Tag:Brendan Haywood
Posted on: June 2, 2011 4:32 pm

NBA Finals Shootaround Notes 6.2.11

MIAMI- Potent quotables and other notes from Heat and Mavericks shootaround before Game 2 Thursday morning.

Heat notes from Matt Moore

Carlisle: LeBron guarding Terry is "a compliment"

No one saw LeBron James guarding Jason Terry coming before Game 1. It was a huge adjustment and one that worked to near perfection as James obliterated the Terry-Nowitzki pick and roll with his length and athleticism.

Rick Carlisle was asked about whether he thought James would have the assignment repeated in Game 2.

"He's going to see their best players. James will guard him for sure. It's quite a compliment that they put him on him, because he's a great defender, and he draws a lot of respect that way, and we'll have to be ready to get him in a position to make plays."

Yeah, it's a compliment. It's also an extremely difficult thing to counter.


The Matrix was asked about pressure and the conversation suddenly devolved into an existential question of how everything in life is difficult in some regard. It was pretty incredible.

"Everything is tough. Nobody said anything is going to be easy. We try and do something, if you want something, you gotta work at it to be good at it. Sometimes it's hard to put your pants on in the morning. Some people try and put on both legs at the same time. They have real problems!"

That's Shawn Marion. Leaving you a lot to think about through a pants analogy. I spent the rest of the morning thinking about how difficult it is to put on pants. Instert blogger joke here.

Zone: A weapon not an answer

After Game 1, Rick Carlisle said he had to look at the tape but he thought the zone looked pretty good versus the Heat. I later noted the Heat scored 20 points on 18 possessions against the zone, which is not pretty good, so Thursday I doubled back and asked Carlisle about what he thought of how effective the zone was after watching the tape.

"I thought it was... okay. We're not going to make a living with our zone. It's something we can use during certain stretches. It's a weapon, but it's not a cure-all."

The big debate is whether you live with the damage the Heat did to the zone in Game 1 and dare them to repeat the performance or alter your strategy. That'll be something to watch in Game 2.

Cool Mav Cats

The Mavericks' demeanor on Wednesday was predictably a bit down, with the team having to deal with media and the weight of the loss. But Thursday morning they seemed to be back to their happy-go-lucky selves. There was an atmosphere of pleasant energy, with Shawn Marion ebullient and J.J. Barea feeling more confident. We'll have to see how that translates on the floor in Game 2. 

Heat notes from Royce Young

The unconventional side of history.

Erik Spoelstra was asked about a pretty unique stat that his team produced in Game 1 of the NBA Finals.  The Heat are the first team in some 35 years to have two starters not score in the NBA Finals, and win. Both Joel Anthony and Mike Bibby didn't add a point to the Heat's total of 94. That's pretty remarkable.  "We probably had a lot of things, statistically, that was a bit unorthodox," Spoelstra said. "Our team is built different. I don't really compare it to other teams." Bibby missed all four of his shots, all being of the 3-point variety.   "He's due," Spoelstra said. "It could be just the time for him to knock down a couple big ones for us." Mike Miller, totally cool you guys.

Mike Miller has had some shoulder issues this post season to go along with a list of other injuries. Funny how Dirk's getting all the attention though right?  Miller wore a pretty obtrusive-looking shoulder brace in Game 1 and appeared to be in some pain during the second half. Nothing to see here though, says Spoelstra. "He's fine. Occasionally, it gets tweaked during the game and it'll look worse than it is," he said. With the Mavs zone, Miller is a pretty important part to breaking that because of his outside shot. But that's if he's healthy and has no tweaks to speak of, I'd say.  Going home isn't all it's cracked up to be.

