The clock won’t start ticking on Game 6 for another few hours, and currently all is quiet here in Miami at AmericanAirlines Arena.
Three days, a handful of narratives and many miles since the Mavericks took a 3-2 series advantage in Dallas—and Adam Figman and Maurice Bobb blogged their brains out—it’s time for the lid to be lifted off the simmering cauldron that is the NBA Finals.
Forget all the offcourt BS; none of that matters now. The only questions of any importance are: Will Dallas dismiss the Miami Heat tonight? Will they be able to drink Champagne that’s been on ice since 2006 tonight? Or…will Miami respond from back-to-back losses with a season-extending win on their homecourt? Will Miami, once again, thwart Dallas’ attempt at defeating them in the Finals?
Somehow, someway, over the last few days the narrative around the series has strayed from basketball. Thankfully, tonight we refocus on what really matters: misses and makes, hustle and flow, wins and losses.
In a few minutes I’m gonna dip into the locker rooms and see what’s good for you. Be sure to check back before, during and after the game for complete live coverage of all of the excitement. I’m expecting y’all to do your usual thing in down in comments.
In the meanwhile…Get ya popcorn ready! This should be entertaining, if not fun.
7:10 p.m. For the better part of the past hour(s), I’ve been loitering around the court and locker rooms trying to get a feel for what each squad is looking like. To be honest, both are pretty loose, at least considering what’s on the line. Semi-interesting tidbits I heard/saw include:
-Coach Spo said that Dwyane Wade is “fine. When he gets out there, he’ll be ready to go.”
-Spo had this to say when asked about LeBron James’ play: “We are not going to overreact to all the noise out there. Part of responding in the Playoffs is responding to the highs and lows… We worked on some things obviously to make some adjustments yesterday. I think he’ll have an aggressive mindset coming in to tonight.”
-Coach Carlisle had some things to share as well. Mainly, Brendan Haywood is still a game-time decision. A few questions later, when asked if he showed the team his championship ring to psych them up, he said: “At this point if you need any external motivation, something is wrong.” He also stressed that efficiency will be key tonight for the Mavs, and that if they give up 100+ points again they will lose.
-Dallas’ locker room was relatively still. A lot of dudes were watching gametape, or at least pretending to. No one was really talking to the media, and no one from the media was really trying to disturb the players. While they looked semi-loose, I’m told that for this team they’re as focused as they get.
-Miami’s locker room had a lot more media in it and a lot more action. When I walked in LeBron James was getting dressed as, literally, dozens of reporters videotaped him changing. It was so absurd looking that at one point Bron just looked up, cracked a smile and said, “Y’all funny, man.” James also had Nipsey Hussle’s The Marathon blasting from his speakers. Safe to say, most people couldn’t have IDed the music if their life depended on it.
A minute or two later Dwyane Wade entered the locker room. He was chanting, “you know what time it is,” as LeBron and him locked eyes and shared a small laugh. As the media exited the room, Wade started singing along to 50 Cent’s “Many Men,” specifically the line, “I’m trying to be what I’m destined to be…”
-OK, I’m going to make my way to my seat in a minute. Almost that time!
7:27 p.m. Brendan Haywood is a go for the Mavs. Roddy Beaubois is inactive.
7:48 p.m. AAA is already loud and is definitely going to be full to capacity tonight. Let’s see what kind of 6th man this crowd can be.
7:56 p.m. Marc Anthony sings the national anthem. Unfortunately, no J-Lo sighting. On a more important tip, Mario Chalmers will be starting the game in Mike Bibby’s place tonight.
8:08 p.m. Finally. Game. Time. Who y’all got winning?
8:09 p.m. After two Mario C. misses, LeBron James scores the first basket of Game 6. He’s got a certain way about him early.
8:12 p.m. Early foul on Dwyane Wade. Otherwise, little defense to start the game. 7-6, Miami.
8:16 p.m. LeBron James with back-to-back pull-up jumpers; forces Mavs to call a timeout. 14-10, Miami. Great pace to the game thus far.
8:22 p.m. Chris Bosh hits a foul-line extended jumper off of a LeBron pass. James, Bosh and Wade have combined for 18 of Miami’s first 20 points.
8:25 p.m. Pondering a point a bit early, but could it be bad for James that he hit his first four shots? He has a tendency to fall in love with his jumper when he starts hot. Needs to keep attacking the rim.
