Heat's early celebration up 15 backfired
June, 3, 2011
By Jeff Caplan | ESPNDallas.com
MIAMI -- Last series the young Oklahoma City Thunder pranced and paraded, slapping make-believe championship belts around their waists. After all, they led the Dallas Mavericks by 15 points with give minutes to go. The odds were 5,000-to-1 that Dallas would come back and win that Game 4.
Then there was veteran Dwyane Wade, a Finals MVP with his right arm extended high after burying a difficult 3-pointer in the corner by the Mavs' bench. The arm stayed up, up, up as he preened in front of the long-faced Mavs seated on the bench. Then Wade and LeBron James engaged in a playful little celebration with James jabbing Wade in the chest like a boxer and emphatically bobbing his head as they headed to the bench after Mavs coach Rick Carlisle called a desperation timeout.
The shot put the Heat up by 15 points. A 2-0 stranglehold on the series was a 7:14 away.
How much did the premature celebration fire up the Mavs and spark another historic comeback? Dirk Nowitzki -- believe him if you want -- said he had his head down and didn't even notice. Others, some of the more emotional Mavs, couldn't help but notice.
"When you got a guy showboating in front of your bench with seven minutes remaining, you say 'The game is not over. I don't care what they say, the game is not over,'" Tyson Chandler said. "I think it angered a lot of us. We came out there and we responded."
Dallas responded with a 22-5 run in the final 7:14 spearheaded by Nowitzki, who scored the Mavs' final nine points of the game in the last 2:44. Jason Terry, who was cold from the floor again, turned it up late with eight points in the fourth quarter and consecutive jumpers after the Mavs fell behind 88-73 on Wade's glorious corner 3.
Terry was behind Wade during his slow walk by the Mavs' bench.
"Right at that moment it was a turning point in the game," Terry said. "Obviously, we come out of that timeout and if we don't score than we were pretty much dead. We looked at each guy in the huddle to a man. Me specifically looked at Dirk and said, there's no way we're going out like this."
Incredibly, they did not.