Tag:Shawn Marion
Posted on: June 2, 2011 2:37 am
Edited on: June 2, 2011 10:32 am
 

NBA Finals: Heat defense takes control in and out



Posted by Matt Moore

MIAMI -- In the NBA, the best defenses live by a few principles. You've got to control the paint, nothing easy. You've got to close out on shooters as best you can. You've got to take advantage of opportunities to attack the ball while playing consistent position. And you've got to be willing to live with something. Some type of shot has to be what you're willing to surrender. The Celtics and Spurs, the two great defenses of the last decade, along with the newest model in Chicago, are built on this concept. Eventually you have to be willing to surrender some type of shot. Most often it's the mid-range jumper from one of the bigs, or the corner three as the last rotation. Sometimes it's the guard driving off the pick and roll free as the double hedges on a star screener with range (read: Dirk, as both the Thunder and Lakers let the ball-handler roam free off the pick and roll to guard Dirk). You can't guard everything, all the time. 

Can you?

The Miami Heat in the playoffs are proving that's not exactly true. They can defend everything. They are defending everything. They have the right combination of scheme and athleticism to cover every angle and contest everything. It's just a matter of being able to know where you should be, and get there faster. The rest is just trust. But we'll get there. 

This isn't to say the Heat's defense is the best we've ever seen. It's not. they have the best defensive rating of any Finals team since LeBron's Cavaliers in 2007, better than the vaunted Celtics teams of recent years, but while it is very good, it is not quite of that caliber yet. But you can't argue with the results, especially after their work in Game 1 against the Mavs. The Mavs feature such a balanced attack, Miami knew going in they were going to have a significant challenge from the Mavs' shooters.  

A Daunting Task

"They're one of the most impressive offenses I've seen," Mike Miller said Wednesday, "with the way they move the ball and the shooters they have."

Chris Bosh said the Heat knew going in to expect an assault, and the Heat were prepared for it, whether it was from the Big German or the Little Barea:

"We know that they have great finishers. Dirks' going to be in there, J.J.'s definitely going to be in there."

The Heat aren't lacking in swagger but they're also full up on respect for the Mavericks. In Game 1, they held the Mavericks to 44 percent effective field goal percentage (which factors 3-point shooting). By comparison, the Mavericks are shooting a playoffs-best 52 percent eFG% this postseason. The Heat were able to cripple the Mavericks by working in an unorthodox way. Outside-in. 

String Theory

About a month ago, the Heat Index ran a story talking about a primary defensive element the Heat had spoken of all season. The story outlined what coach Erik Spoelstra described as "playing on a string."
 
So what does "being on a string" mean exactly?

"It’s all guys moving together," Wade explained. "Our principles are protecting the paint. If the ball skips over the top, and I have to close out on the 3-point shooter, then that opens up the drive because I have to close and chase him off the 3-point line. So ‘being on a string’ as in, the bottom man -- the next man -- has to come over to be in his position. It’s not about one person. It’s about all five doing their jobs. If the bottom man comes over, that means he’s leaving his man. So now the opposite man has to sink down on that man."
via The Miami Heat on a string - Heat Index Blog - ESPN.

This is nothing groundbreaking, it's an extrapolation of the help defense we've seen before. What's absolutely stunning is how fast the Heat are able to do it. The Heat don't just react to the ball movement, closing out on where the ball goes to try and run off a 3-pointer. They anticipate, rushing to cover the expected pass before it's made. That means instead of burning themselves to recover, leaving them succeptible to a pump-fake and drive or wearing themselves out and exposing offensive rebound opportunities for the Mavericks, they're simply able to cover ground and be everywhere they need on the perimeter. This isn't possible with another personnel set. You need the athleticism of LeBron James and Dwyane Wade to pull it off.

