It wasn’t close. In a game that both combatants agreed was critical, the Miami Heat dominated Dallas and the three-man officiating crew of Mark Cuban’s wildest fantasies.
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Yes, Dirk Nowitzki unspooled a would-be, game-tying fadeaway as the buzzer sounded on Game 3 of the NBA Finals, but an answer to Dirk’s prayer would’ve only stalled the inevitable.
Miami’s 88-86 victory Sunday night revealed the flukiness of Game 2 and the shakiness of Nowitzki’s supporting cast.
The Heat could wrap up this best-of-7 series before leaving Dallas. That’s not a prediction. It’s a simple observation.
If the Mavericks can’t beat Miami inside the American Airlines Center on a night Chris Bosh plays with one good eye, LeBron James struggles with his stroke and the refs openly flirt with Mark Cuban, then it’s preposterous to believe Dallas can win this series.
This wasn’t a two-point game. This was a millionaire armed with Viagra, condoms and a best-of-Barry White CD striking out at The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas.
As you read this, J.J. Barea is bricking another wide-open 3-pointer and the refs are waking Nowitzki from a nap to send The Germanator back to the free-throw line.
Seriously, how did Dallas lose this game?
The refs called nearly twice as many fouls on Miami (27-14) as Dallas. Down the stretch, the refs sent Nowitzki to the stripe for no reason and looked the other way when Shawn Marion flew into LeBron James.
There are two theories to explain Sunday’s officiating:
1) Cuban called in his marker from 2006.
2) The refs are trying to stop James and Dwyane Wade from turning basketball into soccer.
I’m going with No. 2. Wade and James are disgracing the game with their flopping and whining. Maybe I’m romanticizing the NBA glory years, but I don’t remember basketball being played this way by Jordan, Magic, Larry, Isiah, Duncan, Hakeem, etc.
James and Wade are actors who seem to delight in baiting the refs into bad calls the way soccer players do. When they don’t get a call, they resort to demonstrative tantrums.
I’m not a James-Wade hater. I’m bothered by their tactics because I want to celebrate their brilliance. I’m bothered by their tactics because I don’t want basketball to become anything like soccer. The refs have a tough enough job without trying to decide who is and isn’t flailing their arms and vaulting to the ground.
As a fan, I find that flopping, flailing and whining detract from the game. I hope NBA dictator David Stern does something to discourage the behavior. We have flagrant fouls. I say let’s add flagrant flops. Have a replay official monitor the game and award flagrant-flop free throws at the beginning of each quarter. There’s no reason to interrupt the flow of the game.
If replay reveals Wade flailed-flopped in an effort to draw a bogus foul, the opposition gets a single free throw at the start of the next quarter. If the flail-flop leads to a bogus foul call, then the opposing team gets two free throws.
I know it’s a judgment call, but aren’t they all? Plus, it would take only about a month to eliminate flailing and flopping all together.
I’m sorry for that tangent. It needed to be said.
My original point was that despite the refs blatantly favoring the Mavericks, the Heat dominated Sunday’s game. Miami took several double-digit leads and pretty much controlled the game from start to finish.
Dallas went on a couple of good runs and flirted with stealing another game when it was clearly outplayed. But Sunday’s game and this series aren’t competitive. They’re exciting.
You could make a persuasive argument the Heat should be going for a sweep Tuesday night. Unlike Game 2, Erik Spoelstra allowed Wade to initiate the offense late and Udonis Haslem to guard Nowitzki.
To paraphrase Moses Malone, we’re looking at “fi, fi, fi.”
We’re looking at a Miami team being every bit as dominant during these playoffs as it promised to be during its preseason championship celebration.
Would this series be different if the Mavericks had Caron Butler and Brendan Haywood? Maybe. Or maybe the refs wouldn’t take so much pity on Dallas.