Monday, February 12, 2007

For the Record

The finals last year ended like they did, the team that played better apparently won, and you can certainly make a strong case that the Mavericks didn't deserve to win and that Dwyane Wade did.

However, since Dwyane called Dirk out this week concerning his leadership at the end of the big games, I thought I'd look up the record of what actually happened. (You can look at the game log here, though note the running tally for the score on that page is wrong.) Wade is correct that Dirk didn't play well late in game 6, although I think the loss had a lot more to do with Howard and Terry combining to shoot 12 of 41 (29.3%) from the field for the game. I don't know how many teams can overcome two of their top three scorers performing that poorly, but Dallas almost did. Dirk, incidentally, finished game 6 with 29 points [on 10/22 FG, 8/8 FT] and 15 rebounds.

But whatever you think of his performance there, I would argue that anyone wanting to criticize Dirk for supposedly failing to show up in the finals should remember what happened in the last seven minutes of game 5. The series was tied at 2-2, and the teams were playing the last game in Miami. Dirk didn't have a great game overall, but here's how the end of the game shook out:

Late 4th Quarter

1:39 Wade 17-footer (Heat up 89-88)
1:25 Dirk hits 1 of 2 FT (tie 89)
1:07 Wade 15-footer (Heat up 91-89)
0:49 Dirk 14-footer (tie 91-91)
0:33 Wade misses
0:10 Dampier dunk (Dirk assists) (Mavs up 93-91)
0:02 Wade 9-footer (tie 93-93)
0:00 Terry misses

OK, this was the pivotal (I hate that word, but it's correct here) game of the series, and you get big-time performances from both Nowitzki and Wade late in the fourth quarter. Dirk misses a free throw, Wade misses a jump shot, but other than that it's a classic back-and-forth, and they're both brilliant.


The overtime wasn't as spectacular. Wade went 1/3 from the field and 2/2 from the line with 1 rebound, while Dirk went 1/2 from the field with 2 boards. However, the shot Wade made was early in the overtime period, followed by two misses. Dirk missed his first shot, but the shot he made was a fall-away over Shaq with 9 seconds left and his team trailing by one. That was a huge shot, and Dirk nailed it; his team needed him, and he got the bucket. Then, Wade came down and took a bad shot on a drive but got the foul call.

I really can't help pointing out that the foul call was *hugely* questionable, especially since Wade (1) had already pushed off a couple of Mavs players on the play, and (2) was out of control and taking a bad shot when the foul was called. Yeah, these things happen; I'm just saying the drive itself wasn't exactly clutch on Wade's part.

Then, while Josh Howard was busy accidentally wasting Dallas's last time-out, Wade made both free throws (which, of course, was clutch) for the win.

Now, I don't really know about the call; these things can go either way. But what I saw when I watched that game was Dirk making big play after big play for his team. And in light of how game 5 ended, I think Wade should have a little bit of humility, realizing that his team would have lost that game if one official hadn't blown the whistle on that last play.


micah said...

Scott, this blog is a great thing. It gives substance to my disdain for Dwayne Wade and the Heat! :) You know you really don't like a team with you want San Antonio to beat them.

Jeremy said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jeremy said...

It was a foul

scoots said...

1. Yeah, probably.
2. Not on Dirk (as called).
3. Wade is lunging out of control
4. Wade's eyes are closed

My point here is not to defend the Mavericks, but rather to suggest that Wade appears to have been well on his way to missing that shot all on his own. He went for a shot whose success basically depended on him getting the foul call.

If the whistle didn't blow, people would have talked about how Dirk hit the game-winner, whereas Wade made some big plays but couldn't come through in the end.

Something similar happened at the end of game 6, on this play. If the officials had called a foul against Wade, as they should have, it would have been a turnover that would have given the ball back to Dallas with under 30 seconds left, trailing by only one.

Now, that doesn't help Dallas's cause, because they turned the ball over on the next possession anyway. But I'm not saying Dallas earned game 6.

I'm just saying that the bad shot Wade actually took at the end of game 5, coupled with his elbow to Dirk's gut at the end of game 6––and then throw in the back-to-back free throws he missed that gave Dallas a chance to tie at the end of game 6––could just as easily have turned him into the one who supposedly didn't "lead" his team when it counted.

In light of that, I think his criticism of Dirk is kind of throwing rocks in a glass house.