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Crowd is alive, too.

Exactly the start Dallas wanted, exactly what Miami wanted to avoid.


With the teams now on the court for warmups, here’s a few notes and quotes to help get you going before Game 5 of the NBA finals:

_ LeBron James does not have a double-digit scoring quarter in these finals.

_ His points (24, 20, 17, 8) and field goals (9, 8, 6, 3) have decreased in every game of this series.

_ He hasn’t taken more than four free throws in any game during this series. First time that’s happened over a four-game stretch all season. He’s taken 14 free throws against the Mavs. Consider this: He took more than 14 in seven different games this year.

_ No team in the finals has topped 96 points since Boston beat the Lakers 103-94 in Game 2 last season.

_ Someone’s going to have a happy birthday. Miami’s Udonis Haslem turns 31 today, and Dallas’ Peja Stojakovic turns 34. (Heat center Zydrunas Ilgauskas turned 36 on Sunday, when the Heat won Game 3.)

_ Mavs coach Rick Carlisle had a number of one-liners in his pregame media session. Noting that all the talk leading up to Game 5 has been about James, Carlisle noted that LeBron is “going to come out and he’s going to impact the game. The amazing thing to me, Dwyane Wade scored 32 points, and I haven’t gotten one question how I’m going to deal with him. That’s what I’m shocked about.” Carlisle also added that Wade “killing us is not good.”

And a quick observation: Maybe the in-game arena promo here shouldn’t say it’s “time to gear up for the postseason” anymore. Me thinks that point has passed, given how tonight is Dallas’ home finale.


Welcome to Game 5, with LeBronwatch back in effect, Dirk’s illness still a talking point, and a Dallas police official asking where his SWAT team can park outside the arena.

(Absolutely true. Can’t make that up.)

Tied at two games apiece, the winner tonight will hold a colossal advantage going back to Miami, and LeBron James _ he of the eight-point effort in Game 4 _ tweeted very early this morning that it’s “Now or Never!!”

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