Posted by Royce Young
The Mavericks have made their living this postseason on two things, three I guess if you count Dirk: 1) really good, creative defense and 2) consistent shooting. One of those two things can stay a constant no matter what. But another can sometimes come and go.
And if the Mavs gifted touch were to leave them, their chances at a championship likely will too.
Unlike the Heat, the Mavs don't have the ability to really grind out wins. That's why the Western Conference Finals were pretty much the exact opposite of the Eastern Finals. The Mavs won with some timely offense, a pretty consistent defense and incredible shot-making in big moments.
Another thing? They made darn near every free throw they took. In their extremely tight five-game win over the Thunder, the Mavs made 134 of 153 free throws. That's almost 88 percent as a team. Now historically, the Mavs are one of the best free throw shooting teams every season. But if that were to disappear for a game and they missed eight or nine, it could be the difference between winning and losing.
The Heat play more of an attacking, brutal brand of basketball. The Mavs play a bit more finesse, using the mid-range jumpshot and a lot of drive and kick to open up looks. Miami's plan is a bit more reliable because in playoff style games, especially when you play the same team over and over, the grind out type of game beats the jumpshooting style most times.
That is, unless the jumpshooting stays good. Which so far in the postseason for the Mavericks it has. Opening round against the Blazers, Dallas shot the ball well. Against the Lakers, everyone expected them to cool at some point. They didn't. And against the Thunder -- a solid defensive team that closes on shooters well -- the Mavs stayed above 40 percent in every game and still used the 3-pointer effectively.
Now the Heat though are one of the truly elite defense teams. Especially on the perimeter where Dwyane Wade and LeBron James can limit penetration almost all on their own because of their man-to-man skills. So it will be up to the Mavericks to hit contested shots consistently. In at least four games, that is.
Another worst case for the Mavs is the dreaded "O" word -- officiating. Not because of what happened in 2006 necessarily, but in a game where one team attacks the rim hard and the other doesn't quite as much, a group of referees can sometimes take over a game.
Dirk has gotten the benefit of the whistle most of this postseason, taking 24 free throws in Game 1 versus the Thunder. But if points become very difficult to find in the last six minutes of a game and the Heat are attacking the paint, the whistle could turn against Dallas. I'm not saying that will happen, but in terms of worst-case, a Maverick nightmare definitely included an official awarding free throws possession after possession to Wade and LeBron un crunch time.
In that same vein, Tyson Chandler could prove to be the most important player in the series. He can protect the rim, seal off the paint and keep Wade and LeBron from driving at the iron non-stop. But if the game is touchy and he finds himself in foul trouble, the world could open up for the Heat. So if you're following me here, worst-case, the way a game is called could affect how the Mavs play.
The Heat are the favorites in this series. Most look at their talent and the fact that all the apparent weaknesses they had during the regular season -- depth, role players, execution -- aren't having nearly the same affect right now. So far, the Heat have disposed of every opponent in five games. And if things go bad for the Mavs, the same fate could be headed at them. Shoot the ball poorly, go cold, give away points or get in foul trouble and Dirk and company might be coming back empty handed from The Finals again.
Dallas Mavericks: NBA Finals nightmare scenario
Posted on: May 29, 2011 6:30 pm
Edited on: May 29, 2011 11:38 pm
Tags: 2011 Finals, 2011 Heat-Mavericks, 2011 Mavericks-Heat, 2011 NBA Finals, 2011 NBA Playoffs, Brendan Haywood, Caron Butler, Chris Bosh, Corey Brewer, DeShawn Stevenson, Dirk Nowitzki, Dwyane Wade, Eddie House, Erick Dampier, Erik Spoelstra, Finals, Ian Mahinimi, Jamal Magliore, James Jones, Jason Kidd, Jason Terry, Jason Terry, Joel Anthony, Jose Barea, LeBron James, Mario Chalmers, Mark Cuban, Mark Cuban, Miami Heat, Mike Bibby, Mike Miller, NBA Finals, NBA Playoffs, NBA Playoffs, Pat Riley, Peja Stojakovic, Rick Carisle, Shawn Marion, Tyson Chandler, Udonis Haslem, Zydrunas Ilgauskas