on the offensive end, and to this point the difference in this series (only a net of 8 points) is that Dwyane Wade has been able to create more than Dirk has. Haslem has a tough job on defense, but I’m never going to say that a guy whose man scored 34 won the game on defense. In truth, both LeBron and Wade had turnovers that went coast to coast and turned into points, which seems like a bigger contribution.
8. Where is Dallas’ bench?
This is a particularly sore subject for a lot of Mavs fans, because Jet, Peja, Barea and pretty much all of the Dallas bench have been irrelevant in this series. And they’re going to stay that way. With at least one day off and sometimes two in between games, there’s no reason for Miami to rest its star players more than a few minutes each game, which leaves the Dallas backups playing against a similar defense as the first team. That turns into a bunch of bad news for the Mavs. I don’t expect the Dallas bench to turn things around much in Game 4. The better hope is probably that Kidd, Marion and the rest of the first-stringers start helping Dirk some more.
9. What’s the story with Chris Bosh’s eye?
I can’t say how bad it is because I’m not Chris Bosh. But I’ve been poked in the eye before, and it was better almost immediately. It’s a scientific fact that the eye is the fastest-healing body part, so Bosh can thank the Lord for making us that way. For anyone who saw him go to the ground clutching at his head like he just got punched, please join me in a moment of mocking how weak he is. Sure he did make the shot that sealed the game for the Heat, and I don’t want to take that away from him. But he is weak, and the eye thing is proof positive.
10. What does each team have to do tonight to win?
Miami needs to keep d-ing up everyone on the Mavericks that isn’t Dirk. The Heat don’t have any individual defenders that can stop Dirk, or maybe the correct way to say this is that it doesn’t mater how good the defense on him is, he’s going to make shots. While leaving Dirk in a 1-on-1 isn’t ideal, none of the other Mavs can consistently win their matchups without a double-team on Dirk freeing them up.
The Mavs need to start making their open looks. Watching the games, it seems like Dallas is getting the shots that they want on offense, but they aren’t making them. Maybe this answer is a little too broad and obvious for you, but at least it isn’t “Go back to when Caron Butler was healthy and rest him until now,” which is actually a suggestion I’m serious about.
11. What are your Bold Predictions for both teams in Game 4?
- Dirk cools off from the field, shooting under 40% tonight
- Tyson Chandler pulls his rebounding game together for 10 boards
- Jet stays ice cold, making 0 three-pointers and staying under 8 points
- Mark Cuban attends tonight’s game in a Brian Cardinal jersey
- Wade leads all players in rebounds tonight
- LeBron gets 10 assists but with the cost of 5 turnovers
- Juwon Howard celebrates his 50th birthday on the bench
- Remember Mike Bibby? He scores 15 tonight, including at least three three-pointers