MIAMI _ Although replays show otherwise, both Miami guard Dwyane Wade and forward LeBron James wholeheartedly denied they celebrated in front of the Dallas Mavericks’ bench after the Heat went up 88-73 with 7:14 left in Thursday’s Game 2 of the NBA Finals after Wade drilled a three-point shot.
“It was no celebration at all,’’ James said. “I was excited about the fact that he hit a big shot and we went up 15.
“The same thing we've done over the course of the season. We knew we had seven minutes to go still to close out the game. As far as celebration, that word has been used with us all year, but we knew how much time was left in the game still.’’
When pressed to explain the celebration, Wade got agitated and sounded like he couldn’t believe anyone would even insinuate that he and James were celebrating in front of the Dallas bench. That would mean they were trying to rub it in the Mavs’ faces, as they did when they were screaming out loud on those many dunks which they executed in Game 2.
“First of all, every team in the league when they go on a run they do something,’’ Wade said of the Heat’s impressive 13-0 run. “Whether it's a signal, whether it's a chest bump, it's a part of the game of basketball.
“A celebration is confetti, champagne bottles. There was no celebration. It was a shot made going into a timeout. Every team does something. That's the game.’’
The Mavs used that celebration by James and Wade as fuel that led them an amazing 95-93 come-from-behind victory. Dallas ended the game on a sparkling 22-5 run that shocked the NBA world and had the Heat hanging their heads when they left the court.
Dallas’ victory ties this best-of-seven series at 1-1. The next three games are in Dallas, starting with Game 3 at 7 p.m. Sunday, so the Mavs can capture their first-ever NBA title by never leaving Dallas again.
Since the NBA went to the 2-3-2 format in 1985, when the series has been tied 1-1, the Game 3 winner has won the championship all 11 times.
It looked like the Heat was poised to go up 2-0 in this series. But they motivated the Mavs when they decided to do some fancy celebration in front of the Mavs’ bench.
“If it pumped them up -- they won the game,’’ Wade said. “Obviously it did something.
“That's not the first time. It won't be the last time that ‑‑ if we do a great play that we come (out) and our teammates and we do something.’’
Over the final 6:19 of the game, the Mavs took total control of the proceedings as they were 9-of-10 from the field, while the Heat was just 1-of-10 from the floor. Dallas also outrebounded Miami during that surge, 7-2.
It’s been 19 years since any team in the Finals overcame a 15-plus points lead in the fourth quarter and won a game.
More importantly, the Heat’s top two weapons – James and Wade – combined to go 0-of-6 from the field with just two points in the game’s final 6:19.
And that celebration didn’t help the Heat’s fortunes, regardless of how they defended their actions.
“Don't make nothing out of that celebration like you guys did in the Boston series,’’ said Wade, referring to a Heat celebration when they closed out the Celtics. “It's just being excited about the moment.
“It had nothing to do with the outcome of the game for us.’’
But it certainly did for the Mavs.
-- Dwain Price
Follow me on Twitter