Monday, June 6, 2011

Observations from Game 3

  • Miami's active and athletic defense is still making it difficult for Dallas to get open looks anywhere near the consistency that they did in the Western Conference Playoffs.  It isn't news that James in particular is making things very difficult for Terry.  Dallas is scoring field goals almost exclusively from the outside as Miami is ferociously contesting everything at the rim.  Nothing is coming easy for Dallas, particularly when they go away from Nowitzki.  
  • Although Nowitzki scored 34 points, in my opinion Dallas did not use him enough, particularly before the 4th quarter, to start the offense, force help, and get ball movement to get his teammates open shots.  The talk after the game was that Nowitzki needs help, but the best way Dallas can get shots for the rest of their players is still through Nowitzki, whether he starts with the ball in the high post or gets it through the pick and roll.  He provides the only real advantage offensively for Dallas that requires Miami to help, allowing others to get free.  
  • Haslem made it very difficult to get Nowitzki the ball, particularly in the 4th quarter, fronting him effectively and denying the ball. 
  • Barea is still able to get penetration, but unless he starts to finish at the rim, he won't be a big enough threat to get his teammates open.  Stojakovic in particular needs the chaos that Barea is capable of creating in order to get the open shots he hit so consistently in the Western Conference Playoffs.  
  • The lack of ball movement is also hurting Terry, who hasn't had many catch and shoot opportunities and is having to take more shots off the dribble in an effort to create shots for himself.  
  • Offensively, Miami did a phenomenal job attacking the rim.  But for a few three-point attempts by Bibby, a made open baseline jumper by Haslem, a missed contested baseline jumper by Wade, and the last second made heave by Chalmers, every shot by Miami in the 1st quarter was made towards the rim or in the paint.  After going away from that strength during Dallas' comeback in Game 2, Miami clearly came out with a purpose at the start of this game of taking shots at the rim
  • Wade was particularly aggressive, getting to the rim at will, especially in the 1st quarter.  One play, of many, by Wade that stood out was in the 2nd quarter.  Unlike in the the 4th quarter of Game 2, when Dallas went on a run (9-0 in this game), Miami got Wade the ball, who attacked the rim for a layup to stop the bleeding.  This showed focus on their part that they lost at the end of Game 2. 
  • It was obvious from the beginning that to stop Wade, Dallas was going to have to play better team D and not leave whomever was guarding him on an island.  Though Kidd stepped up individually as a defender, it took a team effort to slow him down, which Dallas did a better job of in the 2nd half.  With both Wade and James able to attack the rim so well, there is only so much Dallas can do to help.  
  • Chandler came up big with 7 offensive boards and made a number of aggressive defensive plays in the paint as well.  With Haywood injured, Dallas will need more of this from him. 
  • For the first time in the series, Marion did not step up and have a solid game.  This probably made the difference in the game, along with Haslem's ball denial in defending Nowitzki, though Mavericks fans will certainly point to the missed call on Chalmers' first quarter heave at the buzzer.  He missed some easy shots and wasn't as effective on the boards as he has been thus far.  I expect him to step up in Game 4.  
  • Stojakovic came in and Dallas ran a play for him in an effort to get him going and he made an open shot off a screen from the baseline.  However, despite his best efforts on both ends of the floor, he is still proving to be a liability defensively while still having trouble finding good shots.  During his 6 minutes on the floor, Dallas scored 11 points fewer than Miami. Unless Dallas can get him open shots with consistency, he will continue to see very limited minutes. 
  • As suspected, this series is coming down to Miami's defense against Dallas' offense, and so far, despite close games probably decided by randomness more than anything, Miami's defense is winning that battle as Dallas is having to work extremely hard for every point, while Miami is finding easy opportunities at the rim.  The fact that these games have been close is a testament to Dallas' superior jump shooting ability.  

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