MIAMI (CBSMiami.com) – The Miami Heat enter Game 4 of the NBA Finals Tuesday night looking to take a commanding 3-1 lead in the series.
One of the Heat’s biggest weapons, Chris Bosh, said he’s feels “a lot better” after getting poked in the eye during the Heat’s Game 3 victory over the Dallas Mavericks. Bosh would go on to deliver the game-winning shot with time winding down in the fourth quarter.
Bosh even cracked jokes about his injury during Game 3. His teammates told each other that Game 3 would be the “hardest game.”
“Yeah, if you get poked in the eye, it’s hard,” Bosh quipped with a smile on his face, according to the South Florida Sun-Sentinel.
But it’s not just Bosh, or even LeBron James and Dwyane Wade who are helping push the Heat towards their second NBA championship. Heat point guard Mario Chalmers has become a go-to guy to keep the Mavericks’ zone defense from becoming too effective.
Chalmers is averaging 11 points per game in the NBA Finals and is shooting above 40 percent from behind the 3-point line. His game is reminiscent of his play in the NCAA Championship game a few years ago when he hit a huge 3-pointer to send the game into overtime and helped lift Kansas to the championship.
As a part of the high-energy reserves the Heat bring off the bench, Chalmers has served the team well throughout the playoffs, even though he’s been inconsistent in his scoring in the first three rounds. But as any player will tell you, it’s all about the big games at the end.
“Just trying to have no letdowns,” Chalmers told the South Florida Sun-Sentinel. “You never know when you’re going to have this moment again.”
But just as big as the play of Chalmers has been, the Heat have to continue to force Dirk Nowitzki to beat them. Dirk will get his 25-35 points per game, but the key for the Heat will be to prevent him from shooting at a high percentage.
Dirk is averaging 28.3 points per game, which is second-best in the series to Dwyane Wade who is averaging 29 points per in the NBA Finals.
When Dirk is covered, he simply doesn’t have anyone to get the ball to against the Heat. LeBron has been covering the Mavs second-best scoring option, Jason Terry, like a blanket. And in LeBron’s opinion, there’s not much either team can do at this point to counter the other.
“I don’t think it can’t be too many,” he said Monday. “I think there are slight adjustments both teams make from game to game. Like I said, Game 4 of the Finals, which you’ve been working on all season since training camp is what you have. There’s not too many things you can change.”
But don’t expect the Heat to be thinking about the fact that this could’ve and should’ve been their chance to close out the series in a sweep.
“You can’t think about stuff like that. Everything in life happens for a reason,” Dwyane Wade said Monday before practicing. “If we come in and we win that game, if we run away with that game, I don’t know if our sense of urgency is the same in Game 3. Who knows? So our sense of urgency was that way for a reason. We lost the game we know we shouldn’t. We are up 2-1. That’s what we have to focus on and worry about.”
The Mavericks also know that their proverbial backs are against the wall. If a team goes down 3-1 in the NBA Finals, they have less than a 10 percent chance of coming back to win the series. But it’s still about each and every possession as both teams play games that are so close.
“It’s a possession series,” Spoelstra said. “So many different things could happen during the course of the game. Make here, a miss here, a rebound here, a loose ball there that can change the complexion of it.”
And even though the Heat has led by double-digits in each of the first three games, the Mavericks know that eventually they won’t have the gas to overcome the deficit and possibly get blown out of a game.
“It’s very frustrating because you feel like you have to climb out of a hole we shouldn’t have,” Mavs forward Shawn Marion said. “At the same time, because we have to work that much harder to get out of them hole, we’re draining so much energy.”
The only question left to answer is how much longer the Mavericks can hold out. The Heat has proven throughout the playoffs that they can run and defend the best players in the league for an entire game and even overtime.
The Heat plays the Mavs in Game 4 of the NBA Finals Tuesday night at 9:00 p.m. on ABC.