Friday, June 09, 2006

NBA Finals Recap--Game 1

MAVS/HEAT (Game 1): Mavs 90-Heat 80

- So much for the new wave of offensive-oriented basketball of the NBA. This game was dictated by each team's defense, and both teams were pretty solid. The Mavs' defense looked shaky in the 1st quarter, but tightened the screws the next 3 quarters to keep up with the Heat defense. Jason Terry gave the Mavs a clutch offensive performance when they needed it most (he had a couple big 3pt. shots in the 4th), while the rest of the Mavs were erractic, to say the least. The Heat did not help their cause by taking bad shots and forgetting about Shaq in the middle portion of the game.

- In a game where both Dirk & Howard struggled offensively, Terry put the Mavs on his back and single-handedly saved the day. While the Heat were buliding an early lead in the 1st half, Terry was the lone Mav who could find any rhythm and kept the Mavs in the game basically by himself. He had his shot falling the whole game and he was using his screens very well--he shot a killer 13/18 for 32 points. Although, the rest of the Mavs not named Terry, shot a combined 35.2% from the floor. Dirk has a really rough night where the Heat guarded him very well. Dirk shot 4/14 from the floor, but he did hit two big 3pt. shots late in the 3rd quarter (Dirk finished with 16 pts., 10 rebs., & 4 assts.). Howard had a ragged night as well--3/14 for 10 pts & 5 TOs--and Josh was missing his outside shots badly. Stack gave the Mavs a much needed boost off the bench with 13 pts., 5 rebs., 4 assts., and mixed up his game with a couple assertive drives. Stack was a key factor in the Mavs' bench outscoring the Heat bench 24-2.

- After a poor showing in the 1st quarter where the Heat shredded the Mavs for 31 points on 70% shooting, the Mavs noticably ratcheted up the defense the rest of the game--the Heat were held to a total of 49 points the next 3 quarters on 34.5% shooting. The Heat were looking very sharp & precise in their offensive play the whole 1st quarter, and were getting into the paint with ease, especially Wade. But Avery made some adjustments at the end of the 1st, and the Mavs came out noticably better at cutting off driving lanes to the basket, and their rotations were crisper the rest of the game. Overall, they held the Heat to 43.6% shooting (5/20 from 3pt.) and held the Heat to 13 points in the 2nd quarter & 12 pts. in the 4th. They made Wade work hard for his looks after the 1st quarter, and Dampier did a solid job on fighting Shaq for post position all night--Damp added a nice surprise with 8 pts. & 7 rebs.

- Well, after the way the Heat came out offensively in the 1st quarter, you thought they were on their way to stealing Game 1. After getting super looks at the basket and easy drives to the rim in the 1st, the Heat's smooth running offense smacked into a wall in the 2nd quarter. They just started to take ill-advised shots, they had a lot shots rim in & out, they saw their easy forays to the basket dry up, and most importantly they stopped getting the ball into Shaq consistently. This is what I think ultimately doomed their fate in Game 1--they were not getting Shaq enough touches. Shaq shot 8/11. 11 shot attempts for Shaq? He needs to be getting at least 20 per game. I know he was really poor from the line (1/9), but I believe he had only one "And 1" play, so that means he was fouled on 4 shots, which leads to a total of only 15 shots attempted by Shaq. And when he was not getting shots up, he was picking apart the Mavs when they double-teamed him with 5 assts. and a few other passes that led to drawn fouls. One of the main culprits of Shaq not seeing the ball enough was...surprise, surprise--Ant Walker. This was the type of performance where you understand how Walker gets his rep. I have never really been a big Antoine-basher, I actually think he did nice things for Boston, but his play in Game 1 makes you understand Ainge's distaste for him. He did contribute 17 pts. and made some nice passes, but he just went into total chucker mode all night, taking ill-advised shots from everywhere--he shot 7/19 and added 3/9 from 3pt. land. When he starts pounding his dribble, that usually means something bad is going to happen, and it did in Game 1 with Walker coughing up 6 TOs. Walker will never be accused of letting the game come to him. The Heat did continue their custom of turning over the ball--16 TOs--but they escaped any real harm because the Mavs contributed 14 TOs of their own. Although, Wade had 28 pts., 6 rebs., 6 assts. & 4 steals, he also had 5 TOs and a couple down the stretch.

- The Heat's defense was not really the problem in this game, I thought they did a great job the whole game--the Mavs shot 44.4% overall & 6/18 from deep. I thought they were very active as a whole and did a good job in help rotations. The only guy who caused them any problems was Terry, and they need to do a better job on his screen action. But they did a super job on Dirk either with Haslem (very surprisingly) or Posey (Posey had 7 rebs.). The question is--can Haslem keep this up? I am not so positive. I like how they dared Howard to shoot from outside, and he was bricking badly; I think the Heat need to keep sagging off Josh. Another thing the Heat did well, was taking care of their defensive boards--they only let up 7 off. boards and ended with a 82.5% def. rebound percent, which is excellent. This is not really surprising since the Heat are one of the best rebounding teams in the NBA--this was the first game of the playoffs the Mavs were outrebounded (45-43).

- From now on, the Heat have to do a more concentrated effort dumping the ball into Shaq. And when those doubles come, which Avery seems to be sending a lot, the rest of the Heat need to get to the open space. I am not quite buying this stuff that Shaq can't be a force every single game anymore. Way overrated. Just look at his shooting percantage the last 2 years and in the playoffs so far this year--he always near 60%. He's just not attempting as many shots as he use to. That has partly to do with Wade's presence--Shaq understands he does not need to exert himself all the time. But when the Heat need him, like in Game 1, he can still respond with monster numbers. The Heat just have to get him the touches. For the Mavs, Dirk has to find a way to shake loose of Haslem and some of the doubles they send his way. I feel pretty confident he will find his rhythm the next couple games.


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