 

Haslem hedges hard to cut off Barea's drive off the pick and roll. Mike Miller swings to recover on Dirk Nowitzki, leaving his man Jason Terry open. This should leave the wing "swing" player, Jason Terry, open. Instead, not only has James recovered from the low post to run Terry off, he's anticipated the pass and is already there. Terry instinctively swings the pass to the corner man Stojakovic. Peja should have a clear shot, but Bosh with all that length runs off the corner 3-pointer. Stojakovic does the right thing, pump fakes and drives, but Miller has now come over to cover for him. The result is a desperate pass to Terry who has to fling up an off-balance contested 3-pointer at the buzzer. Turnover. 

It's a ton of work, but as Miller described it Wednesay, "It's what you've got to do." 

Playing "on a string" is one of those terms that the Heat players' ears perk up immediately at. It connects with them at a very specific level, and you can tell they believe in the concepts. Udonis Haslem received the most praise for his work on Dirk Nowitzki but the morning after the Heat held Dirk Nowitzki to just 7-18 shooting, Haslem brought up the string himself, unprompted. 

"Five guys on a string. That's how it's done. It's not me shutting Dirk down. I'm able to rely on five guys working together." 

When asked what made that strategy work so well for the Heat, Haslem was short and to the point. "Trust," he said.

That's how the Heat kept the Mavericks' perimeter attack under wraps, even if their percentage was decent. But to do so the Heat have to first stop the easy stuff. And that's where they really excelled in Game 1. 

Point of Attack

Shooting at the rim's supposed to be easy. I mean, it is at the rim. But in Game 1, the Heat held the Mavericks to just 44.5 percent at the rim. That's about as strong as your defense will get.  It's that kind of identity that Chris Bosh says defines the Heat at this point.

"Just being us," Bosh said. "We know that they have great finishers. Dirks' going to be in there, J.J.'s definitely going to be in there. We want to use our athleticism and try and challenge guys at the rim."

So is it a matter of attacking the shot or maintaining position? I know this is going to shock you, but Joel Anthony says it's both. 

"You've got to do both. You have to get there," Anthony said with a sense of dedication to his craft," get in front of them, and when they shoot you have to challenge."

For Udonis Haslem, who doesn't have the raw size of most defensive bigs, it's more of a mental approach. "Make everything tough. Don't let anything be easy. We did a pretty decent job of keeping them out of the paint. We have to focus on that because when they do get in the paint they can kick it out to their great shooters and those guys can knock it down with the best of them." 

There's that respect again. It's important for the Heat. The more they're concerned with the Mavericks' ability to get loose, the better job they'll do in keeping the intensity of Game 1 defensively. Which is what they'll need to win another three and bring the trophy home.

Identity Complex

 The Heat won't stop talking defense. Even for an NBA team which guarantees an abundance of references toward that side of the ball, the Heat elected to make that their identity, and they've stuck with it. After all, it's gotten them to the Finals. Instead of creating some brilliant offensive scheme inside a year, they have a stellar defensive scheme, and let the offense out-talent the opponent. The Mavericks, after facing brie-like defense in the West, have discovered another level. It's up to the Mavericks to find an identity of their own to counter it.
Posted on: June 1, 2011 11:36 pm
 

Playoff Fix: Getting back to good for the Mavs

Posted by Royce Young



One Big Thing: Surely, surely, Dallas won't shoot that way again. Not once this postseason have the Mavs missed open looks like they did in Game 1 of the NBA Finals. Did Miami's defense have something to do with it? Of course. The way the Heat closed out on shooters was pretty much unreal. But the clean shots Dallas had -- just hard to see them coming up empty like that again.

One thing that absolutely can't happen again in Game 2 if Dallas wants a prayer: Miami's bench can't outscore the Mavs' second unit. Period. Not by 10 points, not by five points, heck not by even a single point. That's somewhere Dallas has to win.

The X-Factor: Dirk's finger. I realize he's pretty much entirely fine. He knocked a finger on his off-hand out of place. It probably won't affect him. But Dirk has to be at his best during this game. There can't be anything like he can't go left or finish well. There can't be anything about him having issues catching a pass. There really isn't any room for error for him. The finger is a minor thing because it likely won't affect anything, but it's a legit injury. And something to keep an eye on.

