NBA Finals 2011: 5 Possible Ways the Dallas Mavericks Can Tie the Series
After taking a 2-1 lead in the series, Miami will look to take a commanding lead on the Mavericks in Game 4.
As we all know, the Mavericks will not go down easily. With a few simple adjustments, Dallas could put themselves in position to tie the series at two games a piece.
Watch the NBA Finals Game Four Tuesday at 9:00PM/EST on ABC.
Lone Star State; Lone Star Team
Dirk Nowitzki got a lot of help from his fellow teammates during the Mavericks' unprecedented run to the NBA Finals. But that's just about it. Offensively, he got help to the NBA Finals, certainly not during them.
Ever since Game 1 of this year's Championship round, Dirk Nowitzki has been a one-man wrecking crew on the offensive side of the ball.
At the end of the Mavericks' furious Game 2 comeback to steal a game on the road in Miami, Dirk scored the last nine points for the Mavs.
At the end of another Mavericks comeback in Game 3, this one falling short, Dirk scored the last 12 points for the Mavs.
Dirk has hit his first 24 FT's to start the NBA Finals, one away from tying Reggie Miller's record for consecutive FT's to start a Finals series.
Dirk has literally done it all for the Mavs. If he did not put every bit of this team's offensive load on his shoulders, the Mavs would be facing an 0-3 hole and would have been blown out in Game's 2 and 3.
When Dirk is off the floor, the Mavericks have been outscored by double digits this series. And for games that have been decided by two points the past two meetings, that is an outstanding number.
Dirk's teammates in Game 3 shot a lowly 3-for-11 in the fourth quarter and got to the line zero times. This gave Nowitzki virtually no support on the offensive end.
Dirk's favorite scoring buddy, Jason Terry, was non-existent, going 0-4 from the field in the fourth.
Dirk Nowitzki can do it all for this team. The Heat know what is coming from him, and they still can't stop him.
Dirk has to be a little more selfish earlier in the game. Take more shots, establish a rhythm for his teammates and hopefully give the Mavericks a comfortable lead when he heads to the bench to rest.
However, if the Mavs want to have a realistic shot at their first NBA Championship, one of their seven Robins also needs to show up in the final quarter of any game.
Mavs Bench Needs to Come Alive
The Mavericks off the bench (MOB) need to play like the MOB they once were.
Since the Finals have started, this staple of the Mavericks team has been a ghost.
The Mavericks' bench averaged an amazing 39 PPG in their Western Conference Playoff rounds before facing Miami. Since then, the MOB has averaged a lowly 21 PPG—almost half of its scoring before the NBA Finals.
When the Mavericks knocked off the two-time defending Champs (the Los Angeles Lakers) the bench scored 86 points. The Lakers scored 86 points. That's just an example of what they are capable of.
Jason Terry and J.J. Barea are going to continue to gain solid minutes in the rotation, even if Carlisle does tweak his game plan a bit.
These two have shot the ball way below their average, and if they can hit just a couple more shots they are used to hitting, then this series will be completely different.
It's not a huge hurdle for Barea and Terry to overcome, but it will make all the difference for a Mavericks team that has not played their best basketball on their terms.
Infuse Fresh Blood
Most of Mavericks Nation today is feeling the pains of not having Caron Butler return for this year's playoffs. As much as fans wanted him to return earlier, after losing Game 3 the way the Mavs did, today has been extra hard on Mavs Nation.
Pair Butler's absence with Roddy Beaubois's disappearance, and Mavericks fans and journalists alike are calling for either one of the former starters to suit up for the next game.
Although it would be inspirational and seem to be a quick fix, neither one of these guys is going to be the Mavericks' answer. Don't get me wrong, if either were healthy enough to play, both players would be a huge help to a Mavs team that is desperate for help when it comes to putting the ball through the hoop.
A healthy Butler would have essentially made the Mavericks the favorites over the Heat. A healthy Roddy B's presence would have certainly helped the Mavs get to the rim more and infused some much-needed quickness to their offense.
Alas, they are both not likely to return—or even suit up.
