Saturday, May 27, 2006

Western Conference Finals Recap (Game 2)

SUNS/MAVS (Game 2): Mavs 105- Suns 98

- The Mavs came out early trying to get Dirk established down low, and it was pretty successful in the 1st quarter. But I think the Mavs went away from attacking the interior, and started to go into jumper-mode in the 2nd quarter, and thusly the Suns made a run & took the lead. All in all, Dirk had another good game with 30 pts., 14 rebs., & 6 assts. But I still thought he could have done more damage in the post--too many times when he gets on the block, he doesn't go right at the rim and ends up trying fadeaways like he does at the high post. Another example was when Dirk got an off. board after the Mavs had to force up a shot with I sec. on the shot clock--he had a clear point-blank shot but he decided to kick-out for a perimeter shot. The shot went in, but Dirk has to be more forceful when he gets down low, especially vs. the Suns. Look what he did with a 1:30 left in the 4th when the Mavs really needed a score to secure the win--he goes strong on a drive right down the baseline & finished strong at the rim. How bout that urgency & aggressiveness for the entire game. The Mavs as a whole settled for too many outside looks, even more than in Game 1--they only had 48 pts/paint. I know Terry is a great jumpshooter, but he needs to look to drive more-- he shot 6/15. Again, Stackhouse has been watching Dirk too much, because he seems to have transformed into a fadeaway shooter, shunning his slashing. This is the wrong series for Jerry to try this; he needs to start attacking like he can & living on the line, like he's known for. He had a huge drive late in the game where he got a basket & a foul, and I ended up wondering why he hasn't been doing this all the time. But this lack of attacking surely did not filter down to Josh Howard, who had 29 pts., & 7 rebs. Howard was great for the entirety of the contest from inside & out, especially proficient from the perimeter (3/5 from 3pt), something that's not his strong suit. Now you find out that the Mavs are 22-0 when Howard scores at least 20, so I assume Avery knows this and will keep milking Josh.

- The Mavs did a decent job defensively holding the Suns to 45% from the field and doing a better job of cutting down on the Suns' forays to the rim--Suns had 46 pts/paint opposed to the 70+ they got in Game 1. I thought the insertion of Diop for Van Horn (I thought it was a bad decision to start him) made a noticable difference on the defensive end. Diop did a good job in the interior discouraging Suns' drives and he also procured 11 rebs. Another big key for the Mavs, was they did a somewhat better job in transition defense by giving up 21 fast break points, although that is still a little too much, at least its better than 32 in Game 1. The Mavs got away with letting the Suns shoot 10/23 from 3pt. land. As I stated before, this is generally not a good idea cause the Suns will usually make you pay and the Suns had plenty of open looks that just did not fall. Tim Thomas had a couple open looks pop in & out, later in the series these looks could burn the Mavs. The Mavs again won the rebound battle--48-39--and grabbed 11 off. rebs to 7 for the Suns.

- Believe it or not, I felt the Suns played pretty good defense, relatively speaking. I thought they did a good job in help rotations: they were not allowing nearly as much easy looks at the rim and they seemed to be allowing the Mavs to shoot from outside, while sagging around the paint. I think this is smart for the Suns, even though the Mavs are a good perimeter shooting team. I think by enticing them to stay on the perimeter, you protect your weak interior defense. I would rather have the Mavs taking low-percentage shots than getting unencumbered lay-ins with the chance of picking up fouls as well. Although, in this game the Suns could not be pleased with the Mavs getting to the line 25 more times then them. I know the Suns do not get to the line a lot in general, but they also do not foul a lot either. Offensively, Diaw had another solid all-around game with 25 pts., 10 rebs, & 6 assts. I think I will live with Diaw getting this, since he does most of his damage inside of 20 feet.