Dallas needs to win Game 4, and one of their best players has been on the bench for most of the season. It's time for the Dallas Mavs to pull a 'Udonis' playoff move and let Caron Butler see some minutes.
It is unorthodox.
It goes against the safe, conservative coaching that both teams' coaches embrace.
It is necessary.
In this series, Dallas has typically surrendered big leads only to fight back to make the games close. Rarely are they ahead, because they have limited scoring options outside of Dirk Nowitzski.
Coach Erik Spoelstra found out in the Eastern Conference Finals that necessity is the mother of all desperate substitutions. In Game 2 with the Miami Heat big men in early foul trouble, Spoelstra's hand was forced to go to his injured veteran, Udonis Haslem.
In his first few minutes Haslem was shaky, looked slightly lost, and you could see Spoelstra squirming on the sidelines because he was going against the conservative approach. But Haslem came through with a desperate energy that flowed to the rest of the team. Chicago had no gameplan in place to deal with him, and this threw their defense off just enough to allow the other players to get free.
Like Haslem, Butler is a solid scoring option and defender. He can give you rebounds, put-back baskets, and a good 10-15 minutes. The Heat D will be keyed in on Dirk, and with a few staggered screens, Butler should get easy looks at the basket.
If Mavs coach Rick Carlisle waits and allows Miami to sneak out with a Game 4 win, then the Butler thing will be a moot point. The Heat will be running downhill, and throwing in an injured veteran will smack of desperation. In Game 4, it will serve as a rallying point for the team and the fans. The narrative in the heads of the players will shift and can serve as a beacon of light.
If the Mavs are going to win this series, they need to stop playing 'uphill' against the Heat's ferocious defense and fast break points. They need another forward off the bench. Caron Butler can be the answer, but the issue is timing.
Game 4 is the perfect time. In fact, it's the only time that Butler can make that emotional and offensive impact.