The Dallas Mavericks are a victory from claiming the title that James came to Miami to win. It would forever alter Nowitzki’s reputation, which has already been elevated enormously during this series as he’s ignored injury and illness.
“That’s just a part of the game if you’re the star or the face of the franchise,” Nowitzki said Saturday. “If you win, it’s great for you, and everybody looks at you. And if you lose, you’re going to get hammered. It’s just part of the business. I think we understand that, we’ve been around long enough. I got the hammered the last 13 years, basically. So hopefully this year I can make the hammering go away for a year.”
He has two shots at it. The Mavs can win their first title Sunday night, or Tuesday if the Heat force a seventh game.
That would require a stronger effort from James, who this time a year ago was coming off his second straight MVP award and was three weeks from becoming among the most sought-after free agents in sports history.
Now he’s the guy who can’t produce in the fourth quarters, with 11 total points in five games, the one with the big name but the puny stats who had to spend part of his off day answer all sorts of questions about what’s happened to him.
_Are those 44 minutes per game you’re playing too much?
“I wouldn’t say it’s too much. I don’t think so,” James said. “I don’t feel like I’m hurting my team for the time I’m out there. I don’t feel like it’s too much.”
_Is something wrong with your shot technique?
“At this point, I don’t think technique has anything to do with it,” James said. “Shots go in, shots don’t go in. I don’t stop to think about my technique or anything like that.”
_Are you simply feeling the pressure of the finals stage?
“I think the game of basketball can be pressure,” James said. “It doesn’t matter if it’s the finals or the conference finals or first round. Playoff basketball is all about pressure, how you can handle it.”
James did allow that perhaps he hasn’t been as aggressive in the fourth quarter because Dwyane Wade has been playing so well. Wade is averaging 28.4 points _ 11 more than James, who also trails Chris Bosh.
“He’s one of the best players in the world,” Wade said. “So we’re not necessarily concerned about him to that extent. I want him to play and feel confident.”View Entire Story
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