Crucial Game 5: Miami Finishes Off Three Game Road Trip Against Dallas

Miami Heat AT Dallas Mavericks
June 8th, 2011 Tipoff: 9 PM EST
Opening Line:  DAL -2
Current Line:  Even.
Opening Total:  185
Current Total:  184
Opening Moneyline:  MIA -210, DAL +180
Current Moneyline:  MIA -105, DAL -115

Best of Seven Tied Up 2-2

76ers Heat NBA Playoffs Game 4 Preview
For the first time in 90 career playoff games, James scored in single digits Tuesday

The Mavericks came back strong on Tuesday night to tie up the series in what could only be deemed a “must win,” as going down 3-1 would have been disastrous to their chances.  Much as it was in game two, the Mavericks starting front line of Marion, Nowitzki and Chandler, provided the bulk of the offense, putting in 50 of Dallas’ 86 points.  Jason Terry finally came in and made a difference, scoring 17, though he was just 6 of 15 from the floor.

The Mavs went away from their traditional starting lineup Tuesday, opting to start J.J. Barea alongside Kidd rather than Deshawn Stevenson, but it was Stevenson who came up with the three clutch three point shots, two of which were on back to back possessions, keying a strong run for the Mavericks.

Moreover, despite Dirk not having a good game, and going 6 of 19 from the floor, the Mavs showed they had enough other tools to weather a storm even when their star player is hitting less than one-third of his field goal attempts.

For Miami, Dwyane Wade strung together his third consecutive strong game, finishing with 32 points on 13 of 20 shooting from the floor.  Quickly solidifying himself as one of the best shot blocking guards of all time, he also blocked 2 shots.  He is averaging 1.33 blocks per game in the Finals and had a 5 block game in game 4 in Philly and a 4 block game in game 4 in Boston.

The real story of the game may have been the utter failure of LeBron James, though.

James acknowledged that he failed in game four, failing to “play well,” at a point when the Heat could have put themselves firmly in the driver’s seat of this series.  James scored only 8 points.  It was the first time in his career that he failed to score in double figures in a playoff game.  Mostly to blame was the fact that he attempted only 11  shots.  During the regular season, James shot 18.8 shots per game and hit 51%.

If nothing else in these Finals, and even more so in these playoffs, Dirk Nowitzki has only further cemented his status as the best international player the NBA has seen.  Mavs president Donnie Nelson acknowledged that Dirk never really received his due as a superstar, but may now be getting his due respect.  While he struggled all night from the floor, he did make the go-ahead layup on a drive with 3.6 seconds left.  He knew with his shot off that he had to attack the basket, and he did.  That’s the sign of a smart player.

So for the Heat, the elixer is really pretty simple:  Have a bigger game from LeBron James.  Chris Bosh did his part, getting hot in the first half and eventually finishing with 24 points.  He was a no-show in the second half, though, and he, like LeBron played over 40 minutes.  He will also need to rebound better, as coming up with six isn’t enough, though Miami did outrebound the Mavs 44-41.  The Mavs have to get tougher on the defensive boards.  They gave up 15 offensive rebounds Tuesday night and still won.  That doesn’t happen that often.

Some betting trends:

The total has gone UNDER in 4 of Miami’s last 5 games and the Heat are 18-5 SU in their last 23 games.  The Heat are 6-1-1 ATS in their last 8 games and they are 10-3-1 ATS in their last 14 on the road.  The Total has gone UNDER in 4 of Miami’s last 5 games on the road and the Heat are 10-4 SU in their last 14 road games.  The Heat are 2-12 SU in their last 14 games against the Dallas Mavericks and they are 8-15-2 ATS in their last 25 against Dallas.  The Heat are 1-6 SU in their last 7 games on the road against the Mavs and the Heat are 6-1-1 ATS in their last 8 games on the road against the Mavs.

The total has gone UNDER in 4 of Dallas’ last 5 games and the Mavs are 12-3 SU in their last 15 games.  The Mavs are 1-3-1 ATS in their last 5 games and they are 17-4-2 ATS in their last 23 games.  The Mavs are 11-2 SU in their last 13 at home and they are 1-3-1 ATS in their last 5 at home.  The Mavs are 9-3-1 ATS in their last 13 at home and the Mavs are 12-2 SU in their last 14 games against the Miami Heat.  The total has gone UNDER in 8 of the Mavs’ last 11 games at home against the Heat and the Mavs are 6-1 SU in their last 7 at home against the Heat.  The Mavs are 1-6-1 ATS in their last 8 games at home against Miami.

This game is of crucial importance to both teams.  For Dallas, it represents their last home game of the 2011 season and the fans are sure to be amped.  Look for the Mavs to try to take control early.  The Heat have been very resilient after losses this season, however, and to expect LeBron to come out anything other than extremely focused after his poor game 4, would be silly.  He realizes he’s the best player on the Heat team and he needs to play like it.  Wade has gone off this series and Dallas still appears to have no answer for him.  If all three of Miami’s studs play well, it’s going to be a tough proposition for the Mavs to win this series.

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