Dallas has counted on its zone defense as more than just a change of pace. In a series where Tyson Chandler might have to chase Chris Bosh out on the perimeter, the zone could be a way to keep Chandler in the paint protecting the rim.
But in Game 1, the Heat just shredded it.
Mario Chalmers drove into the heart of it and drew fouls. Chris Bosh was shredding it with interior passing. Mike Miller and Chalmers knocked down threes over the top of it. And the zone is a notoriously poor defense for rebounding anyway, and that turned out to be a big problem for the Mavericks in Game 1.
CBSSport’s Matt Moore asked the Heat’s Chalmers about the zone.
“They’re going to play a lot of zone, that’s who they are. When we’re hitting shots like that, we’re hard team to stop. And tonight we were able to do that.”
According to ESPN Stats, the Heat scored 20 points on 18 zone possessions by the Mavericks. That works out to 1.11 points per possession, which is higher than the 1.06 they had on other possessions. (Think of it this way, Miami averaged 1.093 points per possession during the regular season and no team was higher than 1.095, but Miami was better than that against the zone.)
It’s one weapon Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle may have to leave in the bag from now on.
There are two ways to really attack a zone — pound it in the middle or shoot over the top of it. Miami did both.
Remember Udonis Haslem’s late game and-one that was one of the dagger plays of the game? Came against the zone. Miller’s second half three? Against the zone.
It changed things this way — Dallas had to go away from it. Which means they had to play man-to-man on Dwyane Wade and LeBron James late. Advantage Heat.
Dallas’ bigger issues are on the other end of the floor — they have got to knock down shots against the Heat defense to stand a chance — but not having one of their go-to defensive sets will hurt the Mavericks as well.
J.R. Smith (slightly out of context): “We don’t start paying attention until after All-Star break.”
Raptors guard Delon Wright dislocated his shoulder, but at least he won’t need surgery.
Raptors media relations:
Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN:
The Raptors (11-5), off to a surprisingly strong start, are second in the Eastern Conference. They’ve bought themselves margin for error. All in all, a month-long absence for Wright isn’t so bad.
Wright had been a key part of an excellent all-bench unit that included Fred VanVleet, O.G. Anunoby, C.J. Miles and Jakob Poeltl. Two-way player Lorenzo Brown has assumed Wright’s role, and Norman Powell – returning from his own injury – will provide a boost. Toronto can also stagger Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan more.
The chemistry of the bench mob was something to behold, but the Raptors should withstand this.
Clippers point guard Patrick Beverley underwent knee surgery – never a great sign.
The prognosis is about as bad as could be expected.
Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN:
This injury isn’t just a setback for this season. It could derail the Clippers’ long-term plan.
They’ve already lost nine straight, and Danilo Gallinari and Milos Teodosic are injured. If they fall further out of playoff position, they could become sellers before the trade deadline, especially with DeAndre Jordan ($24,119,025 player option for next season) and Lou Williams ($7 million salary on expiring contract).
Health was always the major question with this team, and it won’t soften as Blake Griffin and Danilo Gallinari age through lucrative contracts.
The final year of Beverley’s contract is guaranteed for just $5,027,028 next season, and the 29-year-old will spend most of the summer recovering from this injury. That salary is probably low enough that the Clippers will keep him without hesitation.
Until then, down a couple point guards, the Clippers have no choice but to continue leaning more on Austin Rivers. That also means greater roles for second-round rookies Jawun Evans and Sindarius Thornwell. That’s just too many players facing outsized responsibility.
The Pelicans, Grizzlies, Jazz and any other team competing for the final playoff spots in the Western Conference ought to feel better about their chances. They’re still competing with each other, and it’s doubtful all three make it. But Beverley’s injury helps clear the way.
The Clippers, who didn’t want to take a major step back after Chris Paul‘s departure, must confront an even more uneasy reality.
Giannis Antetokounmpo – one of the NBA’s best players – won’t help new Bucks teammate Eric Bledsoe in a revenge game against the Suns tonight.
Not only is Milwaukee missing Mirza Teletovic and John Henson (and Matthew Dellavedova and Jabari Parker), Antetokounmpo is out.
Matt Velazquez of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:
Antetokounmpo will miss Wednesday’s game against the Phoenix Suns due to right knee soreness.
Antetokounmpo says his knee soreness is the same injury he dealt with in the off-season, which caused him to withdraw from the Greek national team.
“It feels good,” Antetokounmpo said after sitting out shootaround. “I’m just trying to be careful with it and not make any damage. That’s it, because it’s a long season and I’m trying to be careful.”
The Bucks have been outscored by 18.6 points per 100 possessions without Antetokounmpo this season (and are +2.3 without him). Phoenix isn’t good, but neither is Milwaukee without Antetokounmpo.
I don’t think Bledsoe will mind a chance to get more aggressive tonight, though.