NBA Finals: Dirk needs help
DALLAS ó As exciting as it is to watch Dirk Nowitzki make shot after shot in the NBA finals, the Dallas Mavericks donít want to keep doing that.
Nowitzki needs help ó from someone. Anyone.
The supporting cast that helped carry Nowitzki and the Mavericks into the NBA finals has shriveled under the pressure of this stage, the defense of the Miami Heat or a little of both.
The Mavs trail 2-1 going into Game 4 on Tuesday night mainly because they arenít scoring enough. Their average of 88.3 points per game is down 11.4 from the previous three rounds.
Nowitzki is contributing 28.3 points, almost exactly his postseason average coming in. The drop-off is everywhere else, especially among the three guys who are supposed to provide instant offense from the bench: Jason Terry, J.J. Barea and Peja Stojakovic.
Terryís slump hurts the most.
He and Nowitzki were among the leagueís top fourth-quarter scoring tandems this season. The Heat threw that off with the surprise move of having 6-foot-8 LeBron James cover the 6-foot-2 Terry. He was shut out in the fourth quarters of Game 1 and 3, the ones Dallas lost.
Terry was a big part of the Mavericksí winning rally in Game 2, scoring the first six points in a 22-5 surge and eight overall. In Game 3, when Nowitzki scored Dallasí final 12 points, Terry went 0 for 4 in the fourth quarter, including a 21-footer with the game tied in the final minute.
ěJet (Terryís nickname) hasnít really been a crunch-time, clutch player for us the way we need him to,î Nowitzki said Monday. ěWe have to find a way to get Jet some freedom and get him off some movement, and heís got to make some shots for us.î
Confidence is never a problem for Terry. This is a guy who got the finals trophy tattooed to his right biceps in October and vows to have it removed if the Mavs donít win it all. On Monday he vowed that if he again gets the same shots he missed down the stretch in Game 3, ěI bet I make them.î
Perhaps tempting fate, Terry also questioned whether James ěcan defend me like that for seven gamesî and claimed that first-round foe Portland played better defense than Miami. He also said that if Dallas can score 100 points, ěthey canít beat us.î