The Adjustment: Miami pulled out some tricks in Game 1 sticking LeBron on Jason Terry and doubling Dirk on any baseline catch. How does Dallas counter? Rick Carlisle was a bit coy in his Wednesday presser, but obviously the Mavs have been busting their brains on how to free up Terry if LeBron covers him again. J.J. Barea actually had his way in Game 1 doing his thing, but he missed his shots. Terry did the same in the second half in some parts.

The Mavs need clean looks and space to execute their offense well. Miami didn't give them too many of those holes in Game 1. If LeBron covers Terry again, Carlisle might have to get creative with his rotation and find a matchup that forces Erik Spoelstra to re-think things. Because the Mavs need Terry's offense.

The Sticking Point: Here's what I took from Game 1 though: Miami pretty much did their thing. LeBron was very good. Chris Bosh played well. Dwyane Wade was decent but had a good final 10 minutes. And Miami's bench gave them 27 big points. The defense was good, they rebounded like crazy and hit a bunch of tough 3s. But Dallas, it never felt like they played all that well.

What does that say? You can either lean toward that being good news for the Mavs, or point at that being bad news because the Heat are unlike any team they've seen. Miami won because of the offensive glass and because Dallas missed shots. Will that hold up again?
Posted on: June 1, 2011 5:58 pm
Edited on: June 1, 2011 6:20 pm
 

NBA Finals: Off-day notebook

Posted by Royce Young

MIAMI -- Some notes from the Mavs and Heat's off-day before Game 2 Thursday night:

Everyone, let's all freak out about a finger. Almost every question lobbed at Dirk on Wednesday somehow included something about his left middle finger.

Dirk tore a tendon in it in Game 1 of The Finals, but with it being on his off-hand, he repeatedly said, "I'm fine."

Still though... is he?

"I don't think it's going to be necessarily bothering me on the shot," Dirk said. "It's going to be the other stuff -- dribbling, passing, catching, swiping down, stuff like that. I think it will be OK."

Dirk said he was going to "experiment" with it a bit during practice Wednesday, trying out different splits, tapes and other things. He'll almost assuredly be fine because as Dirk said, he's played through injuries before in his 13 years. But he does like to go left, he does like to finish with the left hand. So there's a decent reason to wonder.

Jason Terry though, isn't.

"No, it didn't affect him," he said. "I seen when it happened. He swiped down. It was his left hand. He don't use that anyway."

Surprise! LeBron's guarding you. One wrinkle the Heat busted out in Game 1 was using LeBron James on Terry for most of the second half. Terry scored 12 points in the first half, but went scoreless in the second. The move by Miami to use LeBron on Terry wasn't something that Terry doesn't ever remember seeing.

"It was a big adjustment, something we weren't prepared for," he said. "We seen it, we made our adjustment and we'll be prepared for Game 2."

What that adjustment is, we'll have to see. Maybe Dallas tries to go bigger to force LeBron off Terry onto a bigger player. Maybe Terry will decoy himself. Or maybe it's a secret.

"We're just going to be a lot more active," Terry said. "Looking for opportunities in transition. And other than that, stand in the corner and let him guard me. I don't want to give all my secrets away."

Said Rick Carlisle: "They're paying [Terry] a very high compliment by putting their best defensive player on him. And I think that's something that tells you how important they feel Jet is to us."

The Mavs chalked it all up to just poor shooting after the game. Carlisle's right though -- Terry is very important. He was the top spark on the NBA's best scoring bench during the regular season but in Game 1, only put up 17 points.

"We've looked at it, we'll do some things that we think can help us," Carlisle said.

At least he's not using war analogies. Carlisle put it simply: "They won the line of scrimmage is really what it came down to. They were more physical inside."

What he's referring to is the fact Miami pulled in 16 offensive rebounds and used that to attempt 13 more shots. The Heat only shot 38.8 percent to Dallas's 37.3, but they had six more makes from the field. That's the difference.

"When I talk about them winning the line of scrimmage, that's really what it's about," Carlisle said. "The analogy of football is accurate in that the line of scrimmage, the guys that hit first and hit most aggressively with the most force are going to have the most success. And they did it better than we did last night."