Chris Bosh is a native of Dallas so naturally when Game 3 rolls in next week, it'll be a homecoming for him on the biggest NBA stage.  But he's not all that excited about it. He mentioned the headaches of people wanting a piece of you were you're home but also that he's been back so many times that it's not all that special anymore.  He was asked about whether he likes playing in Dallas.  "Pros and cons. Pros, and cons," he said.  The way he said it, it really seemed like there was a lot more to it. What are some pros and what are some cons?  He thought for a minute and almost exasperated even thinking about it he just said, "I don't know. I really don't know."
Posted on: June 2, 2011 3:44 pm

Mavs' plan of attack on Heat is "containment"

Posted by Matt Moore

When LeBron James and Dwyane Wade only took seven combined free throws in Game 1, the Mavericks had to feel pretty good about it. After all, these are two of the biggest stars in the league and they get calls comensurate with such a status. Especially after 2006, the Mavs have to be thrilled with how that worked out. Rick Carlisle's never thrilled about anything with the media, but he did describe the fact that the two superstars were limited at the free throw line as "a good sign."

Carlisle attributed to the low foul total in part to Dallas' defense, which has elected to attack Wade and James by staying in front of them and bringing help, encouraging those long-range and mid-range jumpers. 

"Someof it was the kind of defense we were playing," Carlisle siad Thursday morning, "we were in a containing mode. But they jumped up and hit some shots, which they can do."

That's part of what has to frustrate the Mavericks so much about Game 1. James and Wade were 7-11 at the rim in Game 1, which is a decent amount but to be expected. But they were 8-14 from beyond 16 feet including 3-pointers. That's a difference of 1.57 points per possession from longer range shots compared to 1.27 points per possession at the rim. Both were effective. But if what you're giving the Heat isn't working, and what you can't give the Heat isn't working, how do you adjust

Carlisle's answer is rebounding. If the Mavericks can't get back their defensive identity, it's going to be a long flight back to Dallas, and Carlisle knows it. 

"It's important for us to play our game better," Carlise said. "We do that, we get our rebounding shored up, we play better defensively, we'll put ourselves in a good position."

Posted on: June 2, 2011 1:25 pm
Edited on: June 2, 2011 3:59 pm

Rick Carlisle's concern: boards, boards, boards

Posted by Matt Moore

MIAMI -- Rick Carlisle said or referenced rebounding nine times during his eight minutes and ten seconds speaking to reporters Thursday morning at shootaround before Game 2 of the NBA Finals. So you might say he was a little concerned. 

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Carlisle said affording additional opportunities against the Heat offense is not something the Mavericks can live with. Nearly every angle discussed returned to the question of rebounding and how that part of the game has to improve. 

"It's important for us to play our game better. We do that, we get our rebounding shored up, we play better defensively, we'll put ourselves in a good position." 

The Mavericks were outrebounded 46-36 in Game 1, with the Heat grabbing nearly 35 percent of all available offensive rebounds. Against a team with Miami's star power, those are extra possessions that make it that much harder for you to control the game and wear down on you trying to defend the Heat onslaught. That's in part why Carlisle said the stats don't tell the whole story of the game, despite Dallas having more points on second chance opportunities. 

The Heat got major contributions from players like Mike Miller, who's nursing injuries in both thumbs, his left shoulder, and other minor ailments. The amount of attention Tyson Chandler had to play on help defense led in part to the problems on the glass, as well as issues with details.

For more on the importance of Carlisle in Game 2, read Gregg Doyel's column on CBSSports.com on what the Mavs coach must do.
Posted on: June 2, 2011 1:06 pm
Edited on: June 2, 2011 3:15 pm

Dirk Nowitzki's finger not bothering him yet

Posted by Matt Moore

MIAMI -- Dirk Nowitkzi described the pain in his injured middle finger as "not bad at all" Thursday morning and said it should be "ready to go." There is no question Nowitzki will play Thursday night in Game 2. 

Nowitkzi said he "tore a tendon" in his off hand after Game 1 Tuesday night, and planned to wear a splint on it for the remainder of the playoffs. Thursday he spoke more about the wrap on it. In particular, Nowitzki is worried about wrapping it too much on the top, which would impact his dribble. Nowitzki said he had tried two different wraps on it Wednesday. As far as Tuesday's game, he thinks he has the solution.

"I'm trying to try something tonight. The main thing is I want to be able to feel the ball in my left hand, so I don't want to overwrap it on top, because I like to drive with my left."

On Wednesday, Chris Bosh made reference to how that could impact Nowitzki if a defender were to swipe at it. Bosh said he would never do such a thing, with a grin, while Udonis Haslem made it clear he wouldn't do such a thing under any circumstances, as he's not that type of player. 

Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle made it clear that Nowitzki's injury is not something that's going to be factored a lot in their decision making, because of the type of player Nowitzki is.

"He's going to play and he's not going to complain about it."

The question is whether his shot is affected by bracing the ball with an injured hand, or the impact of constant contact on it. Nowitzki, though, didn't seem worried in comments during shootaround. 

"It'll be ready to go."
Posted on: June 2, 2011 11:05 am

Since when did the Heat become super-closers?

Posted by Royce Young

MIAMI -- The Miami Heat are absolutely terrifying closing out games.

That's something my colleague Matt Moore said Tuesday night as the Heat steamrolled past the Mavericks in the final five minutes of Game 1.

But that's also something no one on this planet was saying four months ago. At that time, it was about how Miami couldn't close. It was all about how they were something like 2-17 on shots with the game within a possession in the final minute. It was all about their sub-par record in games decided by six or less.

Now look at them. Closing games like they're Mariano Rivera. Amazing how talented people committed to their craft and willing to work hard can, you know, improve and stuff.

They've found an incredible rhythm and a superior confidence in what they're doing. All five players walk to the same beat in those crunch time minutes. LeBron has sort of elevated himself to the closer role for the Heat, handling the ball and finishing out games. But still there's nothing about who should be taking the shots or who should be controlling the offense. It's just about getting it done.

And lately, man have they been getting it done.

Twelve-point deficit in Chicago? No problem. Five-point game with four minutes left? Let's double it. In February, all anyone could talk about is what a disaster this was in terms of finishing games. The Heat didn't know where to go with the ball, they didn't know roles. Now, they're figuring it out.
And it makes them terrifying. 

Here's the thing though: Why are the Heat being praised for this seemingly selfless deferral to one another? It's simple: Because it's working. The times back in February where LeBron was hoisting shots while Dwyane Wade stood idly by, the outrage of not letting Wade close was overwhelming. But it's clicking now, it's producing results. And so instantly it becomes the model when in reality, nothing was ever that different.

A lot though is stemming from a more visible willingness by Wade to step aside. He's not intent on being The Closer anymore. He just wants to be part of a team that closes. Which is what it takes to win. Which is what is most important.

"Obviously myself, Chris and LeBron are going to be the focal point of the offense at the end," he said. "You can see guys getting more comfortable in their roles. Normally I was the guy here in Miami that at the end of games I always had the ball in my hand. So it took me time to get comfortable with that and get comfortable saying 'all right, LeBron, you take it.' And that's part of wanting to win and wanting to do whatever it takes to win. That's another part of putting pride and ego aside, figuring out what's best for the team."

The Heat, for all the criticism aimed at them all year, have absolutely sacrificed. They aren't selfish. It's about winning by whatever means necessary. There isn't any talk among them about who should take this shot or that shot. No talk about the box score and that LeBron took nine more shots than Wade. It's about winning. No alpha dog battles. That team said they were going to sacrifice and do whatever it took to win. Well, they're three wins away now and it looks like their plan is working.

That didn't come overnight though. That came through a lot of hard work. And a lot of failure. Here, it's better if LeBron says it.

"It comes from failure throughout the season," he said. "Having games where we felt like we could or should have won and we just didn't execute ... Once we figured out how we were going to do it together for the better of the team, we started to close games out, figure things out, figure out certain sets that would work for us in late-game situations."

Said Erik Spoelstra: "It took time. I think the more time you're in these experiences, and we have been in a lot of close games, particularly in the playoffs, the more confident the guys get."

Spoelstra's quote reminds me of a quote from Thunder general manager Sam Presti's the other day. Improvement isn't a result of time elapsed, but it’s actually what’s been accumulated, what’s been experienced within that time. The Heat experienced a crapton of stuff this season. It was a crash course in playing together and figuring out what works and what doesn't. And really, considering the circumstances, I'd say they've done a pretty remarkable job.