8:29 p.m. Brian Cardinal with the looong J. Mark down where you were when he did that. (Just playing; real good dude.)
8:32 p.m. Drive, eurostep and bucket for Jet Terry. Even though they’re only up five (29-24), Mavs have ALL the momentum.
8:34 p.m. Deshawn Stevenson can’t feel his face! After Eddie House answers with a shot of his own, score is 32-27 headed into the second. Remember, Coach Carlisle said that if the game gets too high scoring that doesn’t play in their favor tonight.
8:40 p.m. James hasn’t scored in many minutes after a quick start. Heat NEED him if they’re going to send this thing to 7.
8:42 p.m. Back-to-back threes by Deshawn Stevenson. Dude is feeling himself! 40-28, Mavs lead. If the Heat aren’t careful, Dallas may run away with this.
8:49 p.m. With LeBron on the bench, Heat have regained their footing. Probably a coincidence…but a good thing no matter. Mavs lead by five, 40-35, 8:30 left in the second.
8:52 p.m. Putting out an APB for Dirk Nowitzki. Two points so far…
8:53 p.m. Who would’a thunk Game 6 would’ve come down to Stevenson v. House?!
8:55 p.m. Stevenson and Haslem get into a little skirmish. Chalmers and Chandler and some others join in. Push. Push. No swings. Refs deciphering it all now.
8: 59 p.m. After video review, techs dished out to Udonis Haslem, Mario Chalmers, Deshawn Stevenson. Could’ve been worse.
9:03 p.m. 4:30 left in the second. Still no LeBron James. They’re doing work without him, but it’s time.
9:07 p.m. Not to harp on it, but WTF is up with Dirk? The hero of the 2011 Playoffs is 1-9 from the field. Needs to find himself. Fast.
9:10 p.m. Jason Terry is playing like he doesn’t care about consequences, and it’s suiting him well. He has 17 on 7-9 shooting. 51-49, Dallas leads. 2:14 to go in the second quarter.
9:17 p.m. With Dirk M.I.A. and with Ty Chandler in foul trouble, Dallas still holds a halftime lead, 53-51. Tune in for what should be a superduper dope last 24 minutes.
9:33 p.m. Damn, I forgot how stupid long halftime is during the Finals. Anyway, here we go, for all the marbles (and tostitos).
9:37 p.m. Dirk hits a jumper to start the half. Dallas fans hope that’s the beginning of a big two quarters.
9:40 p.m. A strong start to the half has the Mavs up 7. It’s now or never for the 2011 NBA Heat. Time to make a decision (see what I did there?).
9:47 p.m. Tyson Chandler just picked up his fourth foul. Almost 8 minutes left in the third. Could prove huge.
9: 49 p.m. Bron is looking hard at the refs after that offensive foul call. But if he gets Barea in the post, he needs to bucket.
9:51 p.m. Cardinal got his money’s worth on that hard foul. And they called it on Barea and not him to boot.
9:53 p.m. Technical foul called on Wade. Heat are falling apart at the seams right now.
9:55 p.m. A fan just threw a loose ball at Brian Cardinal…and security is escorting him out. That’s a lot of money down the drain. Hope it was worth the dough, bub.
9:58 p.m. Heat Dancers win the night.
10: 03 p.m. Jason Kidd wants this one bad. He just hit an eyeball-three over Eddie House. 79-71, Dallas.
10:05 p.m. 81-72 after three. It’s only nine, but may as well be Mount Rushmore. Heat have work ahead of them.
10:08 p.m. Looks like some fans are heading for the exits. WTF?!
10:10 p.m. Spo is sweating buckets on the Heat bench. Fidgety as ever. A loss could very well be it for him.
10:11 p.m. Dwyane Wade with the potential and-one. Heat down six.
10:17 p.m. 85-77, Dallas. 9:30 to play. The season comes down to this. About to see some true colors.
10:19 p.m. Dwyane Wade just dribbled the ball off of his foot, and LeBron followed that up with an airball. My oh my.
10:26 p.m. It’s a wrap. Book it. 94-84, Dallas. 5:50 left to play.
10:28 p.m. I’m gonna disconnect in a minute and maneuver my way down to press area/locker rooms/etc. I’ll hit you with all the inside info I can glean once I’m back.
2:30 a.m. Sights, sounds, everything just amazing. Have to book my return flight real quick and snatch a few zzzs, so think I’m gonna do an entirely separate postgame post tomorrow. Night…