Unless you are a Miami Heat fan, you had to love what you saw at the end of Game 2 of the 2011 NBA Finals Thursday night. Down 88-73 with 7:15 to play the Dallas Mavericks roared back to win, 95-93, knotting the series at 1-1.
Until those fateful final minutes it looked like both the game and the series were pretty much over. When Dwayne Wade (36 points) hit a ridiculous corner 3-pointer the Heat had that 88-73 lead, and it was pretty obvious that both the Heat fans and players pretty much began sizing up their championship rings at that point.
Only Miami forgot that Dallas has made a habit of erasing huge fourth-quarter deficits in these playoffs. In Game 4 of the Western Conference finals the Mavs trailed Oklahoma City by 15 points in the fourth quarter before winning in overtime.
While Miami was forgetting to finish the game, Dallas was seemingly just remembering that to win the Mavericks had to start playing defense and stop throwing the ball away.
The Mavericks got close and Nowitzki — damaged left hand and all — pushed them over the top, scoring his team’s final nine points.
Plenty of questions at the end of this one.
- Why did Miami coach Erik Spoelstra choose Chris Bosh to defend Nowitzki on the final shot when he could have gone to Udonis Haslem, Joell Anthony or LeBron James — all better defenders?
- Why did Miami, which had a foul to give on the Mavericks final possession, choose not to use it?
- Why did the Heat leave Bosh one-on-one against Nowitzki, a great player having a transcendent playoff run?
- Did the Heat let down after Wade’s shot, and his pose, in the corner that made the score 88-73?
- Are the Mavericks, with the next three game in Dallas, now in control of the series?
Regardless of the answers, NBA fans — except those who root for Miami — now have exactly what they want. A real series that could go either way. It looks like the fun has just begun.