2011 NBA Finals Game 5 Important Observations

• Mario Chalmers is the best point guard on the Heat — This isn’t even open for debate. Chalmers was all over this game. He hit open threes, he found open teammates and he sat an awful lot of minutes down the stretch. He was in a little bit of foul trouble, but if a guy like Chalmers is only going to get 15 minutes in a game anyways, let him foul out. He was extremely effective last night, and I really wonder why he wasn’t a bigger part of the Heat’s lineup at the end of the game.
On a side note, Chalmers again hit a half-court buzzer-beater in this game. For years, I’ve been clamoring for basketball teams to designate a player as the last-second desperation shot shooter, and it appears that maybe Spoelstra has been listening and Chalmers is that guy.

He's pointing at Dirk, but he's just so tall.

• Jason Terry was the best Dallas player in Game 5 — Yes, Dirk had more points, but come on. Jet had his fingerprints all over the end of this game. He hit open looks, he created some opportunities for the rest of his teammates and he still can’t really guard Dywane Wade, but it wasn’t highlighted as much in this one because Wade was hurt for a bit. And get this, when the game got close at the end, like they all have, Terry just kept making plays. It’ll be interesting to see if the Mavs include Terry when Game 6 gets close (it’s going to) or if the Heat change defensive strategy any now that Dirk isn’t the only endgame option for Dallas.

• The Mavs shot the lights out from the three-point line in Game 5 — Let it be understood that this wasn’t a fluke, it’s what the Mavs do. This is what the roster is built for and any team playing them has to know that any sort of a double-team anywhere in the halfcourt offense is going to result in an open look for a dangerous shooter. They won’t go 13-19 every game, but if they get as many open looks as they did in Game 5, it shouldn’t a surprise that this team knocks down threes at a high rate.

• The Mavericks owe their fans something for the home-court advantage — I hope the Miami fans are taking note of how the home court fans helped Dallas in the last two games. It was super loud in Dallas, and I think it ended up helping the Mavs win those games. I wasn’t at the arena, but the sounds coming from my tv were notably different in the last three games than the first two. Miami fans have two chances to make it up to the Heat and bring the noise, but I think everyone doubts that will really happen.

Was Game 4 really that bad? Cut. It. Out.

• LeBron’s triple-double is a thing of statistical beauty, but to me it didn’t feel much different than his Game 4 performance — I don’t want to try to take the triple-double away from him. I don’t want to say that it wasn’t remarkable. I do want to say that it felt very similar to his Game 4 virtual no-show in terms of his impact on the overall game. He played the same number of minutes (46) in both, so the numbers are pretty directly comparable. In Game 4, he had nine boards and seven assists, pretty close to the 10 and 10 he had in his triple-double Game 5. His point production in Game 5 was more than Game 4 (17 vs eight), but it’s not like he scored a lot in Game 5. It’s not even like he was really that effective on offense in Game 5. He shot 8-19 from the field, missing all his three and making one of his two free throws. In Game 4, he went 3-11 from the field, missing all his three and making two of four free throws.

Essentially, in the triple-double game, he played the same as the Game 4 disaster, he just shot more. His rebounding numbers from the two games are the same. His assists increased from seven to 10, but Miami as a team made more shots in Game 5. Watching the two, his passing looks the same, but guys like Miller and Chalmers knocked down open looks in Game 5 and they missed in Game 4. In terms of scoring, his Game 5 stats show .89 points-per-shot-attempt compared to .73 in Game 4. Sure, it’s an increase, but hardly. He still missed almost all of his open jumpers, he just took more of them.
There may be other stories you read about his fourth-quarter numbers and how that’s the upsetting part of this series for him, but I hate stats like that. Look at the whole game. A rebound in the first quarter counts the same as one in the fourth quarter, A layup late is still worth two points. It might feel different, but it isn’t.

What’s the point of all of this? First, that his super-discussed Game 4 flop wasn’t exactly as bad as it was reported to be. Second, if you watch the games, you’ll see LeBron just not playing the same way he did in the regular season or even in the previous playoff series. Maybe it’s because the Mavs can defend him well. Maybe it’s because Wade is playing better than he has all year and him playing well takes away from the opportunities LeBron has to make an impact. I tend to lean toward the Mavs defending him well, rather than believe that he’s just checking out of games or that he isn’t trying.

• The Technical Foul rules are still broken — Shawn Marion got T’ed up in this one on a play very similar to Rick Carlisle’s Technical in Game 4. In that game, LeBron clearly flopped, the call was blown, and Carlisle was quickly penalized despite what appeared to be a pretty calm demeanor. Last night, LeBron double-dribbled, the refs blew the call, then quickly called Marion for the Technical when he argued. In both cases, I don’t know the words that were actually said in protesting the calls, but in a game full of superstars who complain about every call that doesn’t go their way, it seems weird that those two got penalized. And the replays show that they were arguing for against a call that was legitimately blown. It’s hard to watch the Big 3 and Dirk whine about every foul they don’t draw and then see Carlisle and Marion get penalized immediately for calmly protesting calls that were actually blown. I just don’t get it.

Dwyane Wade’s health is going to impact Game 6 — I’m not sure exactly what his injury was, but it was hip-related and my understanding of injuries like that is that you can still operate pretty well while your body is active, but once you slow down and rest, it gets worse. I’m no doctor, but Wade has been the best Heat player in this series and his health is probably the most important story to monitor between Games 5 and 6.

• Thanks for all the traffic yesterday, it was my third-highest day ever — Again, thanks a lot to everyone who has been reading SpreeGoogs so far. I put a pretty decent amount of my time and effort into maintaining this blog, and it’s pretty intensely rewarding to check my site stats and see that I have so many readers coming to see what I have to say. I keep at this thing because I like you guys a bunch. So keep reading, tell your friends, post links, do whatever you have been doing so far, because it’s great.

• My bolder predictions were pretty far off, but that’s why they’re BOLDER — I’ll take credit for 1.5 of 6 correct predictions (Terry and half of LeBron) but the rest were pretty far off. This is what you get when you’re bolder, and I’m going to keep up that same level of spicy-ness for the Game 6 predictions, which will come sometime soon. I have yet to receive any comments predicting anything bold from anyone, so you guys have one and maybe two games to make it up to me and the rest of the readership. Strap on you boldest shoes and look into your crystal balls. But don’t forget that the most important part is you actually writing those predictions in the comments section.