Sometimes in the NBA, an eight or ten point victory can seem like a blowout – especially when the game score averages out to 88 points. But don’t let the score fool you, nor yet another late game surge by LeBron James and Dwayne Wade. The Dallas Mavericks were just a few missed open shots away from a much closer game, or even a win.
It’s true that the Miami Heat played defense with maximum effort. They double teamed Nowitzki, Terry, and even Kidd. They recovered beautifully most of the game. However, both Kidd and Terry missed a number of open shots early in the game, that would have made it a closer game in the late minutes of the game. However, as the game progressed, the Miami defense got better. If the Mavericks want to steal game two, they will need to be ready to bury those shots, should they present themselves again.
As expected, the Heat played tough, physical defense on Dirk Nowitzki and kept him well below his fifty percent. But it was the three for ten that they coaxed out of Terry, and the one of eight that they forced Barea into that won the game for the Heat. It was Barea and Terry that killed the other teams in the Western Conference bracket. Their efficient scoring piled on top of Dirk’s amazing scoring performance proved too much. However, they were effectively shut down by the Heat.
The Mavericks for their part played great defense as well – better than I thought they could. They kept the Heat to 38% shooting – only slightly better than Dallas’s 37%. Their zone defense did keep the shooting percentages low, but it also gave Miami 10 more offensive rebounds than Dallas had. The big kicker though turned out to be three point shooting. Dallas had run into teams who were unable to hit threes on their way to the Finals. Western Conference teams shot on 26% from three against Dallas. The Heat hit 45% last night – better than Dallas’s 41%.
It was a tight, exciting game last night. The Mavericks did well to keep things close. However, they will need to hit their open shots (in Miami, not just at home) in order to win the series, and they will need to find a way to play defense effectively, without allowing so many offensive rebounds or open three point shots.