Rapid Reaction to Game 1

I'll try and make this one short and to the point seeing that I have exams to study for. The Mavericks lost a tough game to the Heat tonight as they fell 92-84 in a very defensive minded game. How defensive you may ask? Both teams shot underneath 40%. To put that into perspective, Dallas is averaging 39% just from the 3-point line. The game started out as two teams trying to just size up the other. Both the Mavs and Heat came out a little timid, especially one Shawn Marion who got it together later in the game. Both teams traded blows back and forth throughout the game with multiple lead changes, but the Heat were able to withstand and give out enough body blows to win game 1 of the series. The first game 1 the Mavericks have dropped this post season.

What Went Wrong?

Remember that symbolic game to sweep the Lakers and send Phil Jackson fishing? The Mavericks bench had 89 points in that game, tying the total of the entire Laker team. The Mavs bench put 17 points tonight. 12 of them being from Jason Terry in the first half (Terry's only points) Barea had one lay-up on I believe 1 of 9 shooting, and Peja went 0 for on his 3 point attempts which were all good looks, but couldn't find the bottom of the net. This is not good for Dallas at all. If there is one clear advantage the Mavericks have in this series, it is their bench. The Heat bench had 27 points tonight with 12 coming from Mario Chalmers. Needless to say, the bench needs to play better if the Mavericks are going to win this series. Open looks have to be hit by both Peja and Terry so that some of the defensive pressure can be released from Nowitzki. 13 of 35 possessions Nowitzki was doubled (37% of the time) If this is how the Heat chooses to defend the Maverick offense, someone else has to step up. In a series where Dallas is going up against the offensive three man firepower of James, Wade, and Bosh, the bench needs to step up and outscore the Heat bench in order to be effective in this series.

No Need to Panic

Many stats are going to be mentioned before game 2 of this series Thursday night, and my only response to these stats are "2006". Stats like...teams that win game 1 win 70% of the time, or... teams that win both games 1 and 2 win 90 % of the time. So, on a look back to 2006, The Dallas Mavericks had home-court advantage and won the first two games on their home floor. Sadly, everyone bough into these statistics and started planning parade routes around downtown Dallas and the Mavs proceeded to lose the next 4 games to the Heat. So, these stats really don't mean a thing, because this game could go either way. It’s not like Dallas was just flat-out outplayed in game 1 of the Finals. They remained competitive and hung around in a game where they couldn't get their bench going and were out rebounded 46-36. (10 of those 46 rebounds for Miami being offensive) If I were to tell you the Mavericks were played the Heat and the Mavs bench combined for 17 points, Terry didn't score in the 2nd half, and Dallas was vastly out rebounded, you would think it was a 16, maybe 20 point victory for the Heat. Wrong, it was 8. The game was there for the Mavericks to take, but just couldn't capitalize on key moments of the game. As Coach Carlisle said in his post-game interview, "There were times when I thought if we got a loose ball here or hit a shot there we would have had a chance to win the game." He went on to say. "I know we'll come out better next game." The Mavericks are a jump shooting team, and a very good one at that, they just had a rough night on the offensive end tonight, and that should clear up on Thursday.

Also Noteworthy

I know after 2006 it’s very easy to blame the officials after a loss. It is very easy to blame the officials for any loss, but not tonight. There were some questionable calls, but not enough to greatly influence the game, not tonight anyway. Dallas made 25 free-throws tonight on 32 attempts, while Miami his just under 20 free-throws with 19 on 26 attempts from the line. J.J. Barea seemed to be a non-factor tonight, as it seemed that this was the first game all post-season that got to him a little bit as to where he was and what he's accomplished. The 5'10" Puerto Rican will respond though with much needed penetration to jump start the Mavericks offense. Haywood was solid off the bench tonight with 3 points, 7 rebounds, and 3 blocks. Stevenson added good defense against James in the first half forcing him into tough shots, and keeping him from driving the lane. One of the main reasons the field goal percentages were so low tonight is that both defenses forced the other offense into jump-shots instead of giving up lay-ups. Shawn Marion, after coming out a little timid, was good tonight with 16 points and 10 rebounds to go along with 4 assists and a block. If Marion can do this consistently he will be a big factor the rest of this series. Nowitzki played his normal great game tonight with 27 points and 8 rebounds with 2 assists. Breaking news about Dirk though is that he has a torn tendon on his left middle-finger. Dirk said that this won't affect him, although he will be wearing a splint on his left hand (non-shooting hand) for the remainder of the series.

Closing Notes

To win this series the Mavericks bench needs to play a much more dominant role in the series. The defense was good tonight, and it is a game that Tyson Chandler said "we felt like we should have won." This team won't be rattled this easily. They will come out Thursday night and try to overcome their horrible shooting performance, the big 3 of Miami, and the very hard to listen to PA announcer of the American Airlines Arena to try and go out and achieve a split in Miami to bring the series back tied at 1.

-Colby

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