Fast forward to around six minutes left in the fourth quarter. A streaking Mario Chalmers finds Dwyane Wade in the corner; Wade fades back and sinks a three to put the Miami Heat ahead by a score of 88-73.
Ball game. Right?
Not so fast.
If you follow me on Twitter, you would have seen me repeatedly warning Heat fans of their team growing complacent after going on significant runs or building substantial leads. Miami has a history of doing that this season and complacency can be deadly, especially on this stage.
Surely enough, what happened? Complacency once again struck the Miami Heat. Bad decisions plagued their offense. Lackluster efforts dragged down their defense.
The unraveling began with Wade coming back on the possesion following his dagger three pointer. All alone beyond the arc, with plenty of open space leading to the lane and 12 seconds remaining on the shot clock, Wade should have taken the ball to the rim and attacked – that would have been the ideal situation.
But he didn't.
Instead, Miami's star shooting guard jacked up an ill-advised three pointer, hoping to keep the momentum going in their favor. It had the complete opposite effect.
The frustrating part is there was simply no need for any three-pointers at that point in the game with that large of a lead.
The breakdown would only get worse for Miami, followed by more three pointers missed by Wade and LeBron James. The Heat's defense collapsed, including Chris Bosh blanking out on the final possession and forgetting that his team had a foul to give while guarding Dirk Nowitzki.
The only bright spot for Miami would be Chalmers' clutch, game-tying three with just 24 seconds remaining. Kansas Jayhawks couldn't help but smile and think back to 2008.
The sad fact is the three ball ended up being useless, as well as plenty of other highlight-reel plays by James and Wade throughout the night. Miami had the game won and simply let it go. Instead of keeping their foots on the Dallas Mavericks' throats, the Heat made the fatal mistake of letting up and giving them life.
And they paid for it, dearly.
However, if there was ever a team prepared to bounce back from a frustrating, embarrassing moment like this - it's the Miami Heat. Overly scrutinized and excessively criticized all year long, the Heat are more than familiar with this situation.
In the postgame press conference, a confident pair of Wade and James sat at the podium expressing that tonight was disappointing, but they will play better in game three and be up for the challenge. After seeing what they've done in potential bounce-back games all year, it's not very difficult to believe them.
All hope is not lost for Miami, though this loss certainly hurts very much so. Game three should be seen as a must win for the Heat, as going down 2-1 away from home is never a pleasant situation to be in.
Look for James and Wade to each come out and show their resiliency with impressive performances in game three, leading the Heat to a 2-1 series lead. If they don't, the outlook gets a lot more dreary for the South Beach super-friends.
Ladies and gentlemen, we have a long series ahead of us. Buckle up.
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