They're closing games with impressive style. Now, it's about closing a series. They've got a leg up on the Mavericks 1-0. As goes anything with the Heat, one time of failure and all this goodwill flies out the door. One time of not closing and finishing poorly and everyone is ready to write and talk about their problems.

But right now, they're terrifying. And that's the truth.

Posted on: June 2, 2011 2:37 am
Edited on: June 2, 2011 10:32 am

NBA Finals: Heat defense takes control in and out

Posted by Matt Moore

MIAMI -- In the NBA, the best defenses live by a few principles. You've got to control the paint, nothing easy. You've got to close out on shooters as best you can. You've got to take advantage of opportunities to attack the ball while playing consistent position. And you've got to be willing to live with something. Some type of shot has to be what you're willing to surrender. The Celtics and Spurs, the two great defenses of the last decade, along with the newest model in Chicago, are built on this concept. Eventually you have to be willing to surrender some type of shot. Most often it's the mid-range jumper from one of the bigs, or the corner three as the last rotation. Sometimes it's the guard driving off the pick and roll free as the double hedges on a star screener with range (read: Dirk, as both the Thunder and Lakers let the ball-handler roam free off the pick and roll to guard Dirk). You can't guard everything, all the time. 

Can you?

The Miami Heat in the playoffs are proving that's not exactly true. They can defend everything. They are defending everything. They have the right combination of scheme and athleticism to cover every angle and contest everything. It's just a matter of being able to know where you should be, and get there faster. The rest is just trust. But we'll get there. 

This isn't to say the Heat's defense is the best we've ever seen. It's not. they have the best defensive rating of any Finals team since LeBron's Cavaliers in 2007, better than the vaunted Celtics teams of recent years, but while it is very good, it is not quite of that caliber yet. But you can't argue with the results, especially after their work in Game 1 against the Mavs. The Mavs feature such a balanced attack, Miami knew going in they were going to have a significant challenge from the Mavs' shooters.  

A Daunting Task

"They're one of the most impressive offenses I've seen," Mike Miller said Wednesday, "with the way they move the ball and the shooters they have."

Chris Bosh said the Heat knew going in to expect an assault, and the Heat were prepared for it, whether it was from the Big German or the Little Barea:

"We know that they have great finishers. Dirks' going to be in there, J.J.'s definitely going to be in there."

The Heat aren't lacking in swagger but they're also full up on respect for the Mavericks. In Game 1, they held the Mavericks to 44 percent effective field goal percentage (which factors 3-point shooting). By comparison, the Mavericks are shooting a playoffs-best 52 percent eFG% this postseason. The Heat were able to cripple the Mavericks by working in an unorthodox way. Outside-in. 

String Theory

About a month ago, the Heat Index ran a story talking about a primary defensive element the Heat had spoken of all season. The story outlined what coach Erik Spoelstra described as "playing on a string."
So what does "being on a string" mean exactly?

"It’s all guys moving together," Wade explained. "Our principles are protecting the paint. If the ball skips over the top, and I have to close out on the 3-point shooter, then that opens up the drive because I have to close and chase him off the 3-point line. So ‘being on a string’ as in, the bottom man -- the next man -- has to come over to be in his position. It’s not about one person. It’s about all five doing their jobs. If the bottom man comes over, that means he’s leaving his man. So now the opposite man has to sink down on that man."
via The Miami Heat on a string - Heat Index Blog - ESPN.

This is nothing groundbreaking, it's an extrapolation of the help defense we've seen before. What's absolutely stunning is how fast the Heat are able to do it. The Heat don't just react to the ball movement, closing out on where the ball goes to try and run off a 3-pointer. They anticipate, rushing to cover the expected pass before it's made. That means instead of burning themselves to recover, leaving them succeptible to a pump-fake and drive or wearing themselves out and exposing offensive rebound opportunities for the Mavericks, they're simply able to cover ground and be everywhere they need on the perimeter. This isn't possible with another personnel set. You need the athleticism of LeBron James and Dwyane Wade to pull it off.


