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NBA Finals: Mavs bench didn't show up for Game 1

Posted on: June 1, 2011 1:16 am
Edited on: June 1, 2011 3:16 am
Posted by Royce Young

MIAMI -- What was an incredible strength for the Mavericks through their first 15 playoff games became an ugly weakness in Game 1 of the NBA Finals. Pretty bad time for it, I'd say.

The Dallas bench, led by Jason Terry and J.J. Barea, pretty much didn't show up. Not in a they-came-out-flat-and-played-meh type of thing. More like a they-really-never-entered-the-arena
type of thing.

For the game, the Mavs' bench scored a total of 17 points on 4-22 shooting. Terry went 3-10 for 12 points. Barea went 1-8 for two points. Peja Stojakovic, who had been a pretty key part in spots for the Mavs, missed all three of his attemps, with all three being of the wide open 3-point variety. You know, pretty much entirely what he's on the floor to hit.

"We'll play better. I'm very certain of that," said Mavs coach Rick Carlisle. "Again, we had some opportunities that, shots we normally make, they didn't go down. So that was tough."

You could attribute a lot of the Mavs' struggles to simply missing shots. Stojakovic is almost always good to hit at least one of three when he's open from downtown. Terry had a number of solid looks. And Barea, who terrorized the Blazers, Lakers and Thunder, missed a number of runners and jumpers in the paint, even blowing two seemingly easy layups.

Good reason for Carlisle to be confident still.

Especially because, prior to Game 1, the Dallas bench was averaging 39.4 points per game this postseason. Against the Lakers, the second unit scored 86 points. They haven't scored fewer than 20 in any game this postseason (before Tuesday) and only under 25 once -- which was the first game of the playoffs. So yeah, the Mavs bench has been really good and a major part of the reason they're even here.

They just didn't show for the biggest game yet. Bummer.

"We struggled off the bench today," Barea said. "But we had our looks. We had our looks and we didn't knock them down. Thursday I think that's going to change."

Said Dirk: "I actually thought coming in that our bench was going to be a key for us. They did a good job there on Jet.

"J.J.'s got to take his time when he gets [in the paint]. Obviously they are collapsing and trying to block his shot. I thought he was rushing some of his shots in the paint. And we just got to relax and if it's not there, swing the ball to the weak side, because the shot is going to be there."

Miami's bench -- which has been far from as prolific as the Mavs -- scored 27 points to Dallas's 17. Consider this: During the 98 games the Heat have played this year, their bench has only outscored the opponent's eight times. Make it nine now, I guess. Not good if you're in the Maverick locker room. Terry, who is averaging 15.0 points a game (but on just 36 percent shooting) in the playoffs never was able to get going. He hit all three of his 3s in the first half and scored all 12 of his points in the first 24 minutes. LeBron switched over and guarded Terry a bit in the second half, but echoing his teammates, Terry chalked it up to just missing.

"We just didn't take advantage of opportunities," he said. "You have to finish at the basket. You have to make your wide open shots, and we didn't get that accomplished tonight."

What did it come down to? Was it really as simple as just missing shots? At the rim, Dallas went 1-6. In the paint, 0-2. Midrange, 0-4. And from 3, 3-10. A lot were indeed open, but the Heat defense was as locked in as ever. Every open shot has someone running hard at the shooter. Every path the rim was met with a Miami big rotating over.

It was an unusual night for the solid Maverick second unit and, with Dallas scoring just 84 points, you can really point right there as a big reason for the struggles. Get the normal output and Dallas puts up 106.

But I'm with Carlisle -- the bench will be better. And here's the thing too: It has to be.

Since: Jun 1, 2011
Posted on: June 1, 2011 10:10 pm

NBA Finals: Mavs bench didn't show up for Game 1

This was simply a game of missed shots. Throughout the entire game, Dirk and Jet had good looks at the bucket and missed, whether it be from deep or finishing at the rim. If they can simply hit the shots they've been making for the most part, they'll be fine. Their defense played a lot better than I expected, especially when they played the zone, just need to do a better job of knowing the personnel; Chalmers is most comfortable from the corners, and Miller is more comfortable from straightaway. And Peja and JJ have to show up.

Speaking of the NBA Finals, check out my write-up of the Top 5 Greatest NBA Finals performances of All-Time!


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