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.