DALLAS - Dwyane Wade refused to look back.
No, he said, before practice Monday, he doesn't consider that the Miami Heat should have a three-games-to-none lead in the best-of-seven NBA Finals.
The margin is 2-1, close on the scoreboard even though it doesn't feel that way on the floor. The Heat have repeatedly built double-digit cushions against the Dallas Mavericks, and a late collapse in Game 2 is all that's keeping them from the lead that's never been blown in an NBA series.
"You can't think about stuff like that. Everything in life happens for a reason," Wade said. " . . . We are up, 2-1. That's what we have to focus on and worry about."
Though Wade did grab LeBron James late in the fourth quarter of Game 3 to tell him to focus. James is having what, for him, is a down series so far: 20.3 points, 6.7 rebounds, and 6 assists per game on just over 50 percent shooting from the field. James is shrugging off the criticism. The Heat are two wins from a title, and to him that's the only number that matters now.
"Anybody that knows me throughout the years, all I care about is the 'W' no matter if I'm scoring," he said.
As for the Mavericks, they refuse to admit they might just be facing a superior foe.
"We're just too stubborn," point guard Jason Kidd said.
But the Mavs will have trouble beating them without more help for Dirk Nowitzki. Already a team without a certified No. 2 option, Dallas has looked even weaker in its losses, when James defended top reserve Jason Terry in the fourth quarter and held him without a basket in either.
Nowitzki said Dallas has to free its other perimeter shooters for better looks so they "don't chase them down 15 all night long, which takes a lot of energy out of everybody."
"It's very frustrating, because you feel like you have to climb out of a hole we shouldn't have," forward Shawn Marion said.
Game 4 is Tuesday in Dallas.
OAKLAND, Calif. - The Golden State Warriors have hired Mark Jackson to replace Keith Smart, giving the former point guard and television analyst his first chance to be a head coach on the game's biggest stage.
The 46-year-old Jackson played 17 years as a point guard in the NBA, for New York, the Clippers, Indiana, Denver, Toronto, Utah, and Houston and was rookie of the year in 1988.