So if I understand this right coach, you want Shawn Marion to tackle Mike Bibby in Game 2? Or did I misunderstand?

Fan up, lay off. Heat fans have taken quite a bit of guff over the season for showing up late, not selling out and not being as involved as people seem to think they should be. Reality is, the Heat filled home games at a 100.9 percent capacity and were fifth overall in the league in total attendance.

So Wade tried to stick up for his white-wearing mob.

"Obviously our fans have been great," he said. "Our fans are like our bench; they get a lot of flack about what they're not and what they don't do. But they're pretty good."
Posted on: June 1, 2011 2:10 am
Edited on: June 1, 2011 3:17 am
 

NBA Finals Heat vs. Mavs: What do you do?

Posted by Matt Moore



MIAMI -- Really, when you look at it, what are you going to do?

The Miami Heat busted open the Mavericks' zone. The Mavs' bench was a no-show. The Heat got production from their role players. Chris Bosh played well. And yet the Mavericks were right there, down four going into the final frame. And it really wasn't their defense that let them down. Miami's offense was just too good.

Dywane Wade after the game talked about momentum and how he "knew what (LeBron) was going to do" on a crucial pull-up 3-pointer to end the third. LeBron James talked about rhythm, and how when he saw Wade dribbling for a pull-up 3-pointer and that fell he knew Wade was "feeling good." It's all feel and instinct and trust in these two. It's faith. Faith in one another to make exceptional play after exceptional play down the stretch. You know, the kinds of plays Miami had failed to make time and time again this season, until the postseason. But James says they always knew the day was coming when they would do... this. 

"We have guys that have closed out games before. We just had to figure out how to do it together."

Guess what? They figured it out. And now there is nothing more terrifying late in the game than James or Wade screaming down the floor with the ball while the other sprints to the perimeter. James' 3-pointer has always been the Achilles' heel. He went to it time and time again, far too often. But instead of it being a hindrance, it has become a boon, as the Heat continuously bomb from long range. As a comparison, the Heat's effective field goal percentage (factoring the impact of 3-pointers) was 45.6 percent, a terrible mark that reflects a rough shooting night all around. In the fourth quarter, they were over 52 percent. That's how you attack a Dallas defense sending multiple defenders. That's how you let your star players make star plays.

That's how you close out Game 1.

There will be talk of rebounding, and defense, and tactics, and bench play. But this game came down to Dwyane Wade and LeBron James being the best two players on the floor, two of the best in the NBA, and doing things only they can. Pull-up, fadeaway, ice-cold dagger 3-pointers with the clock winding down and a defender right in their face? How do you stop that if they're hitting? The answer is you don't. The Mavericks found that out the hard way in Game 1. Now the pressure's on them to find a more consistent solution in Game 2 beyond some of the suggestions heard at the AA Arena Tuesday night: prayer, the kitchen sink, and turning the lights off before the Heat shoot them out in the fourth.
Posted on: June 1, 2011 1:46 am
Edited on: June 1, 2011 5:58 am
 

