Sunday Mavs Donuts: ABC. Always Be Closing

Sunday Morning Mavs Donuts: Which one of these teams is Alec Baldwin and Al Pacino and which one of these teams is Alan Arkin and Jack Lemmon? A dozen observations that take you inside tonight's Game 3 of the NBA Finals, Heat-at-Mavs, in Donuts!

DONUT 1: The Dallas Mavericks, under the guidance of Carlisle and Kidd -- and with the ball being fed to Dirk -- are princes of close-game wins. (Not to mention postseason comebacks.) They are Alec Baldwin and Al Pacino in "Glenngarry Glen Ross.'' (nsfw, as you may know.)

ABC. Always Be Closing.

The Heat? Employing what Dirk calls "two of the best closers in the game'' in LeBron and Wade, they must be pretty much automatic in gaining leads and keeping leads and winning, say, five-point games, right?

DONUT 2: Wrong.

They come into Sunday's 7 p.m. having to be harboring at least the tiniest bit of self-doubt as to their ABC abilities.

Why? Rather incredibly, their record in the regular season in games decided by five points or fewer was a putrid 6-14.

Have they ironed out some problems over the course of the months? Presumably. ... though in the playoffs Miami is 1-2 in games decided by five points or less.

Maybe that's because they figure on winning so many games by six or more so it's insignificant. Or maybe it's a vulnerability that Dallas can exploit ... and therefore what Dallas needs to do for damn sure is make certain its withing close striking distance in the final minutes.

And then we'll see who is ABC.

DONUT 3: Oh, you should've been at practice with us on Saturday!

Of course, over 1,000 of you were and are. ...

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DONUT 4: While we're picking at Miami's sunburned carcass ...

Why didn't they foul on Dirk's final possession in Game 2? The UberMan was certain the Heat was going to use the foul it had to give ... and what's more, there are indications out of Miami that coach Erik Spoelstra ordered his fellas to use the foul ...

And that they didn't bother.

Is that mutiny? Or at the least, disrespectful arrogance directed at a coach who looks like my paperboy? (Well, like a paperboy would look if anybody bought the paper anymore.)

They didn't double Dirk and they didn't hurry over to help and they didn't put their best defender on him.

Is that arrogance? Or coaching stupidity?

And if arrogance and coaching stupidity are vulnerabilities, can Dallas' Dirk-keyed humility and Dallas' Carlisle/Kidd-led BBIQ take advantage?

Which would be better for Dallas: If Spoelstra gives improper direction to his team? Or if whatever direction Spoelstra gives to his team is ignored?

How about both?

DONUT 5: My pal Nancy Lieberman and I are still debating this: She says Miami keeps launching 3's because they think they're good at it. I say they're launching 3's because Dallas is "giving'' them those shots.

Nancy is infinitely smarter than I am, so can we compromise and say (again) "both''?

The Mavs have challenges (and foul trouble) once Miami gets to the rim. Normally, Miami gets to the rim against everyone, with spectacular results, too. So what if I sit in a zone, focus on taking away your drive and don't run you off your 3's?

You are Dwyane Friggin' Wade. You are LeBron Friggin' James.

You are being "given'' 3's. So you take them.

But wait: During the regular season, Miami averaged 16 attempted 3-point FGA's per game. But now in the NBA Finals they are taking 27 per?

There are high rewards out there. But Miami isn't good at it. And them doing so keeps TY out of foul trouble. And the parade to the FT line -- the one that haunts from 2006 -- never happens.

And one way or the other, Nancy's way or mine, the more 3's Miami shoots, the better chance Dallas has of remaining alive.

DONUT 6: One more note about the spetacular nature of Miami's Slam-Dunk Contest: It's a home-game thing. Fires up the crowd. Motivates the bench. Forces opponent timeouts, even. Creates a bit of a noisy carousel in everybody's head.

But that won't happen tonight. Oh, there will be Miami dunks. But there won't be any noisy carousel.

