This was how the game turned completely upside down:
Shaq hit two huge free throws. While Dwayne Wade and Dirk Nowitzki each missed a key one.
The Dirk miss was the biggest....sending a game that would've been tied into a game that the Mavs trailed by a point with a second remaining. After Wade hit one of two FTs.....the Mavs inbound play to try to tie the game went for naught, and the NBA Finals are now a 2-1 series.
Miami did so by making a 13 point comeback in the 4th quarter. With 6:33 left, Dallas was up 89-76. Miami then went on a 22-7 run to end the game. The Mavericks played like a soccer team [ha, I knew I could get the World Cup in there], just hanging onto the ball...waiting for the game to end. They took long jumpers, made bad offensive fouls and just weren't as hungry as Miami was desperate.
But...let's not always dwell on what went wrong. There was a lot of great plays in this game down the stretch. Udonis Haslem's huge steal of a pass to Nowitzki. Then calmly knocking down both free throws [he was 0-for-4 up to that point] and giving Miami the lead. The great move by Devin Harris to tie the game again. The big game winning shot by Gary Payton to put the Heat up two with 9 seconds left.
Also, I've ripped Pat Riley in this series. But he made what may be the Finals' biggest coaching decision. Wade picked up his 5th foul right after the final quarter got underway. Instead of taking Wade out, he kept him in there. He had 12 points after that 5th foul [and zero fouls]...all 12 part of that closing 22-7 run.
So "now we have a series". We've had one all along....but we've now went from a possible "Miami may win Game 4 but the series is over" vibe on Thursday night into a "if Miami wins Game 4 then it is a best of three series". Dallas may have kicked this series away with that bad 6 minute stretch. They had their boots on Miami's throats and let up. These are the Finals....you can't let up. And though all those stats point to Dallas still having the big advantage....they still can lose.