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NBA Finals 2011: 5 Adjustments Miami Heat Must Make for Game 3 Against Mavs

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NBA Finals 2011: 5 Adjustments Miami Heat Must Make for Game 3 Against Mavs
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

There wasn”t a person alive last night who thought the Dallas Mavericks had a chance to overcome a 15-point Miami Heat lead with seven minutes to go.

Shut up Barkley. Not one.

Dwyane Wade’s corner three with an extra long Barbie-esque pose with 7:13 remaining was supposed to be the exclamation on Game 2 of the NBA Finals. Apparently Dirk Nowitzki didn’t get the memo as he brushed all concerns over his torn finger aside and led his team to a wild comeback thrashing in the Heat’s house.

Now the question is how will Miami regroup, brushes themselves off and moves on from here?

Here are five fixes for Game 3.

1. Stick to strengths

Wade exploded for nine points in opening five minutes of  the final period. Just three of those points came from the perimeter, while the rest came from a dunk and four free throws. He was getting it done in true D-Wade style, relentlessly attacking the rim.

However, then he and LeBron James went off script.

Miami attempted five threes in the final seven minutes, not counting a last second heave from Wade that nearly sent half the city of Miami into cardiac arrest. The problem was Wade and James were both hot from the perimeter early on—their confidence was never higher—and they thought it’d carry over for the game’s duration.

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They forgot about who they were and what they do best—attack.

There should never be a game where Wade and James each attempt seven threes. No matter how hot they get, it shouldn’t dominate their shot selection, as it did last night.

2. Battle the glass

While the Heat won the rebounding battle in Game 1, they failed miserably in Game 2, as Dallas out-rebounded them 41-30. Joel Anthony and Udonis Haslem can’t afford to combine for four rebounds, not when they’re logging a combined 46 minutes.

Tyson Chandler, Dirk Nowitzki, Shawn Marion and Jason Kidd combined for more rebounds (34) than Miami’s entire team.

Miami wasn’t close to as physical as they needed to be and nobody had an answer for Chandler’s bruising, sometimes nasty, play inside.

3. Get quality shots

I understand this offense is based more off of dribble penetration than anything else, but if there is no lateral ball movement, it makes it too simple to defend. If there is no player movement, it becomes as simple as pack the paint. The offense mostly “attacked” from the top on pick-and-rolls and isolations over the game’s final stretch.

They have to create better shot selection.

Miami can help themselves by initiating the offense more from the high and low posts, creating more movement off the ball, and creating more movement of the ball. Let LeBron, Wade and Bosh catch from within 15 feet instead of exclusively on the perimeter. I guarantee their quality of shots will improve drastically.

The Heat’s two superstars have a tendency to take too many “hero shots” when basketball is still a game of percentages. They also both have a tendency to stand around and watch the other. This team reverted back to its mid-season form of bad habits for a good 10 minutes last night.

4. Better defensive schemes

While Bosh did a solid job on Dirk for most of the game, coach Erik Spoelstra’s decision to stick with that matchup in the final moments was an iffy call. It’s not because Bosh is a bad defender, but more so because Haslem and James are superior on-ball defenders.

Bosh’s biggest strength defensively is away from the ball in rotations, help situations and on pick-and-rolls. LeBron is the best perimeter ball defender in the game and I wish he had a shot at Dirk with the game on the line.

5. It’s not over till it’s over

Why do teams change their style of play once they build big leads? I’ve read that book so many times it makes me sick.

A team builds a strong lead one way, then lets up by going with the “prevent offense” as I like to call it. It’s time they learn to fight to the finish with everything they have and not deviate from what was working.

Sure it was one game, and I wouldn’t bet my life on Dallas beating Miami four times in a best of seven series, but they can’t rely on talent alone this late in the playoffs. Well maybe they can, but it won’t be pretty.

Teams win championships, and Dallas was more of a team than Miami when it mattered Thursday night. The great thing about a seven game series is after Game 2, there’s always a Game 3.

***Follow me on Twitter @MiaSportsGuy

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