Tonight, especially, a dunk only counts two points. Millions in Nikeatoradetmobileadiddas money. But only two points.

Tonight the inspiration can come for the home team, with the home crowd digging stuff like this ...

DONUT 7: Beyond some of the on-court questions, we were also given a glimpse on Saturday into the relationship between Dirk and Terry. And, perhaps not surprisingly (especially given that Nash was at Game 2 in Miami, and visited with Dirk after the game), Steve Nash's name came up in the response from each.

"We have a kind of love/hate relationship," Dirk said with as wide of a grin as he'll allow. "You know," he paused as the media laughed, "it is, it is, ‘cause we ride each other a lot, we talk to each other a lot, and we argue a lot, even during games, but it's all because we want to win, we want to play together. You know, it was big getting him, because when we lost Steve (Nash), obviously this franchise was down, to lose a great player like that, but give Donnie some credit he brought in Jet … it was a big move."

You have Dirk's side, now read what Terry had to say on the same subject.

"Well, you know, it's a brotherly relationship, and it's something that has grown," Terry said. "You now, through our tough times we have grown closer together. Obviously, when I first came here I was supposed to be the one replacing his best friend in Steve Nash, and a lot was made of that, but all in all, we've come and grown together. Obviously, our chemistry on the court, while we're playing is tremendous. It's what fuels this team. And then off the court, it's genuine. We're always honest and upfront with each other, and that's why I say it's like a brothership."


DONUT 8: Communicate! We communicate these sorts of Mavericks thoughts at, as we have for a dozen years, in many formats. Thousands of Mavs fans just like you are on the Boards! ... on the Mavs Facebook Page ... Thanks for hangin' out with us!

DONUT 9: Rick on his Friday radio show regarding Big Wood's hip problem:

"We'll know more (Saturday). He was not feeling well when he left the game. If he's able to play I'm sure he'll play. If not we'll have to adjust."

How to adjust, panel of experts?

*TY, you go play 40 and stay outta foul trouble - even if that means adjusting to not help on drivers.

*TY, you play those 40 but go hard cuz The Ianimal's gotcha covered.

*Cardinal, get The Custodian tools ready because you might have to pretend ur a center.

*Everybody, let's go small cuz Miami's 6-8 inside anyway.

DONUT 10: Meanwhile, here's the analysis from's David Lord:

"I don't play Haywood if he's not healthy. In fact, if it's a severe hip pointer, it's not even going to be under consideration, because he wouldn't even be able to make it up and down the court. In the best case scenario, Haywood is back for Game 5. But more realistically, we can figure he's done for the playoffs.

"I think going small plays right into Miami's hands. It gives away a significant Mavs advantage.''

So . ...

DONUT 11: D-Lord continues: "I'd probably try to do a bit of all of the above ideas, to cover the missing 15 minutes.

*Five minutes of Chandler - Play a few more minutes of Chandler, making him accountable to lessen his fouls a bit. But I'm only going to stretch his rotation a minute here or there, rather than alter it, because I don't want to solve one problem (filling those missing minutes) by creating another (lessening Chandler's effectiveness by increasing his caution or by fatiguing him).

*Five minutes of Ian - try it out and hope for the best - intermixed with a few minutes of (a) Cardinal alongside Dirk and a few minutes of (b) 3 guards with Dirk-Marion as the big men. But if Ian is effective, I'd stretch his minutes further, even up to as many as all of Haywood's.


One note of caution on Ian: while he's very agile and athletic, Ian is not a good defender at all because he's incredibly bad on defensive rotations. He simply gets lost far too often, leading to easy dunks and put backs. So Carlisle will have to manage his minutes carefully and keep a close eye on whether or not the Heat are able to exploit him being on the floor.''

DONUT 12: Time will tell if this works out, but there are two more "3's'' to consider: Three straight home games, of course; no hotels, no distracting demands, no temptations. And three days of no games leading up to tonight. Dirk with rest? Kidd and Terry and Marion with rest? It's a schedule-makers' favor that needs to be taken advantage of.

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