The Mavericks should now turn to the lanky 6'9", 185 pound G/F out of Florida. This castaway from the Knicks will have a huge impact for the Mavericks.
Brewer's athleticism, quickness, and shut-down defense will be crucial in helping the Mavs keep up with the Heat in transition, play better half-court defense, improve rotations and ultimately help the Mavs play their tempo.
Does anyone remember Game 1 of the Western Conference Semi's against the Lakers? After going down 16 points in the third quarter in the Staples Center, Carlisle turned to Corey Brewer. Brewer had five points, one rebound, one steal, and one assist—in eight minutes. He was instrumental in the Mavericks' comeback and eventual sweep of the former Champs.
Brewer will most likely replace Peja Stojakovic, who has been a liability on both ends of the floor. Whether Peja is unable to get his shot off, or is getting rocked by Bosh/LeBron, he has been a true negative for the Mavericks.
People will criticize Brewer's inability to spread the floor, but with his improved three-point shot (can it really be any worse than what Peja is doing?) Carlisle has to give this kid a chance.
Play the Same Basketball, Just a Little Better
In Game 1, the Mavericks lost the rebounding edge by 10. That was their focus for Game 2, and they changed it—winning the rebounding game in both Game's 2 and 3.
In Game 2, the Mavericks lost the free throw game. That was another focus for Game 3—which they fixed and easily won the battle with a +13 FT differential.
In Game's 1, 2, and 3, the Mavericks have managed to lose the turnover game and it has really cost them. Turnovers against this Miami team has turned into easy buckets on the other end. Pretty much free points.
If the Mavericks would have cut down on turnovers, they would have a lead in this series.
Each one of these games has been a coin flip, and it has come down to who has played cleaner, smarter basketball down the stretch. The Maverick's simply need to keep doing the same things, hang around with the Heat, and cut down on these costly turnovers.
Although it feels like the Mavericks are being destroyed by the Heat, if you take those sloppy turnovers out of the offense the Mavericks would have control of the tempo, style and ultimately the score of the game.
With these often uncharacteristic turnovers halting the flow for the Mavericks, it is hard for them to put together a clean game.
The Mavericks are one of the best teams when they are using a free-flowing offense in the hands of Jason Kidd. When turnovers are stopping this flowing system by not letting them get shots off (and giving up a dunk on the other end) the Mavs go into severe droughts. When they don't have turnovers in play, the Mavericks go on "Cinderella" runs.
It's not magic, it's simple turnovers. And they are cursing the Mavericks.
The last two games of the NBA Finals have both been decided by two points. One Dirk hit the game winner, the other he missed the game-tying shot.
One bounce here, or a call there, and the series could be 2-1 to Dallas.
Although it is so easy to hit the panic button, the Mavericks simply need to not overreact. The Mavericks have not played their best basketball yet—no where close to it.
The Mavericks haven't even put together a decent game wire-to-wire this series. Not once have they shown a solid 48 minute outing. And it's only 2-1.
The Mavericks need to take it one game at a time, and if they play any where near their best basketball, well, then they will have a chance to win this series. And that's all you need, a chance.
Each game the Mavericks have shown improvements in their game. Each game they are chipping away at Miami and finding more avenues to win. Now they just need to take them.
Dallas is clearly improving game-to-game, getting better shots and playing better defense. Shots just haven't been falling—ones that should be. Miami has shown no real improvement, and looks to be more vulnerable as the series goes on.
Call me crazy, but I think the Mavericks have found a formula to win.
The Mavericks are beginning to act, rather than react.
Dallas has won five quarters, Miami won four, and three have been tied. Miami has won two games, Dallas one. This series is far from over.
No one said it was going to be easy. In fact, everyone said it was going to be incredibly hard to beat this Heat team.
But, if any team has shown the resiliency to make one final comeback, it's the Dallas Mavericks.
Chin up Mavs fans, you still have Dirk Nowitzki—don't count yourselves out just yet.
Game 4 is Tuesday night in Dallas. Coverage starts at 8:30PM/EST on ABC.