Fascinating Game 7 last night. Miami had Detroit on the ropes with five or six different possessions in the final quarter, but every time that happened, the Heat always ended up getting a bad shot (how 'bout some of those Keyon Dooling possessions???) and allowed the Pistons to hang around. Even when Shaq was looking unstoppable down the stretch, I thought they were pulling it out.
And then this sequence happened:
2:02 remaining, Miami up 2 Shaq kicks it back out from a double-team; Damon Jones (truly atrocious for the entire game) isn't patient enough, penetrates, leaves his feet (Bob Cousy's ultimate no-no) and throws the ball away. Detroit roars down the court and executes a flawless fast break for a Hamilton layup. Tie score. Seriously, how many teams in the league would have gotten two points off that Jones play? Two? Three?
1:45, tie game Shaq gets fouled, makes one of two FTs.
1:25, Miami up 1 Rasheed posts up, draws a foul, makes both FTs.
1:15, Miami down 1 Wade takes a terrible jumper with 15 seconds on the shot clock.
0:56, Miami down 1 Prince misses driving layup; Rasheed tips it in for two.
0:47, Miami down 3 Wade tied up on out-of-control, Pierce-like spin drive. Pistons win the jump ball. Of course they do.
0:20, Miami down 3 Detroit runs shot clock down to last few seconds; Prince gets stripped, Miami gets a pseudo fast break in which Jones gets fouled (horrible call, by the way). Jones misses 1 of 2.
0:17, Miami down 2 Billups fouled, makes both.
0:12, Miami down 4 Alley-oop for Shaq.
0:11, Miami down 2 Billups fouled, makes both. Game over.
Bottom line: If you allow these Pistons to hang around, you can't screw up against them in crunch time. The way Detroit takes care of business in tight games is positively Belichick-esque. That's why they won.
So the question remains: Would Miami have won this game with a healthy Dwyane Wade? I say yes, and here's why: With the exception of one productive stretch in the third quarter, he couldn't have played worse he took bad shots, tried to do too much, didn't give them any rebounding or fast-break points. Clearly, he was three steps beyond hampered by that rib injury (note: I thought the Heat were playing possum by keeping him out of Game 6). If you were grading Game 7 against every other performance from the season, you would probably give him a D or a D-plus, and still, Miami nearly won the game. So if Wade was a B-plus instead of a D-plus in Game 7, what would have happened? You have to think Miami wins, right?
But here's the thing: Wade took an inordinate amount of punishment all season because he hasn't learned how to pick his spots yet. Just two weeks ago, I read a Sports Illustrated feature about him that brought up his reckless drives and the whacks he's taken from bigger guys, and Wade said something to the effect of, "I'm a young guy; I've been getting knocked down since I was 4 years old, so I know how to fall so I don't get injured."