Haslem hedges hard to cut off Barea's drive off the pick and roll. Mike Miller swings to recover on Dirk Nowitzki, leaving his man Jason Terry open. This should leave the wing "swing" player, Jason Terry, open. Instead, not only has James recovered from the low post to run Terry off, he's anticipated the pass and is already there. Terry instinctively swings the pass to the corner man Stojakovic. Peja should have a clear shot, but Bosh with all that length runs off the corner 3-pointer. Stojakovic does the right thing, pump fakes and drives, but Miller has now come over to cover for him. The result is a desperate pass to Terry who has to fling up an off-balance contested 3-pointer at the buzzer. Turnover. 

It's a ton of work, but as Miller described it Wednesay, "It's what you've got to do." 

Playing "on a string" is one of those terms that the Heat players' ears perk up immediately at. It connects with them at a very specific level, and you can tell they believe in the concepts. Udonis Haslem received the most praise for his work on Dirk Nowitzki but the morning after the Heat held Dirk Nowitzki to just 7-18 shooting, Haslem brought up the string himself, unprompted. 

"Five guys on a string. That's how it's done. It's not me shutting Dirk down. I'm able to rely on five guys working together." 

When asked what made that strategy work so well for the Heat, Haslem was short and to the point. "Trust," he said.

That's how the Heat kept the Mavericks' perimeter attack under wraps, even if their percentage was decent. But to do so the Heat have to first stop the easy stuff. And that's where they really excelled in Game 1. 

Point of Attack

Shooting at the rim's supposed to be easy. I mean, it is at the rim. But in Game 1, the Heat held the Mavericks to just 44.5 percent at the rim. That's about as strong as your defense will get.  It's that kind of identity that Chris Bosh says defines the Heat at this point.

"Just being us," Bosh said. "We know that they have great finishers. Dirks' going to be in there, J.J.'s definitely going to be in there. We want to use our athleticism and try and challenge guys at the rim."

So is it a matter of attacking the shot or maintaining position? I know this is going to shock you, but Joel Anthony says it's both. 

"You've got to do both. You have to get there," Anthony said with a sense of dedication to his craft," get in front of them, and when they shoot you have to challenge."

For Udonis Haslem, who doesn't have the raw size of most defensive bigs, it's more of a mental approach. "Make everything tough. Don't let anything be easy. We did a pretty decent job of keeping them out of the paint. We have to focus on that because when they do get in the paint they can kick it out to their great shooters and those guys can knock it down with the best of them." 

There's that respect again. It's important for the Heat. The more they're concerned with the Mavericks' ability to get loose, the better job they'll do in keeping the intensity of Game 1 defensively. Which is what they'll need to win another three and bring the trophy home.

Identity Complex

 The Heat won't stop talking defense. Even for an NBA team which guarantees an abundance of references toward that side of the ball, the Heat elected to make that their identity, and they've stuck with it. After all, it's gotten them to the Finals. Instead of creating some brilliant offensive scheme inside a year, they have a stellar defensive scheme, and let the offense out-talent the opponent. The Mavericks, after facing brie-like defense in the West, have discovered another level. It's up to the Mavericks to find an identity of their own to counter it.
Posted on: June 1, 2011 11:36 pm

Playoff Fix: Getting back to good for the Mavs

Posted by Royce Young

One Big Thing: Surely, surely, Dallas won't shoot that way again. Not once this postseason have the Mavs missed open looks like they did in Game 1 of the NBA Finals. Did Miami's defense have something to do with it? Of course. The way the Heat closed out on shooters was pretty much unreal. But the clean shots Dallas had -- just hard to see them coming up empty like that again.

One thing that absolutely can't happen again in Game 2 if Dallas wants a prayer: Miami's bench can't outscore the Mavs' second unit. Period. Not by 10 points, not by five points, heck not by even a single point. That's somewhere Dallas has to win.

The X-Factor: Dirk's finger. I realize he's pretty much entirely fine. He knocked a finger on his off-hand out of place. It probably won't affect him. But Dirk has to be at his best during this game. There can't be anything like he can't go left or finish well. There can't be anything about him having issues catching a pass. There really isn't any room for error for him. The finger is a minor thing because it likely won't affect anything, but it's a legit injury. And something to keep an eye on.

