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Mavs-Heat Finals spark an Uncle Barky shoot-around

ABC's game faces heighten the drama of NBA Finals. Photos: Ed Bark

Girding for Game 5 while throwing out a few talking points:

***It would be a capital crime, under NBA jurisdiction at least, if stone-handed former Dallas Maverick Erick Dampier got a championship ring while sitting on the Miami Heat bench at the expense of Dirk Nowitzki coming away empty again. Life isn't fair, but c'mon, give us a break.

***If Dallas survives the Heat and wins its first NBA crown, it would be the No. 1 Dallas sports story ever. At least it would be from this perspective, given the evil empire implications and the last-ditch chances for all of these veteran Mavs. Also, virtually no one on the planet picked the Mavs to make it to the NBA Finals. Here are my No. 2 through No. 5 runner-ups.

2. The Dallas Cowboys win their first Super Bowl under coach Tom Landry.
3. The Texas Rangers beat their longtime post-season nemesis, the New York Yankees, to advance to their first World Series.
4. The Cowboys stun the San Francisco 49ers on their home field and then win their first Super Bowl in the Jerry Jones era.
5. (tie) The Cowboys lose on the last play of the game after Green Bay Packers quarterback Bart Starr sneaks into the end zone in the epic "Ice Bowl" game. The Cowboys beat the Minnesota Vikings in a 1975 playoff game on Roger Staubach's "Hail Mary" pass to Drew Pearson.

***Even Rodney Beaubois likely would have fared better than Jason Kidd did in Game 4. Kidd had perhaps his worst post-season game ever, with 0 points, 3 assists, 3 rebounds and 4 turnovers in 39 minutes of action. His only plus-side stat was 3 steals. Kidd is due for a 15-point, 10-assist explosion, and Game 5 would be the perfect time for it. With backup center Brendan Haywood likely out and Shawn Marion limping, the Mavs need a superhuman effort from the oldest starting point guard in the history of The Finals. Do you really want that ring, JKidd? Then go for it.

***I still fear the Sleeping Giant. LeBron James remains a beast despite his ineffectual Game 4. He's hit bottom, and the Mavericks will have to be ready for a big bounce-back in Game 5. That's OK, if it's at the expense of Dwyane Wade's points. But if the two of them get rolling big-time in tandem, it'll take 40 by Dirk to keep the Mavs in the game.

***Has there ever been a more drama-laden NBA Finals, at least through the first four games? Not that I can recall. ABC is reaping the ratings rewards, which include a huge percentage of the audience in the advertiser-coveted 18-to-49 age range. And the lion's share of those viewers are young males, the most elusive audience in all of television. ABC's only complaint: Why isn't this a best of 17 series?

***Finally, is Game 5 a must-win for the Mavericks? Of course it is. This team has confounded the experts all season, but it would be a true Herculean feat for Dallas to win the last two games on Miami's home court after going down 3-2. So let's not kid or Kidd ourselves. The Mavs have to come away winners Thursday night. Does anyone think otherwise -- or have any other talking points to add?