2011 Finals Shift to Dallas

by Maurice Bobb / @ReeseReport

So I woke up with the roosters this morning and took out a second mortgage to fill up my gas tank to drive the 200 miles to Dallas to cover all things NBA Finals for you, The SLAM Mag La Familia. Sure, it’s a tough job, but somebody’s got to do it, right?

And after killing hundreds of bugs with my windshield and three hours of “quiet time” thinking about, among other things, the NSFW pics of Blake Lively that leaked on the Internets last week, I arrived in Dallas to pick up my media credentials and immediately made a beeline into American Airlines Center for the Mavs/Heat media availability.

First up was Coach Rick Carlisle, who, even in person, looks so much like Jim Carrey, I found myself waiting for him to bust out an impromptu Fire Marshall Bill impersonation: “Lemme show ya sumthin’!”

The central theme of questions aimed at the Mavs Head Coach was his game plan for Game 3.

“We haven’t played a great game yet and neither has Miami,” Carlisle said. “It’s very unusual to win a game the way we did in Game 2. That kind of template is not going to hold up in this series long-term. We want to keep these guys off the foul line. There are a lot of situations I wish we would send them to the foul line and not allow them to go up and tear the rim down with dunks. That’s hard. The thing is if he (LeBron) gets to the launching pad and he gets that kind of force going, even if you foul him, he’s going to finish. So the situations where you try to keep him from getting to that launching area. When he and Wade get to it, they’re ridiculously great.”

Launching pad? Even when Carlisle’s not trying to be funny, he is.

Next up was Jason Terry, who detailed the inner workings of his relationship with Dirk Nowitzki.

“It’s a brotherly relationship,” Terry said. “And it’s something that has grown through our tough times we have grown closer together. Obviously, when I first came here, I was supposed to be the one replacing his best friend, Steve Nash and a lot was made of that. All in all, we’ve come and grown together.”

The criticism from the German is another story.

“Yeah, it’s funny, when we first started out, he was brutal. He was brutally honest to a point, and I took it hard. Because I didn’t have that coming from a losing situation in Atlanta. Guys didn’t really hold each other accountable. But when it’s coming from a guy that’s your leader, it means a lot. You take it to heart. And then you go out and try to do something about it. And vice versa, if I see something I don’t like with Dirk, I say, ‘Hey, big fella, we need you to get that rebound’.”

Dirkus Maximus had a somewhat different viewpoint on the relationship.

“We have kind of a love-hate relationship. It is, it is. Because we ride each other a lot. We talk to each other a lot. We argue a lot, even during games, but it’s all because we want to win. And for us he’s been phenomenal. He’s been our closer over the last couple of years. A great clutch player. Like I said, we love each other, but we also argue a lot.”

Of course, the huge, game-winning move came up, again.

“On that last move, I spun and I expected somebody to be there and there wasn’t,” Nowitzki said. “So I was able to get to the left and get to the basket. That was a big play. If there would have been somebody there, I would have had to pass to somebody and hopefully let the weak side make a shot.”

…and the finger.

“The finger is really good. Got to keep it straight. It was throbbing a little bit after the game the other night, but I guess that’s normal. And it’s going to be OK. Once the adrenaline always starts flowing during the game, I think I’m OK.”

Side note: There was a lot of German media—presumably here to cover Dirk—surrounding me in the media workroom speaking German. It was like being in that “Sprockets” skit from Saturday Night Live.

Coach Erik Spoelstra invaded our space and still had to defend “Celebration Gate.”

“We’re viewed in a different way than most teams. We have enthusiastic guys, excitable players. I would certainly rather have that than a bunch of zombies out there.”

Zombies? Well at least if LeBron and Wade were zombies, the Mavs could “double tap” them with a double-barrel shotgun to eliminate them like in that movie “Zombieland.”

I was able to tackle the guy with the boom mic to ask LeBron James a question and it went a little something like this:

“LeBron, you’ve taken on the challenge of guarding Jason Terry to a lot of effectiveness. There’s been a lot of speculation that you will step up and take on the challenge of guarding Dirk. Have you and the team talked about that and possibly adding that to your defensive game plan?”

Scintillating, huh?

“Obviously, we look at it as we have enough guys not only can guard Jason Terry and guard Dirk,” James said. “It’s a team thing. It’s not LeBron versus Shawn Marion, LeBron versus Dirk Nowitzki or LeBron versus JT or DeShawn Stevenson versus Dwyane Wade. It’s not about that. It’s about the team. Even though you have a 1-on-1 match-up on the court, there’s a team defense that’s put behind it. So if I get caught on him, it’s not like I’m playing him one-on-one. We have a team defense and guys help each other. That’s how you become successful in this league by being able to have a back line behind you. When you guard someone as great as Dirk or as great as JT is, you have to have a back line. It’s never one-on-one. It’s not a one-on-one thing. We get caught up on the 1-on-1 match-ups a lot. There’s always a defense that behind it.”

Of course, LBJ also had to answer questions about his celebration:

The best answer from Wade’s presser came when he was asked about the extra day between Games 2 and 3.

“It just makes it worse,” Wade said. “As competitors, we could have went in the locker room, got some Gatorade and came out and played again for the mistakes we made.”

Both teams looked good on the practice court and both teams seemed sure that their game plan for Game 3 would prevail.

You can bet that after getting pummeled in the final seven minutes of Game 2, the Heat are coming out and throwing everything but the kitchen sink at the Mavs and already have clearance to take flight from the “launching pad.” And you can probably wager a few Benjamin Franklins on them not repeating the defensive lapses that allowed the Mavs to go on that incredible 22-5 comeback run.

On the other side of the ball, Dallas will have to line the players’ hands with Crazy Glue to keep from turning the ball over so much (20 turnovers in Game 2).

And what’s with JJ Barea? It’s like Miami has taken out the Puerto Rican Pest with RAID bug spray or something.

The Mavs need his pesky dribble penetration and expert pick-and-roll play if they want to avoid digging the same kind of offensive hole they were in for the first 89 minutes of this series. Brendan Haywood remains questionable for Game 3, so Tyson Chandler will have to find a way to be aggressive while protecting the rim and not get into foul trouble if they want to capitalize on their home court.

Tip off is over 24 hours away from this writing, so I’m going to take a page from Dez Bryant’s book and go to Northpark Mall, pants saggin’ and see what happens.

I keed, I keed

I guess I’ll go strap on the feedbag and hang out with a few friends who are also in town covering the NBA Finals.

Adam Figman and I will be tag-teaming coverage of Game 3 right here, so be sure to log in and comment away like you always do at this time…