Dallas learned some hard lessons and was asked some hard questions in their Game 1 loss in the NBA finals. What do they have to do to rebound from that and even their series with the Heat?
Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle said “rebound” so often during his Thursday morning meeting with the press it sounded like his meditation mantra. The Mavericks gave up 16 offensive rebounds in Game 1 — Dallas is the taller team and in theory should have the rebounding advantage. But as pointed out over at NBA Playbook, the Heat’s ball movement and dribble penetration forced a lot of defensive rotations by the Mavericks and by the second or third they lost shape and lost their rebounding position. Don’t expect that to happen again.
Also, Dirk Nowitzki has to be a bigger rebounding force. When Tyson Chandler rotates out to help on defense, Dirk has to dominate the boards. He did not in Game 1.
But it’s going to take more for Dallas to bounce back.
They are going to have to adjust to the perimeter athleticism and the speed of the Heat’s defensive closeout, then knock down their shots.
Many people point to Jason Terry and J.J. Barea missing looks they normally knock down in game 1 (they were a combined 4-of-18 shooting). That is somewhat true. But the speed of the closeouts by the Heat seemed to throw Dallas off, get them thinking and rushing a little. Dallas has to settle down, slow down and knock down those open looks to win one in Miami.
Miami shot the ball well from three in Game 1 and that will be another issue — LeBron hit 4-of-5 and he is almost impossible to defend when he can do that. As a team Miami shot 45.9 percent from three. The key reason is that 10 of their 24 three attempts came from the corner — where the shot is a foot shorter than out on the arc. The corner three is the most efficient shot in basketball and teams game plan to take that shot away (see the Spurs under Popovich if you want an example). Dallas cannot give up that shot because Mario Chalmers and others can hit it. Consistently.
There will be other keys to Game 2. Can Jason Kidd stick with Dwyane Wade, because he’ll have to down the stretch. Can Nowitzki pay for Miami helping off of him (Miami did that but Dirk did not have a monster night)? Will the Mavericks use much zone at all and can they have better success with it than they did in Game 1 (when Miami had little problem with it).
But the biggest question is can Dallas close against the Heat? This was a close game where Miami pulled away in the final five minutes. LeBron James has become a force as a closer and we all know Wade can do it as well in the biggest of games. Dallas has to prove it can win in a close one with the Heat at some point, and they had better do it sooner rather than later.
If Dallas goes down 2-0 they are in serious trouble. Even heading back home. To win four out of five from the Heat, with their stars and they way they are playing now, is nearly impossible. This is not must win for Dallas, but it’s close.
They have to rebound.