On the scene at the Finals: A good night in Miami



Posted by Royce Young

MIAMI -- The Heat opened the 2011 NBA Finals with a solid 92-84 win over the Mavericks. LeBron James was terrific, Dwyane Wade hit some big shots and the Heat's defense pretty much suffocated the Mavericks for 48 minutes. A lot of other stuff happened, so here are some notes on the sights and sounds of Game 1.
  • The word before the game was that it wasn't sold out up until about 30 minutes before the tip. That just fuels the "Heat fans are bad!" story, but they were loud and into the game from the tip. I guess that's to be expected since, you know, this is the NBA Finals and all, though. Still, I don't think the rap they get is entirely fair. They stood, they cheered and they were loud in spurts. Not the greatest crowd ever, but in terms of atmosphere, it was good.
  • David Stern held his annual pregame press conference right before tip off of Game 1. And it was nearly interrupted by a screaming man on a microphone on the court and then cheerleaders running by the room yelling. Stern, as you might expect, pressed through, unfazed. I bet he didn't even hear the outside noise.
  • Stern, pregame talking about looming CBA negotiations: "I told the players and owners to bring their negotiating talents to South Beach." Har har, Commish.
  • The Heat are part of the bandwagon of having seemingly unlikely people dance to music on the court. Their catch? The elderly. The Heat deployed a group of older men and women to shake their things on the court during a timeout. This is a fad that's popular in a lot of cities, but a fad that I wouldn't mind being written out of the NBA in the new CBA.
  • Kind of intriguing that DeShawn Stevenson started the game on LeBron instead of Shawn Marion. With their past history, maybe it was Rick Carlisle trying to play some mind games? 
  • Did you know: The winner of Game 1 has won the Finals 73.4 percent of the time, including 10 of the past 12 seasons. One of those seasons that wasn't true of course was in 2006 were the Mavs took the first TWO from Miami.
  • J.J. Barea defended LeBron one-on-one in the first quarter. Result? LeBron, miss. I think we found our stopper, people.
  • It's Game 1 of the NBA Finals. Crazy atmosphere, lots of excitement, tons of media in town observing everything that happens in your arena. So surely a nifty halftime show is in order, right? Nope. The Heat pretty much had a promotional video for some Gloria Estafan music video that's coming out soon as the halftime entertainment. Red Panda, it was not. 
  • Juwan Howard played a grand total of seven minutes and 37 seconds and didn't really impact the game much at all. But when he went to the line late in the third quarter, a section of Heat fans chanted "M-V-P! M-V-P!" as he shot. Is this some kind of inside joke I'm missing?
  • Chris Bosh screwed us out of an awesome LeBron alley-oop in the third quarter. That's just so Chris Bosh.
  • The Heat have won 10 straight home playoff games. Impressive.
  • Jimmy Buffet was shown on the big screen and got a huge cheer. That was sort of random to me. Also courtside, but not shown: Serena Williams.
  • Michael McDonald formerly of The Doobie Brothers sang the National Anthem and let me tell you, it was rousing.
  • Miami's public address guy isn't my favorite. He basically just made noises for two hours.
  • The visiting locker room in Miami is pretty much the smallest thing ever. It's definitely not suited for hundreds of media members trying to talk to giant men.
Game 2 is Thursday night in Miami.


Notes from Matt Moore

Heat have big room to dress, where no one dresses

The Heat locker room was a ghost town before the game. It is the nicest locker room I've been in, with a giant championship rug that says "Champions" on it (most of the place is a shrine to the 2006 team), in a big oval shape. It kind of reminds you of the grav-a-tron ride from the carnival, except with more Juwan Howard.

Anyway, pregame, almost no one from the Heat was available. Players entered just long enough to get dressed to the bare minimum, then bolted for the trainer's room. I'd love to tell you the attitude or sense of the locker room, but no one was in there except beat writers laughing at the Heat waiting everyone out and confused Chinese media.  

Casually torn

Dirk Nowitzki just casually dropped the fact that he's got a torn tendon in his finger and went on answering questions, dismissing it completely. LeBron James noted it's not his shooting hand, so he'll be fine, "he'll be Dirk." It's crazy how accepting both teams were of the injury. If you tore a tendon in your left hand, you'd probably miss a day or two, right?

You could tell Miami players genuinely were not comforted by the injury to Dirk. They know he can score one-handed, or no-handed. 

The King doesn't need help

A reporter asked postgame if Wade or Haslem talked to James about playing in a game of this magnitude, despite James having been in the Finals in 2007. James replied they had not, that it had been "left unsaid." Mostly because I'm pretty sure James would have killed anyone who tried to tell him such things with his bare hands. 

James also sheepishly joked that Wade had come up to him postgame and congratulated him on his first Finals win. You can tell James was embarrassed by the gap between the two captains, and he was glad to have regained that measure of respect. James really has won one of the biggest games of his life. Now he just needs to win three more.

