Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Observations from Game 4

  • This game was all about defense.  Dallas' defense was particularly impressive as far as making Miami work for shots just as Miami has done to them all series.  
  • However, defensively, Dallas struggled early rebounding the ball, allowing Miami to get some easy buckets off 9 first quarter offensive rebounds, allowing them to keep the game close early on with 8 of their 21 first quarter points on second chances.  
  • Also keeping the game close was Dallas failing to convert numerous open looks.  Specifically:
    • Nowitzki missed a few open looks in the first half after starting 3 for 3, a few shots around the basket and a few more open jumpers in the 2nd half, including an open 3-point attempt to end the 3rd quarter and another open look from beyond the 3-point line after an offensive rebound with just over three minutes left in the 4th quarter.  He even missed his first free throw of the NBA Finals.  Although his shot wasn't falling, Nowitzki did a great job getting to the line and attacking the rim late, getting two key layups. 
    • Jason Terry, had a better game due to being more aggressive and attacking the basket, something Dallas desperately needed him to do, but he also missed a number of open looks, particularly late in the game.  He missed a mid-range shot just past the free throw line with nobody near him with under three minutes left and an open 3-point attempt with less than a minute left on a pass from Dirk that could have made the win much easier.  
    • J.J. Barea, starting in place of Stevenson, was again successful in getting penetration, but again failed in putting the ball in the basket consistently.  He missed a couple easy layups in the first half.  Dallas seems to want him on the court with Kidd early to give the team a penetrating threat in the hopes of getting some ball movement when they can't find success doing so with Dirk in the high post or off the pick and roll.  With Barea on the court less with Terry as a result, Terry was forced to be more aggressive driving the ball, where he had some success.  
    • Stevenson provided a spark off the bench, not only by being the only Maverick to hit his three-point attempts consistently (although he short-armed a wide open look from the corner with a minute and a half left in the game), but by providing some defense off the bench.  With some of Dallas' best defensive players in Chandler, Marion and Kidd starting, starting Barea over Stevenson was particularly successful defensively as it gave Dallas some defense coming off the bench. 
  • Overall Dallas shot just 4 for 18 from beyond the arc, and this is not a team that takes many bad three-point attempts, so they are simply not knocking them down.
  • Although Miami won the battle on the offensive glass, Tyson Chandler again stepped up on the offensive glass after being shut out in that regard in Game 1.  With Dallas missing so many open looks, his ability to get his team second shots was critical. 
  • Kidd was again tentative offensively, missing both of his open looks, both from three, and leading the team with four turnovers, but continues to make plays on defense, including a good hard foul preventing an easy basket by Wade to tie it at 82, leading to a missed FT.
  • Marion returned to the level of efficiency that eluded him in Game 3, and was a steadying presence offensively, scoring 16 in just 26 minutes, many in isolation when Dallas needed him to make those plays most.    
  • For Miami, Wade stepped up again and making big plays on both ends of the floor as he has done all series.  Not enough can be said about Wade's play in this series, so I will just leave it at the fact that he has clearly been the best player in the series thus far.  
  • With Dallas missing shots, what allowed them to stay close enough to make a run was James' passive play offensively, where on his limited attempts he mostly settled for contested jump shots over attacking the basket.  Credit Dallas' defense, but James can certainly make a more concerted effort to get to the rim.  This hurt Miami offensively more than anything tonight. 
  • Bosh stepped up tonight, clearly more confident after making the game winning shot in Game 3.  He attacked the basket and made some easy shots inside, got to the line, and even made half his shots outside the paint.  He did however fumble a pass on a key play that resulted in a Dallas transition layup to take the lead in the 4th quarter.  
  • Chalmers has shown he is clearly the better player between he and Bibby and tonight was another example.  Despite only shooting 1 for 5, he created good shots for his teammates and was effective defensively as well.    
  • Despite falling behind by 9 points in the 4th quarter, Dallas was the more successful team as far as getting good looks at the basket.  However, it was their defense this game that gave them room for error on their failure to convert open looks offensively. Game 5 is a must win for Dallas and they will need to bring the same intensity defensively and convert on those same open looks they failed to convert tonight to ensure that they don't go back to Miami needing to win 2 games.

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