Blog Entry

NBA Finals: Mavs hard D stifles Heat 'athletes'

Posted on: June 8, 2011 1:41 am
Edited on: June 8, 2011 2:23 am

Posted by Matt Moore

DALLAS -- Dirk's "flu" game. LeBron James wilting in the biggest moment of his career. Wade not being enough. All those storylines, and do you want know the real reason why Dallas is right back in this series and we're going to seven games?

They played the best defense you're ever going to see on a LeBron James- and Dwyane Wade-led pick-and-roll attack.

They attacked the passing lanes and were successful. They made life hard for a Heat team that seemed taken aback at how difficult it was.

"We have to get into the ball," DeShawn Stevenson said. "They don't want to play a tough game."

Let's say you don't like numbers, that you don't trust them. Watching the game it was evident that the Mavericks were so far into the Heat's pick-and-roll, so deep into their movements shutting off angles, attacking the dribble and creating majestic failure after majestic failure, you don't need a calculator or video evidence to recognize it. Tyson Chandler, Shawn Marion, and even, perhaps especially, DeShawn Stevenson, not only kept their position, but attacked relentlessly on the pick-and-roll. Often, they battled it all the way out to mid-court, and created abject chaos. Again, there's no screencap necessary to see that, no calculation needed as proof. The Mavericks drove the Heat offense, which seemed unstoppable after Game 1, into the ground. They buried it, and stuck a tombstone on it that read "You're athletic. We're many. We want it more tonight."

Let's say you do want the evidence, that you're fully prepared to embrace the facts, since they are inescapable. Synergy Sports had the Heat clocked at 34 possessions resulting in a shot or turnover from the ball-handler or roll-man. Of those 34 possessions, the Heat scored just 17 points. So, every time they went to the pick-and-roll in Game 4, they scored just .50 points on each possession, a half a point every time they ran it. They had eight, count 'em, eight turnovers out of those sets. They turned the ball over out of the pick-and-roll, then they scored.

How did they do it? Stevenson said it was a matter of getting "into the ball."

"We pushed the ball out further," Stevenson said after his best game of the series on both sides of the ball, despite being removed from the starting lineup. "And (we) stayed into the ball. We can't let them get into free space, they can split the screen. We have to stay into the ball."

Tyson Chandler who had a monster game controlling both sides of the glass, scoring, and helping all the way out in those situations said it was necessary with the kind of athleticism the Heat are throwing at them.

"They put so much pressure on you," Chandler said, noting how Dwyane Wade's dribble hesitation really created problems. "But we did a better job tonight of kind of stringing them out and making the rotations."

In a series where every possession is crucial, and with so few of them to go around ... With the defensive pressure so high, and every game living and dying with the final moments, it was the Mavs ability to turn the "skirmish" tables on the Heat and blow right by them. Coach Rick Carlisle isn't crediting any sort of great defensive scheme for the successes.

"We've got a team system, and the schemes we're using aren't very complex. It's just all about hard play."

Hard play and toughness. You know, the type of game that, in Game 4, the Heat wanted no part of. Now the series is tied, and we get to see what the Heat are made of.

We know what Dallas is.

Since: Jan 17, 2011
Posted on: June 8, 2011 2:02 am

NBA Finals: Mavs give tough game to the Heat on D

Dallas played with a lot of passion in a must-win situation.  However, the Heat were in position to win the game had Lebron James hit even 2 more baskets.

This series seems to be boiling down to whether Lebron James can score the basketball sufficiently to help the Heat win while maintaining his rebounding, defense and assists where he has been pretty solid.  Instead of choking, I think James is a rhythm player and if he doesn't hit shots early, he can go into a funk unless the team puts him in positions to score.  It happened at the end of the 3rd quarter, which is why the Heat had a nice lead to start the 4th.  However, he got lost in the mix in the 4th quarter.  The Heat offense needs to be able to keep him in rhythm by getting him easy shots, and he has to be focused enough to make the shots or get to the line.  He is thinking too much about offensive fouls and finding other shooters. He needs the attitude he had against Chicago or Boston...I am going to get deeper into the paint, hit pull up 10-12 foot jumpers and go to the rim.  I think Coach Spoelstra understands what he needs to do from a coaching standpoint to get better shots for James. 

I don't think the series is about defense.  Miami is doing whatever it can to hold Dallas well below its normal shooting percentage.  This is about better run offense, and the Heat need to fight for position on the pick and rolls and get better looks inside the 3 point line and create space for the 10-12 foot jumper, the drive and the corner 3 point shot. 

The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or