Finals Give and Take
By John Schuhmann and Rob Peterson
As the Finals head to a pivotal Game 5, two of NBA.com's features editors chatted it up on the biggest issues of the series. Rob Peterson and John Schuhmann are two hoops heads who like to argue over the cubicle wall. For the Finals, they're letting you be a fly on the tackboard.
John Schuhmann: This series was over. Up 13, six and a half to go in Game 3. Now, everything has changed. Even after Game 3, I was thinking that Dallas was the better team, but now, I'm not so sure.
Rob Peterson: I still think they're the deeper team, and possibly the better team, but they're not playing like it though.
R.P.: And you could see last night, when the Heat went to the zone, they had no one to break it, especially when the Deutsche Marksman was on the bench.
R.P.: Who was going to drain the open three, Devin Harris?
J.S.: They need to attack the basket, and obviously, the zone prevented that a bit. Still, Terry and Stack should be able to knock down enough jumpers to make Riles regret using the zone like he did back in Dallas.
R.P.: Agreed, but the Dallas "O" was the coldest thing in Miami, besides Stack's cold-hearted hack of Shaq.
R.P.: Yeah, what are they going to do, tackle him?
R.P.: And I agree, the Mavs are a better defensive team than they have been in the past, but Wade sliced and diced the Pistons. He made Tayshaun Prince his valet.
R.P.: No one's stopped Wade yet. And if the Mavs choose to double team Wade, that leaves Shaq one-on-one. You can't double team two dudes.
R.P.: You'd need six guys on the floor for that... and I'm a little rusty, but I would say that's against the rules.
J.S.: Riley made a great point today: that the hand-checking rules put more of an emphasis on team defense rather than individual defense, because NBA-level guards are going to beat you one-on-one no matter what. So it's on the other guys on the floor to help and recover.
J.S.: That would certainly give Shaq some room to operate without the ball though.
R.P.: Agreed, and although I don't think Shaq's the kind of player who can dominate a series, he can still take over a game. He hasn't done that yet. Right now, the Mavs have to be thinking about which poison to take.
R.P.: And if I were the Mavs, I may lean toward letting Shaq do the damage.
J.S.: Me too. It's funny, we think of the Mavs as a better defensive team, and they certainly took Shaq out of the game in Dallas, but over the four games so far, Miami has done a much better job of making Dirk look uncomfortable.
R.P.: Uncomfortable? That's kind. You're a nice guy.
J.S.: Bad? Terrible? More like Uwe Blab?
R.P.: OK, now you're being mean.
R.P.: Dirk was good in Game 2, and decent in Game 3, but he hasn't been the stud he was in the Spurs or Suns series.
J.S.: Last time he laid an egg, he came back for 50.
R.P.: Yeah, well, 2 for 14 is a whole nest of eggs.
R.P.: I don't know if it's the stage or what, but Dallas needs "bustin' Manu in his face, the hoop and the harm" Dirk.
R.P.: Not, "kickin' his legs out, flailing the German Reggie Miller Dirk."
R.P.: Reggie lost his only Finals. Be yourself, Dirk.
J.S.: Point being, I expect a better Dirk in Game 5. In fact, I believe we'll see the best of both teams for the first time on Sunday. This is a time where I'm glad we have two days of rest.
J.S.: Especially in Miami.
R.P.: I think Miami takes it, barely.
R.P.: Only the second home team in Finals history to win the middle three.
J.S.: At this point, I'm not taking that bit of history into much account. Anything can happen in any game, but ....
J.S.: I like Dallas on Sunday. It will definitely be close though. In the long run, these two teams are pretty evenly matched, and with Game 5 being so "pivotal", I don't see either letting it get away from them.
R.P.: Yeah, but you've liked Dallas every game, so I'll take that under advisement.
R.P.: I can't see either playing a bad game.
J.S.: Agreed. Let's get to the beach ... wait. Just heard that Stack is suspended for Game 5. Can I change my prediction?
R.P.: Nope, once something hits the Internet, it can never be changed. Sorry.
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