Greetings from the American Airlines Center in Dallas for Game 3 of the NBA Finals! It's a brisk 100 degrees today in North Texas but I'm not letting that stop me from feeding my growing addiction to all things barbeque. But I digress. I'm happy to tell you that I'll be joined shortly by ESPN Dallas' Tim MacMahon. I'm sure he'll provide us with some great insight so make sure to get your questions in. We'll be chatting until just a few minutes until tip off and then I'll be back after the game to do another chat.
But let's not waste any more time and get this chat rolling!
How important is this game to both teams?
It's a must-win for both teams, Carl. Listen to this tidbit courtesy of the ESPN research group: Since the Finals switched to a 2-3-2 format in 1985, there have been 11 times when the series was tied 1-1. In ALL 11 of those, the winner of Game 3 won the series. I'm not great at math but even I know that's pretty incredible. Both teams want the momentum and edge and know just how crucial this game is tonight.
Have you seen heywood during the shoot around?how bad does that hip look?
Silly question. If Brandon Hayword doesn't play Sunday will it make a difference.
No such thing as a silly question, WW. That's not true. But your question is totally legit. Still waiting on the final word about Haywood's status for tonight. He's listed as a game-time decision due to a strained right hip flexor. He was limited in practice yesterday and he reportedly underwent treatment on Sunday morning instead of participating in the Mavs' shootaround. If he is unable to go tonight, the Mavs will definitely his absence particulalrly on defense. He's provided some major relief moments for Chandler. Ian Mahinmi will try to fill that void but he's only played in three games during the postseason so this is somewhat concerning.
can shawn marion maintain his level of play throughout the rest of this series?
Glad you brought up Marion, Alando. He's been such a consistent, somewhat-under-the-radar star for this Mavs team as of late. While Dirk stole the show at the end of Game 2, it was in large part because Marion had played well throughout to keep the game within reach. He has done a tremendous job guarding LeBron, just as he did on Kobe and Durant earlier this postseason. His numbers have continued to rise as the playoffs have progressed and I don't see that trend reversing now.
Why does it take so long from game 2 to game 3 to be played?
I think it really comes down to TV scheduling, Mario. The NBA maps out their Finals schedule months in advance and this is what works for all of the involved parties. Three days does seem like a long time off but when you factor in the travel for both teams, it's probably much appreciated by them.
What's the problem with the Heat? Is it the coach or the big 3s?
A combination of things resulted in the Heat's epic collapse on Thursday. The Heat took their foot off of the gas too early and the talented Mavs were able to mount an incredible victory. The Big Three were essentially useless when it counted (despite a monster game from Wade in the first three quarters). I'm somewhat baffled by their lack of intensity in the postgame. However, a coach's job is to keep his team on track and focused in precisely those moments. I obviously don't know what Spoelstra said in the huddle but I have to place some of the blame on him as well.
It seems like after Dallas made that big comeback in game 2 to make the series 1-1, that the nation has almost counted Miami out of it. What's your take on that, do you think they are out of it and Dallas has all the momentum?
Great point, Clay. It's so funny to me that after Game 1, so many people were talking about a Heat sweep and like it was a sure bet that Miami would win it. Then the Mavs won Game 2 and now suddenly they're the favorite. We're a society with a very short collective memory apparently. I think Dallas obviously has the momentum and now a three-game home streak but the Heat are in no way out of this series. Tonight is crucial for both teams but I could see it going either way.
How much does Dirks legacy rely on winning this championship
I don't think Dirk's legacy rests entirely on winning a title as he has a great career overall, Ron. He'll be remembered as one of the greats regardless, just like Barkley has been. But, a title would put him into the conversation of one of the best ever and make Carlisle's 'top ten of all time' claim have some real legitimacy.
Why is no one pointing a finger at james not defending at the end of the game?
