Blog Entry

How do you not double Dirk in the clutch?

Posted on: June 3, 2011 4:39 pm
Edited on: June 4, 2011 3:34 pm

Posted by Matt Moore

All night long in Game 2, the Heat had the answer. Dirk Nowitzki, injured finger or no injured finger, was not going to beat them. J.J. Barea, Peja Stojakovic, DeShawn Stevenson, sure, they want to knock down open shots off the double-team of the Big German? Absolutely. Have at it. But Dirk Nowitzki was not going to do what Dirk Nowitzki does. And for three quarters, they didn't let him.

Then the Heat took that gameplan, which had helped build them a 15-point lead with six minutes remaining, and set it on fire.

There were many questions about the Heat's gameplan on both sides of the ball during their epic meltdown in Game 2. Most of the questions surround the final play and Erik Spoelstra's decision not to foul when they had a foul to give on the Mavericks' final possession. But if you want to prevent the possibility of free throws if Nowitzki is quick enough to get into his shooting motion, you can rationalize that decision.

Others will wonder why Chris Bosh, hardly a defensive stalwart, despite a stellar postseason, was the one guarding Bosh. But Bosh's length on Nowitzki's likely elbow fadeaway was a weapon to be used, so even that you can understand, especially with the concern of an offensive rebound and wanting to keep Udonis Haslem able to secure a miss. 

But not doubling Nowitzki? That's just madness.

On the play, LeBron James was on the wing. It was a short enough distance, James could have brought the double to keep Nowitzki from driving and still recover on Terry. Mario Chalmers can swing over to trap and shut off the angle which gave Nowitzki the double-back move to get pas Bosh. Udonis Haslem can attack at the rim. There's any number of opportunities. Wouldn't all of them allow open shots for the Mavericks? Absolutely. You know what they wouldn't allow? A shot from the deadliest player on the Mavericks and one of the best offensive players in the league. A game winner from Dirk Nowitzki, and a much better shot of avoiding the Mavericks tying the NBA Finals 1-1 on your home floor. 

It wasn't just the game winning play, though. The Heat had abandoned the double earlier after Jason Terry started making shots. All of the work the Heat had one by playing "on a string" went out the window as they became more anxious and less cohesive. The timeouts which were not present at the end of Game 2 for Spoelstra were spent trying to get the Heat back in their defensive sets. Instead, they failed to commit and the result was an outright disaster.

 In Game 3, it's the Heat's turn to make adjustments and try and rediscover their mental edge. If they don't, Nowitzki will go right back to work. The Heat have to play smarter, more selflessly, and with more cohesion on both sides of the ball.

And, oh,  yeah, they might want to bring some help on that Dirk guy.

Since: Mar 6, 2011
Posted on: June 4, 2011 11:07 am

How do you not double Dirk in the clutch?

yeah, geez , get someone to proof this.  Anyway, its hard to totally understand Miami's collapse. But credit Dallas for a lot of determination, and when they start to execute, they are lethal. LeBron got lazy too. Big surprise. Wade was great. Chandler inside is somethig I had said Miami would have to deal with. They did, partly, in game 2. Lets see in game 3. Carlisle is emerging as a top coach. Spoelstra isnt.....though Riley's fingerprints on the defense are obvious. Ive picked dallas in this series. I think the veteran toughness was evident in game two, and the smug arrogance of LBJ and well, yes, wade, was in evidence too.  Back to dallas, its not going to be so easy for the Heat.

Since: Nov 3, 2006
Posted on: June 4, 2011 10:08 am

How do you not double Dirk in the clutch?

It's easy to say this in hindsight, but one thing to remember is that Dallas' role players had whittled the Miami lead down to only 4 before Dirk went to work. The double team wasn't working, Jason Terry was hitting shots and an adjustment needed to be made. Dirk had had an off night up until then and it's easy to see why it was tempting to remove the double on him when the other players were burning you. One number people may not be aware of, but I guarantee you Spoelstra was aware of is that although Dirk and Terry were both top 5 4th quarter scorers in the NBA this year, Terry actually scored more 4th quarter points than Dirk in the regular season. Terry was perfectly capable of completing the comeback if Miami didn't do something about him. It just turned out to be a mistake because Dirk stepped up to the plate. On that final play the Heat did succeed in forcing Dirk to go to his left, Dirk just finished the play anyway. If you can blame anything for Miami it was their offensive stagnation at the end of the game. 5 points in 7 minutes isn't going to get it done.

Since: Mar 23, 2008
Posted on: June 4, 2011 7:55 am

How do you not double Dirk in the clutch?

Hey Matt,

How do you not proof read before you post?

"Others will wonder why , hardly a defensive stalwart, despite a stellar postseason, was the one guarding Bosh"
" can swing over to trap and shut off the angle which gave Nowitzki the double-back move to get pas Bosh"
"The Heat have play smarter, "

Since: Jun 4, 2011
Posted on: June 4, 2011 7:43 am

How do you not double Dirk in the clutch?

yeah you can double Dirk, but does that guarantee the win for the Heat??? plenty of shooters on this Mavs team...doubling Dirk will only leave one of them open.

Since: Feb 3, 2008
Posted on: June 4, 2011 12:44 am

How do you not double Dirk in the clutch?

Carlisle is a good coach.  He has outcoached Scott Baio so far.  Chachi's a good coach, just didn't handle the end of the 2nd game right.  

Carlisle was one of the reason the Pacers made it to the finals in 2000.  He knows what he's doing and it shows.

Since: Sep 7, 2006
Posted on: June 3, 2011 10:46 pm

How do you not double Dirk in the clutch?


Since: Oct 4, 2006
Posted on: June 3, 2011 5:35 pm

How do you not double Dirk in the clutch?

I have said the exact same thing, double Dirk and you win, its not rocket science. the Heat wanted to learn the hard way. some coaches and players dont understand this concept. this will be the recipe to stop Dallas and will also be recipe that beats the Heat. thanks for a great game 2 guys.Cool

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