Don't overreact

Remember Chicago destorying Miami in the fourth quarter of Game 1? Remember that before you start jumping on or off bandwagons. This series is going to be close, it's going to be nasty, it's going to be intense, and it's going to come down to a number of plays. The key will be adjustments. Rick Carlisle spoke a lot before Game 1 about playing "their game." The Mavs will say they did not, with the rebounding disadvantage. But in a lot of ways the Mavericks got what they wanted. They just couldn't convert. that's a bad sign for Dallas. Adjustments need to be made.  

I do not feel the rhythm of the night.

Gloria Estefan had a video play about the making of her music video at halftime, followed by the music video. That's right. The entirety of halftime was Gloria Estefan. That's twenty minutes of my life I'm never getting back.

Posted on: June 1, 2011 1:40 am
Edited on: June 1, 2011 5:47 am
 

NBA Finals Heat vs. Mavericks: Zone = Busted

Heat bench shows up to bust the zone and allow the Heat's superstars to play like only they can. 

Posted by Matt Moore



MIAMI -- How do you bust a zone? You can knock down perimeter shots, or you can attack over it. The Heat did a little bit of both in Game 1. Mario Chalmers poured in 10 huge points off the bench. Eight of those points came against the Dallas zone. Chalmers drove early in the second to draw a shooting foul, then nailed two huge 3-pointers. That kind of attack is what turns a zone defense inside out and renders it torn in half. After the game, Chalmers made it clear the Heat knew they were going to face that zone going in.
 
"They're going to play a lot of zone, that's who they are. When we're hitting shots like that, we're hard team to stop. And tonight we were able to do that. " 

Mike Miller threw in one of his two 3-pointers against the zone, and it was effectively busted. The Mavericks would only play it twice more in the second half, where the Heat were able to turn the game based on the incredible raw athletic talent of LeBron James and Dwyane Wade

But it wasn't just the perimeter attack that brought the Mavs' zone down. Chris Bosh was a willing passer from the high post and LeBronmario-chalmers-finals James was his usual self ... an all-around threat. The result was a series of attacks over the zone's defense right under the basket, including what may have been the dagger, a Udonis Haslem and-one finish. The lead had been cut to three with six minutes to go before Haslem's bucket, one of those two zone attempts the Mavericks threw out. The Mavs gambled with the zone. The gamble failed. 

The zone wasn't completely useless, but the Heat scored 20 points on 18 possessions against the zone. But more importantly, it allowed the Heat to have the Mavs in man defense down the stretch, and to let their superstars play. Chalmers said he had no doubt the two superstars were going to score. 

"I'm not surprised by what they do. They're superstars. When a superstar gets going, they're hard to stop."

After the game, Chalmers spoke of the momentum of the perimeter shots he hit, while James talked about the rhythm. The Mavs wound up asking the same thing the Bulls and Celtics asked before them when faced with the onslaught of James and Wade down the stretch. If the team is going to bust the zone and get back to their strength, how do you defend that? 

"What are you going to do?"

Posted on: June 1, 2011 1:16 am
Edited on: June 1, 2011 3:16 am
 

NBA Finals: Mavs bench didn't show up for Game 1

Posted by Royce Young



MIAMI -- What was an incredible strength for the Mavericks through their first 15 playoff games became an ugly weakness in Game 1 of the NBA Finals. Pretty bad time for it, I'd say.

The Dallas bench, led by Jason Terry and J.J. Barea, pretty much didn't show up. Not in a they-came-out-flat-and-played-meh type of thing. More like a they-really-never-entered-the-arena
type of thing.

For the game, the Mavs' bench scored a total of 17 points on 4-22 shooting. Terry went 3-10 for 12 points. Barea went 1-8 for two points. Peja Stojakovic, who had been a pretty key part in spots for the Mavs, missed all three of his attemps, with all three being of the wide open 3-point variety. You know, pretty much entirely what he's on the floor to hit.

"We'll play better. I'm very certain of that," said Mavs coach Rick Carlisle. "Again, we had some opportunities that, shots we normally make, they didn't go down. So that was tough."