I think Bosh is getting a lot of heat (no pun intended) for his defensive meltdown as he was the one guarding Dirk at the end of the game. However, the entire Miami team seemed to fall apart on the defensive end. I have to wonder if LeBron and Wade uesd all of their energy too early with those high-flying dunks and offensive wizardry we witnessed in the first three quarters. It just looked like they lost a step in the 4th. Maybe they should have saved some of their energy from their celebration with seven minutes to go and used it to, I don't know, play defense.
Are you allowed to talk about refs?
I sure hope so because otherwise I'm going to be in a lot of trouble... Seriosuly though, I've never heard anyone be asked to not talk the officiating by the NBA or any media organization.
Can the Heat psychologically come back from such a huge collapse?
As demoralizing as Game 2 might have been for the Heat, I don't see them losing all hope with just one loss. Keep in mind, they lost Game 1 of the Eastern Conferene Finals in Chicago by 21 points but managed to regroup and win four straight to claim the series. Tonight will certainly be a test but I think they'll be able to forget about Thursday and just focus on the task at hand tonight.
Can Mavs wrap series up at home
Not likely, Grapevine, but it certainly is possible. The Heat are too talented and driven in my mind to just completely fall apart but the Mavs certainly now have the edge with the monetum from Game 2 and three-straight games in Dallas. Interesting to note, the Heat have won just once in this town since 1999. I would expect this to change but it's an incredible fact nonetheless.
is there any chance that caron butler plays in this series?
Not looking good, Jerry. I know Butler wants to play and remains optimistic, at least publicly, but he's not playing tonight and I would doubt he will at all. Keep in mind, the usual recovery time is six months and he's only at five. The Mavs could certainly use him but I think they'll have to settle for his supportive words and cheers from the bench unfortunately.
What is your take on the "celebration" after chalmers' 3 was it too much?
I thought it was a little excessive, Zak. I mean there was still so much time left and they were playing a really talented team more than capable of making a comeback. I understand being excited about building such a lead but I would think they will be a little more reserved going forward. Anger is such a motivator and I think the Mavs were able to harness that energy into their rally. I would have thought the Heat would tone it down a notch after being criticized so harshly after their antics after being the Celtics. Maybe they will now.
It would be a shame for The Heat to win the championship. It'll teach the young generation that if you can't handle the stress, quit and go elsewhere.
I think regardless of if the Heat win or lose, other players are seeing that they new trend of being succesful in this league is teaming up with other star players. It could have some major damaging effects down the road but I think we'll see that more and more in the immediate future. If you can't win alone, make some friends who are perennial all-stars and convince them to play with you.
How do the Mavs fans compare to the Heat fans?
I've gotten some flack from Heat fans recently for my portrayal of them so I'm going to tread lightly here. However, I think Dallas is a great sports town overall and they just have a loyalty towards their teams that is sort of engrained in their cutlure. There is a real energy in town and it's fun to be around.
BY ANY CHANCE IF THE HEAT LOSE,WILL PAT RILEY COACHES GAME 4,SEND CoACH home on some family problems
Not a chance. But I love speculating and conspiracy theories so I felt like I would throw this one out there.
Why don't people remember that the heat aren't the first to bring 3 stars together? Excuse me, Boston?
You're right that Boston did something similar but the difference is where the players are in their respective careers and that the C's were brought in through trades. Boston's Big Three were all much older and determined to win a title before they called it a career. Miami's version is much, much younger and could be together possibly for many years. Both teams though reinforce the idea though that superstars teaming up is the way to win a championship.
What does the teaming up of superstars mean for small market teams
It's kind of a scary thought for the smaller markets. There aren't enough superstars to field every team so the major markets could ultimately dominate the playoffs year after year. It's not good on a number of levels from the sustainability of these markets to TV ratings to general competition. We'll see what happens but I don't like this trend.
THIS JUST IN: Brendan Haywood will NOT play tonight due to his strained right hip flexor. Not great news for Mavs fans.
What's the word on Haywood? Will he play. If not, how will that impact the Mavs rotation?
