NBA Finals 2011: What Went Wrong for the Dallas Mavericks in Game 1?
First and foremost, Dallas only trailed by four points heading into the fourth quarter, and remained close until the last few minutes, despite the fact that Dirk Nowitzki had a fairly average game by his standards and no other player for the Mavericks scored in double figures aside from Shawn Marion (16) and Jason Terry (12).
Additionally, they shot the ball well from three early on in the game, and their zone defense also looked impressive. However, the zone defense led to some other difficulties we will discuss in a moment.
Still, Dallas lost the game 92-84, so the only thing those positives will provide for the Mavericks is some confidence heading into Game 2.
But before we look ahead, let's take a moment to look back at Game 1 in a little more detail.
What exactly went wrong for the Mavericks?
While Dallas wasn't necessarily killed on the boards, they allowed Miami to collect 16 offensive rebounds that led to the Heat scoring a number of back-breaking second chance points.
Chris Bosh crashed the offensive glass all night long, racking up five offensive rebounds on his way to scoring 19 points.
In Tyson Chandler, Brendan Haywood and Nowitzki, the Mavericks have three seven-footers that play significant minutes, meaning it's inexcusable to allow any team to man-handle them on the boards.
Chandler, who only had four rebounds, needs to be better in Game 2, while Nowitzki also needs to make more of an effort of helping out in the paint.
The Heat's offensive rebounds made the biggest difference in Game 1.
Early on in the game, the Mavericks offense looked crisp and the ball movement was there. Dallas was able to get a number of open looks, although they had a tough time converting those open looks consistently.
However, late in the game, Dallas looked uncharacteristically out of sorts. They rushed a number of shots, and failed to execute the way they have throughout the playoffs. The team also failed to get Nowitzki more involved down the stretch, instead settling for a number of three-pointers.
The Mavericks are not a team that can beat opponents, especially the Heat, playing one-on-one. They thrive on ball movement, ball rotation and making the defense move around. In Game 2, it's imperative that they do just that for the full 48 minutes.
Coming into this series, one of the advantages many people thought Dallas had was the play of their bench. Terry, J.J. Barea and Peja Stojakovic had all been playing well as of late, while Miami's bench, for the most part, had been struggling.
However, the Mavericks bench struggled in Game 1. They were outscored 27-17 by the Heat's bench, and Barea and Stojakovic combined to score just two points on 1-11 shooting.
Barea had a number of open looks, but just couldn't get anything to fall. Additionally, Stojakovic was never allowed to get into much of a rhythm.
If Dallas wants to earn a split in Miami, the bench must be significantly better.
Miami Was Hitting Their Outside Shots
The only problem was that both James and Wade were able to make the Mavericks pay from the outside.
The dynamic duo combined to shoot 6-9 from beyond the arc, while also hitting a number of other shots from just inside the line.
James only went to the free throw line twice, while Wade visited the stripe five times. That tells you just how hard it was for them to get to the rim.
The Mavericks' best chance to win this series is to continue to force James and Wade to live on the perimeter. If they continue to make shots, there isn't much else Dallas can do.
Except maybe tip their cap.
Jason Terry Disappeared in the Second Half
It appears that someone may need to remind Terry that each game is 48 minutes long, and not 24 minutes.
The "Jet" started off the game hot, but disappeared in the second half. He didn't even attempt a shot in the third quarter, and failed to score in the fourth quarter. In fact, none of the shots he took down the stretch even came close.
His decision making was rather poor and his defense was also suspect.
With just one rebound and one assist, he struggled to make any impact on the game. He entered the game averaging over 17 points per game during the postseason, and Dallas needs him to pick it up in a big way and help Nowitzki carry the scoring load.
Terry is a veteran who has Finals experience and will undoubtedly be better in Game 2, but his team can't afford a disappearing act for a second straight game.