Friday, June 10, 2011

Notes on Game 5

The Mavericks won Game 5 of the Finals last night, giving them a chance to take the championship with just one win in Miami. Of course, Detroit in 1988, New York in 1994, and Boston in 2010 were in similar situations, up 3-2, but could not break the serve of their opponent in the road arena. Dallas will need to work even harder than they did tonight (the Mavs' effort was exemplified by Brian Cardinal, who repeatedly put himself in a good-faith position to receive charging calls against driving Miami players) to win a fourth game in this series. If they relent just slightly, Miami will quickly win two games and celebrate next Tuesday.

During the past two games, Dallas has missed Brendan Haywood (hip). DeShawn Stevenson had his knee drained after Game 4. Since January, they have been without erstwhile starting SF Caron Butler (knee). Dirk Nowitzki has a busted finger and is recovering from a sinus infection. Their three-guard rotation has an average height of 6'1". Yet they still took two of three games from the Heat in Miami. Dallas's coach Rick Carlisle has expertly managed his players' minutes while still ending each game with his best lineup of Kidd, Terry, Chandler, Marion, and Nowitzki. Marion's once-receding hairline and his unorthodox low-post game seem to have returned to their formerly robust condition circa 2003. What technological assistance Marion received for these two miracles, I do not know.

Dallas was out-assisted tonight, 25-23, and out-rebounded 36-26. Dallas only snared 26 boards, worse than the average of the worst regular-season team! FG attempts and FT attempts were roughly equal; the difference in the game, if we are to focus only on math, was the Mavs' 13-19 performance on three-pointers, against Miami's 8-of-20 night from beyond the line.

ABC's Jeff Van Gundy criticized young Ian Mahinmi for giving up a couple easy baskets to Chris Bosh. Weak defensive play is not surprising for an inexperienced player appearing for only the fifth time ever in the NBA playoffs (including one game with the Spurs last spring). However, Mahinmi grabbed a couple fierce rebounds and loose balls and generally did not embarrass himself while on the floor.

Dallas closed the game on a 17-4 run starting at the 4:22 mark, after Miami found several holes in Dallas's defense midway through the fourth quarter, punctuated by a James-to-Haslem dish and dunk. Down 96-95, Rick Carlisle called a timeout. Following the break, Dallas showed great ball movement on their next few offensive sets, as Jason Terry delivered the ball to Dirk Nowitzki for a dunk and to Jason Kidd for a game-clinching three-pointer. On defense, Dallas used the strength of Jason Kidd (who, as I noted on this blog earlier, was able to defend Kevin Durant in the previous series) to slow Lebron James from slipping loose for too much havoc.

Throughout the game, J.J. Barea took several ill-advised three-point shots while decently guarded, but still managed to sink 4 of 5 from that distance, matching the contribution of his counterpart Mario Chalmers. Chalmers, who made his reputation as a big shooter back in college and has done nothing to sully it in these Finals, made a mildly ridiculous shot at the end of the first quarter, throwing in a one-hander on the run from half-court while falling sideways. With Mike Bibby averaging 3.8 points and 1.0 assist in five Finals games, it is unclear why coach Erik Spoelstra continues to put him on the court to start games.

I predict Miami will win two very tight games down in Florida. Dallas has played great so far, but the Heat are very hard to beat at home. Without a 15-point Mavs comeback in Game 2, the Heat would be undefeated at home for the playoffs. (And add a couple more lucky breaks in Game 4, and the Heat could have swept the series.) Much credit is due to Dallas for finding a way to grab three wins. But I do not believe they will win another.


PAP_smear said...

"Marion's once-receding hairline and his unorthodox low-post game seem to have returned to their formerly robust condition circa 2003. What technological assistance Marion received for these two miracles, I do not know."

It seems that BhelAtlantic is insinuating that Marion is on 'roids. Why not come out and say it more directly?

Bhel Atlantic said...

Actually, I wasn't thinking that Marion is on steroids, and I regret if I gave that impression. Perhaps the Dallas training/medical staff is helping him better than the Miami and Toronto staffs could.