With Dallas leading the series 3-2, the teams returned to Miami and put on quite a show. They traded big runs, traded the lead several times and even traded shoves during a timeout midway through the second quarter.
Back home after three games in Dallas, the Heat were trying to extend their season until Game 7 on Tuesday night. That also would keep alive hopes for their second championship, and first clinched on their home floor. When they beat the Mavericks in ‘06, they polished it off in Dallas.
Miami opened the game with the new wrinkle of Chalmers at point guard, in place of Mike Bibby. It was his first start this postseason.
But it was a strong start by James that got Miami rolling. He made his first four shots _ all on jumpers _ and the Heat were up 20-11. When Nowitzki went to the bench with two fouls soon after, it looked like things were about to open up. And they did; for Dallas.
The Mavericks went on a lengthy, lopsided stretch that included all sorts of surprising contributions: three 3-pointers from DeShawn Stevenson, another 3 by Brian Cardinal and a Nowitzki-esque, one-legged, stepback jumper by Ian Mahinmi. Dallas wound up leading 40-28, its biggest lead all series.
Then it was Miami’s turn.
The Heat scored the next 14 points, a run opened and closed by 3 pointers from House. Dallas tried cooling him off by calling timeout. As the teams went to the bench, Haslem walked off with his fist raised, Stevenson bumped into him and soon mouths and bodies were moving. Chalmers ran in and Stevenson shoved him. Teammates tried restraining guys and nearly everyone was on the court before officials could regain control.
After watching replays, officials called technical fouls against Haslem, Chalmers and Stevenson. Dallas wound up with one free throw and began edging back toward the lead. They finally got it on a 3-pointer by Terry that made it 51-49.
The Mavs kept feeding Nowitzki in hopes of getting him on track. But he had a fadeaway jumper go in and out, missed badly from the other side, then saw a 3-pointer go in and out in the closing seconds.
Dallas was 3-0 in knockout games this postseason. One more and Mark Cuban’s franchise will have its first title in its 31st season.
Miami’s home-court advantage was infiltrated by hundreds or even thousands of Mavs fans. As Dallas’ lead peaked in the second quarter, they sure got a lot louder.