He's officially not playing, JJ. Expect more minutes from Ian Mahinmi. And, if you're a Mavs fan, hope and pray Chandler can stay out of foul trouble.
Why is the media so obsessed with proclaiming who's the leader of the Miami Heat?
It really comes down to the fact that people love drama and gossip. We live in a world with a 24-7 news cycle and that's a compelling storyline. People were interested before this team even took the court together to see how LeBron and Wade's egos would respond in sharing the spotlight and I think people are just itching for some signs of strain or split.
I'm sitting at the pool. You jealous?
I'm at the NBA Finals. You jealous? I kid, I kid. you have a Corona in hand? That might tip the scales somewhat.
Do you think the 2-3-2 game format will favor any team?
I think it generally gives a decent edge to the team with home court advantage. However, at this moment in this specific series, it favors the Mavs slightly as they now have three games at home. They could potentially take a big series lead or even win it all. If it goes back to Miami, then the Heat take te obvious advantage. There is an arguement to made for the series to go to a 2-2-1-1-1 but for all of the travel and accomodations for everyone involved, this makes sense logistically.
I'm going to toss it over for a few minutes to Tim MacMahon from ESPN Dallas. Send in all of your Mavs questions as I'm sure he can answer them much better than I can. Here's Tim!
Do you think we will see Lebron guarding Dirk at all this series?
If we haven't seen it yet, I don't know that we will. Udonis Haslem actually defends Dirk as well as anybody. He should have been on Dirk at the end of Game 1. Erik Spoelstra has opted to use LeBron on Jason Terry at the end of games. That worked very well in Game 1. In the Mavs' Game 2 comeback, Terry got a couple of buckets in transition, scored twice on Mario Chalmers and turned into a distributor when LeBron guarded him late.
Will the heat lose this series if bosh doesn't step up his game?
If Chris Bosh doesn't play much better, Miami will have a hard time winning the series. Tyson Chandler has done a terrific job on Bosh, but Chandler's job gets a lot harder with Brendan Haywood unavailable to spell him. Here's an interesting Bosh stat that probably isn't relevant in this series: He is 0-8 in NBA games in Dallas, his hometown.
What does the mavs second unit need to do to be more effective? They've been huge during the playoffs but haven't shown up yet in the finals.
They've got to hit shots, starting with Peja Stojakovic. If that doesn't happen, Rick Carlisle has to get him off the floor. The Heat has exposed his defensive weaknesses. Peja and JJ Barea have both been much more effective at home than on the road throughout the playoffs, by the way.
With Haywood out, I'm guessing LeBron and D Wade will drive more to attempt to get Chandler in foul trouble. If lanes open up, will the Heat try to play more of a drive and kick game? And if so, do you think James Jones will get some playing time as a 3 point threat?
LeBron vowed to be in "attack mode" after shootaround this morning. It didn't matter whether Haywood was out or not. That was going to be his approach. It's just even more important with the Mavs down to one legit big. There might be some drive-and-kick, but Miami's stars will be on a mission to attack the basket and get to the free throw line. LeBron is disgusted that he's attempted only six free throws so far in this series. And if Chandler gets in early foul trouble, the Mavs are in big trouble.
Should Carlile stay with small lineup in crunch time?
The Mavs haven't used a small lineup much. When they have, it's been awful. They need Chandler as their defensive anchor during crunch time.
Do you think Lebron was being a little too much saying "no one can guard me one-on-one"
No. It's the truth. Kevin Durant, considered one of the most humble superstars in the game, said the same thing when asked about Shawn Marion's defense during the West finals. Marion is doing an outstanding job defending MVP-caliber players, but he's doing it with the support of a strong team concept.
What is your prediction on this series? And would this championship means more to Dirk or lebron?
I've got the Mavs winning Game 7 with Bennett Salvatore and Danny Crawford officiating. It just feels like destiny for Dallas. A title would mean more to Dirk. This might be his last chance. LeBron will win plenty, although I'm not sure he'll live up to his promise of more than seven.
