For the Miami Heat, Chris Bosh hit a clutch jumper in Game 3. Dwyane Wade scored 39 points in Game 2. And LeBron James made the big-time 3-pointers in Game 1.
For the Mavericks in the NBA Finals, it's Dirk...or defeat.
In last night's kick-to-the-crotch 88-86 loss in American Airlines Center, Dirk Nowitzki wasn't perfect. To start the second half he missed a jumper and then loafed back on defense, allowing Heat center Joel Anthony a layup. And on Dallas' final three possessions he passed to Jason Terry, hurled a turnover in the general direction of Shawn Marion and, of course, back-rimmed the game-tying Flamingo Fadeaway at the buzzer.
The Mavs are down 2-1 because they're playing 3 on 1.
While the Heat are getting production from various stars -- shoot, even Mario Chalmers had four 3-pointers -- Dirk sits all alone on desperation island. How do-or-die is Dirk?
In Game 3 he scored Dallas' final 12 points, with no other Maverick contributing a point the final 6:47. Same in Game 2, when he scored the Mavs' final nine points in the last three minutes.
Oh Robin, where art thou?
Truth be told, Dallas' second-best player is sitting behind the bench in a suit, nervously chomping gum. Goes by the name of Caron Butler.
Without a consistent secondary option, Dirk's play is even further magnified. His layup won Game 2. His missed jumper lost Game 3.
After Jason Terry front-rimmed a contested corner 3-pointer from a Nowitzki pass with still 11 seconds on the shot clock in the final minute of a tie game last night, Dirk shouted to no one in particular and hit himself in the head as if to say "No, stupid. Trust no one!"
To win this series the Mavs need dominant Dirk, not deferential Dirk. Because I think it's obvious he's not going to get much help. Terry is shooting 38 percent. J.J. Barea has had games of 1-of-8 and 2-of-8 in Dallas' losses. And remember Peja Stojakovic? Me neither.
According to ESPN, Nowitzki touched the ball on 40 of Dallas' 85 Game 3 possessions. When he was involved the Mavs shot 51 percent, scored 51 points and committed four tunovers, When he wasn't, the Mavs shot 29 percent, scored 35 points and committed 10 turnovers.
Dirk is the best player in Mavericks history. A no-brainer Hall of Famer. Last night he produced 34 points and 11 rebounds, the first player to go for 30-plus against Miami this postseason.
But it's becoming glaringly apparent that he can't beat the Heat all by himself.
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