You could attribute a lot of the Mavs' struggles to simply missing shots. Stojakovic is almost always good to hit at least one of three when he's open from downtown. Terry had a number of solid looks. And Barea, who terrorized the Blazers, Lakers and Thunder, missed a number of runners and jumpers in the paint, even blowing two seemingly easy layups.

Good reason for Carlisle to be confident still.

Especially because, prior to Game 1, the Dallas bench was averaging 39.4 points per game this postseason. Against the Lakers, the second unit scored 86 points. They haven't scored fewer than 20 in any game this postseason (before Tuesday) and only under 25 once -- which was the first game of the playoffs. So yeah, the Mavs bench has been really good and a major part of the reason they're even here.

They just didn't show for the biggest game yet. Bummer.

"We struggled off the bench today," Barea said. "But we had our looks. We had our looks and we didn't knock them down. Thursday I think that's going to change."

Said Dirk: "I actually thought coming in that our bench was going to be a key for us. They did a good job there on Jet.

"J.J.'s got to take his time when he gets [in the paint]. Obviously they are collapsing and trying to block his shot. I thought he was rushing some of his shots in the paint. And we just got to relax and if it's not there, swing the ball to the weak side, because the shot is going to be there."

Miami's bench -- which has been far from as prolific as the Mavs -- scored 27 points to Dallas's 17. Consider this: During the 98 games the Heat have played this year, their bench has only outscored the opponent's eight times. Make it nine now, I guess. Not good if you're in the Maverick locker room. Terry, who is averaging 15.0 points a game (but on just 36 percent shooting) in the playoffs never was able to get going. He hit all three of his 3s in the first half and scored all 12 of his points in the first 24 minutes. LeBron switched over and guarded Terry a bit in the second half, but echoing his teammates, Terry chalked it up to just missing.

"We just didn't take advantage of opportunities," he said. "You have to finish at the basket. You have to make your wide open shots, and we didn't get that accomplished tonight."

What did it come down to? Was it really as simple as just missing shots? At the rim, Dallas went 1-6. In the paint, 0-2. Midrange, 0-4. And from 3, 3-10. A lot were indeed open, but the Heat defense was as locked in as ever. Every open shot has someone running hard at the shooter. Every path the rim was met with a Miami big rotating over.

It was an unusual night for the solid Maverick second unit and, with Dallas scoring just 84 points, you can really point right there as a big reason for the struggles. Get the normal output and Dallas puts up 106.

But I'm with Carlisle -- the bench will be better. And here's the thing too: It has to be.
Posted on: June 1, 2011 1:00 am
Edited on: June 1, 2011 1:36 am
 

Dwyane Wade alley-oop to LeBron James video

Dwyane Wade threw an alley oop to LeBron James to clinch a Game 1 win for the Miami Heat over the Dallas Mavericks in the NBA Finals. Posted by Ben Golliver.

When Chicago Bulls center Joakim Noah called the Miami Heat "Hollywood as hell" this is what he meant.

The Heat led the Dallas Mavericks 89-79 with less than a minute to go in Game 1 of the NBA Finals and had possession of the ball. Most teams would simply wind the clock all the way down and put up a contested jumper before the buzzer, playing conservatively and using the clock with a double digit lead. Not the Heat.

With the shot clock near 10 seconds, Heat guard Dwyane Wade used a high screen and roll to his right hand. As the Mavericks defense shaded to the strong side to spy him, Heat forward LeBron James snuck in front the weakside corner by cutting hard on the baseline. As Mavericks center Tyson Chandler rotated to Wade and Mavericks guard Jason Terry got caught up marking Heat forward Chris Bosh in the paint, Wade lofted a picture-perfect alley-oop to James, who caught it and flushed it with two hands.

The play symbolized the Heat's biggest match-up advantage -- athleticism on the perimeter -- and it also showcased how far they've come from a late-game execution standpoint. The high-flying connection helped push Miami to a 92-84 victory on Tuesday night.

Here's a look at video of Dwyane Wade's alley-oop to LeBron James in the fourth quarter.


 
 
 
 
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