Although this is a re-match of the 2006 NBA Championship, only 4 players remain from that series. The two who remain for the Heat, Dwyane Wade and Udonis Haslem, willed their team to win Sunday night.
Let’s start with Haslem (6 points 4 rebounds).
Fast Forward to 42 seconds left in the 4th quarter when Haslem set a pick on Dirk Nowitzki, giving Chris Bosh room to swish the eventual game winning 16 footer. Coming down the court Haslem got his chance to guard Dirk and he forced Dirk right where he could get help from Dwyane. Dirk forced a pass to Jason Terry, who missed the open three.
After a bad possession by the Heat, Haslem’s number was called again to guard Dirk in the Mavs' final possession. The play began as a mirror image of the one before. Haslem forcing Dirk to his right, but with the game on the line Haslem knew a pass wouldn’t be coming this time. As Dirk spun left, Haslem slid his feet and was able to keep his hands up and contest the shot that wouldn’t fall. After Bosh was abused off the dribble in the last seconds of game 2, it was Haslem who wanted to guard Dirk and the team’s backbone couldn’t have come up any bigger.
Moving on to Dwyane Wade (29 points, 11 rebounds).
Wade has sat back for much of the season and allowed his new superstar teammates to get acclimated with their new team and a new style of basketball. As big of a star as LeBron James is, Wade has sometimes taken a backseat to his teammate and friend. It was James who hit big shot after big shot, burying the Celtics. It was also James who carried the team against Chicago as Wade struggled.
Now it’s the Finals. Dwyane’s World.
Playing on the same court where he was Finals MVP in 2006, Wade was seen repeatedly barking at teammates after bad possessions and turnovers. Said Wade, “I want it. LeBron knew that, and things that I was saying to him, or saying to Chris, wasn’t nothing they wouldn’t say to me. I was just trying to do what leaders do and do what captains do, and step up and say what you feel at that point.” By taking charge and leading not only in points and rebounds but vocally Wade willed the Heat to a Game 3 victory.
After the game Wade said the team viewed game 3 as a “must win” scenario for the Heat. Winning game 3 takes back home court advantage for the Heat, and ensures they will at least have a chance to come back home if needed.
Since the NBA has moved to the 2-3-2 format for the finals, the winner of game 3 in a tied series has won that series 11 straight times.
Will History hold true? With Wade assuming control and Haslem playing, tough blue collared defense on Dirk, the series again shifts in favor of the Heat.
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