It seemed the Heat got very stagnant with their offense throught the final 6 minutes in the 4th of game 2. What do you think is the Heat's best offense in the final stretches?
Erik Spoelstra said the Heat actually executed well on 11 of 14 possessions in the last seven minutes. Give the Mavs D some credit for forcing Miami into tough shots. The Heat's best offense is always getting stops on defense and turning that into transition opportunities. LeBron and D-Wade are almost unstoppable in the open floor.
How big of a role does tyson chandler need in these finals for the mavs to win it all?
Chandler had to play a huge role no matter what. It gets bigger with Brendan Haywood out tonight. If the Mavs get whipped on the boards like they did in Game 1, they'll lose. If they don't protect the paint, they'll lose. Those are Chandler's primary responsibilities.
Appreciate the questions. I'm gonna hand the baton back to D'Arcy now.
Huge thanks to Tim for stopping by! I told you he would give better Mavs insight than I ever could.
With lebron's antics do you think that's rubbing off on his team in a bad way? I don't remerber wade being so "happy" in high pressure situations
That's interesting, Shannon. I think that kind of celebratory behavior is kind of infectious whether it's in a basketball game or getting A on a group project (not that I know what that one is actually like, I'm just speculating here). I think the entire Heat squad will try and keep their emotions in check tonight though and throughout the series.
Why dont the mavs use corey brewer his defense is intense.
I think his chances of playing tonight just dramatically increased with the news of Haywood's absence. He did a pregame interview with the in-house reporter and said he would be 'ready to go' if need be.
So is there a noticeable difference between the regular Mavs fans and cavs for Mavs fans in the building?
I think nationally you'll see a lot of bandwagon Mavs fans and a lot of fans of other teams banding together in support for Dallas due mainly because of their dislike of the Heat. However, most of the fans I've encountered in Dallas are legitimate Mavs fans and would be just as enthusiastic about the Finals regardless of the opponent.
On a scale of zero to trading your first child to see it, how bad do you wish mark cuban would give an interview about game 3 from 2006?
Can I trade my second child instead? In which case, count me in.
Are the refs influenced by the location and crowd noise?
I don't think so. These guys are professionals and part of their job is tuning all of the external stuff. I'm sure they don't love when 15K+ people chant about visionary problems but they know it comes with the territory.
Jason Terry just led the Mavs onto the court to a rowdy ovation. The Heat's presence also prompted some noise...
Why are the media convinced Dallas can win it all when they have been taking a beating each game?
I don't know if everyone in the media shares one collective thought, AJ. And I think a number of people believe the Heat will win it all. But, as for those in the Mavs camp, the fact that the Mavs haven't played well and are still in a tied series only strengthens their case. Dallas played pretty badly on Thursday and yet still found a way to win. Imagine how good they could be if they played their best game from start to finish?
Why do we see so many players acting like they didn't commit fouls when it is so obvious when the replay comes on? Lebron especially
At this level of competition, players feel like they have to do whatever it takes to get the call their way. A lot is on the line. Might as well try and convince the refs otherwise even if you deep down know you might have fouled someone. Just part of the game.
I'm a huge Mavs fan, but I'm also a Lebron fan...I am of course rooting for Dirk n company but I wouldn't be completely upset if Lebron gets his ring either....am I wrong?
Yup, Aisha, I think you might be wrong here. It's like that age-old dilemma... if you're in love with two people and can't decide between either one than you probably don't really love either one of them. Or at least I think I read that in Cosmo at some point. Pick a side and stand firmly behind it. It's Mavs or LeBron and you have to choose.
Okay, gang. That does it for me. But I'll be blogging during the game and will be chatting after the game as well if you want to follow along. Thanks to everyone for joining in today and HUGE thanks to Tim MacMahon for stopping by as well. Enjoy the game!