First half shooting and mistakes cause for Mavericks loss

The Dallas Mavericks and the Miami Heat battled it out Tuesday night in Miami for Game 1 of the NBA Finals, a rematch of the 2006 NBA Finals. But unlike the 2006 Finals, the Heat took Game 1 92-84. Maybe it was nerves, maybe it was excitement. Whatever it was, this game was not pretty. The Mavs finished the game with 37 percent shooting and the Heat finished the game with a slight edge at 39 percent shooting. Both teams turned the ball over off bobbled rebounds and miscommunicated passes. Free throw shooting was poor (Wade missed three in the first half).

The game opened with a few surprises on the defensive end. Mavericks shooting guard DeShawn Stevenson picked up LeBron James and Mavericks small forward Shawn Marion picked up Dwayne Wade. The defensive switch had more of an affect on WadeS who was bothered by Marion’s length. Wade was quiet in the first half scoring 7 points. On the other end, Miami’s center, Joel Anthony, picked up the red-hot Dirk Nowitzki. The athletic Anthony has been a defensive force during the playoffs, which earned him a starting spot in the last series against the Celtics. Putting Anthony on Nowitzki helped keep Miami power forward Chris Bosh out of foul trouble. Good thing too, because Bosh needed to make an impact on this game, and he did. Bosh scored 19 points and had 9 rebounds in 39 minutes.

The Mavericks double teamed LeBron early which got Bosh involved in the opening minutes of the first quarter. He was a beast on the offensive boards grabbing a couple or tipping them out to his teammates. He had 7 rebounds in the first half. He scored in the paint and with his midrange jumper. He finished the half with 13 points. Heat point guard Mike Bibby was quiet from the floor missing four open three-point shots and was almost a non-factor in this game.

On the defensive end the Heat were suffocating. Joel Anthony came up with two great blocks in the first quarter. The Heat big men were active on the boards. The Heat were somewhat effective with their defensive rotation, but it helped that the Dallas shooters were missing open three-pointers. The Mavericks went 5 1/2 minutes without a field goal in the first quarter. Wade scored two points the first quarter and  missed three free throws in the half. At the end of the first quarter, both teams were shooting 29 percent from the floor. Miami had 2 turnovers and the Heat had 4 turnovers. LeBron lead all scorers with 8 points.

In the second quarter the Mavericks switched to a zone defense to compensate for the size of Jason Terry and J.J. Barea in the back court. The Mavericks have practiced their zone defense and used it on a regular basis during the regular season. Although the defense picked up by the Mavericks, they were not crashing the boards and the Heat continued to pick up offensive rebounds for put backs or second chance points. The Mavericks ended the quarter scoring in 8 of their last 9 possessions, including Nowitzski hitting back-to-back shots (a three and then a turn-around jumper), a three-point play from Tyson Chandler, and a Terry three-pointer. There were nine lead changes in the game by the end of the first half. The Mavericks lead the game at half time.

The Mavs started the second half with a quick 8 point lead, but the Heat came back and took over the fourth quarter, like they have in every game they’ve won during the playoffs. But the outcome of the game was ultimately decided by the rebounding, three point shots and points off the bench. The Heat out-rebounded the Mavs 46-36, 16-6 on offensive rebounds. The Heat, who were shooting 32 percent from the three-point line, but they shot 45 percent during Game 1 making 11 three-pointers to the Mavericks 9 three-pointers.

The Mavs bench was held to a miserable 17 points. Terry had 12 of those points. Give credit to the Heats defense for shutting down the Mavericks red-hot bench shooters, J.J. Barea and Peja Stojakovic. The Heats bench scored 27 points with Mario Chalmers scoring 12 points. Chalmers and Mike Miller combined for five three-pointers.

The Heat pulled away in the fourth quarter with a big three-pointer by Dwayne Wade, a dunk by Chris Bosh and a three-point play by LeBron and a final dunk to seal the deal by LeBron. The Heat continued their streak at home during the playoffs, now 9-0, and broke the Mavericks postseason five-game win streak with a win in Game 1.

In order for the Mavs to win tonight, they need to pound the boards and prevent the Heat from having as many second chance points. The Mavs bench will have to outscore the Heat bench, and more bench players will have to contribute to the scoring. J.J. Barea and Peja Stojakovic need to make their presence known in this game, otherwise the Heat will win. Finally, the Mavs will have to keep rotating the ball to create open shots. The Mavs had plenty of open looks Game 1 but they did not convert. Keep rotating the ball to open players and keep shooting.

Game 2 is scheduled for Thursday, June 2, 2011 in Miami.


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