The Adjustment: Miami pulled out some tricks in Game 1 sticking LeBron on Jason Terry and doubling Dirk on any baseline catch. How does Dallas counter? Rick Carlisle was a bit coy in his Wednesday presser, but obviously the Mavs have been busting their brains on how to free up Terry if LeBron covers him again. J.J. Barea actually had his way in Game 1 doing his thing, but he missed his shots. Terry did the same in the second half in some parts.

The Mavs need clean looks and space to execute their offense well. Miami didn't give them too many of those holes in Game 1. If LeBron covers Terry again, Carlisle might have to get creative with his rotation and find a matchup that forces Erik Spoelstra to re-think things. Because the Mavs need Terry's offense.

The Sticking Point: Here's what I took from Game 1 though: Miami pretty much did their thing. LeBron was very good. Chris Bosh played well. Dwyane Wade was decent but had a good final 10 minutes. And Miami's bench gave them 27 big points. The defense was good, they rebounded like crazy and hit a bunch of tough 3s. But Dallas, it never felt like they played all that well.

What does that say? You can either lean toward that being good news for the Mavs, or point at that being bad news because the Heat are unlike any team they've seen. Miami won because of the offensive glass and because Dallas missed shots. Will that hold up again?
Posted on: June 1, 2011 5:58 pm
Edited on: June 1, 2011 6:20 pm

NBA Finals: Off-day notebook

Posted by Royce Young

MIAMI -- Some notes from the Mavs and Heat's off-day before Game 2 Thursday night:

Everyone, let's all freak out about a finger. Almost every question lobbed at Dirk on Wednesday somehow included something about his left middle finger.

Dirk tore a tendon in it in Game 1 of The Finals, but with it being on his off-hand, he repeatedly said, "I'm fine."

Still though... is he?

"I don't think it's going to be necessarily bothering me on the shot," Dirk said. "It's going to be the other stuff -- dribbling, passing, catching, swiping down, stuff like that. I think it will be OK."

Dirk said he was going to "experiment" with it a bit during practice Wednesday, trying out different splits, tapes and other things. He'll almost assuredly be fine because as Dirk said, he's played through injuries before in his 13 years. But he does like to go left, he does like to finish with the left hand. So there's a decent reason to wonder.

Jason Terry though, isn't.

"No, it didn't affect him," he said. "I seen when it happened. He swiped down. It was his left hand. He don't use that anyway."

Surprise! LeBron's guarding you. One wrinkle the Heat busted out in Game 1 was using LeBron James on Terry for most of the second half. Terry scored 12 points in the first half, but went scoreless in the second. The move by Miami to use LeBron on Terry wasn't something that Terry doesn't ever remember seeing.

"It was a big adjustment, something we weren't prepared for," he said. "We seen it, we made our adjustment and we'll be prepared for Game 2."

What that adjustment is, we'll have to see. Maybe Dallas tries to go bigger to force LeBron off Terry onto a bigger player. Maybe Terry will decoy himself. Or maybe it's a secret.

"We're just going to be a lot more active," Terry said. "Looking for opportunities in transition. And other than that, stand in the corner and let him guard me. I don't want to give all my secrets away."

Said Rick Carlisle: "They're paying [Terry] a very high compliment by putting their best defensive player on him. And I think that's something that tells you how important they feel Jet is to us."

The Mavs chalked it all up to just poor shooting after the game. Carlisle's right though -- Terry is very important. He was the top spark on the NBA's best scoring bench during the regular season but in Game 1, only put up 17 points.

"We've looked at it, we'll do some things that we think can help us," Carlisle said.

At least he's not using war analogies. Carlisle put it simply: "They won the line of scrimmage is really what it came down to. They were more physical inside."

What he's referring to is the fact Miami pulled in 16 offensive rebounds and used that to attempt 13 more shots. The Heat only shot 38.8 percent to Dallas's 37.3, but they had six more makes from the field. That's the difference.

"When I talk about them winning the line of scrimmage, that's really what it's about," Carlisle said. "The analogy of football is accurate in that the line of scrimmage, the guys that hit first and hit most aggressively with the most force are going to have the most success. And they did it better than we did last night."

So if I understand this right coach, you want Shawn Marion to tackle Mike Bibby in Game 2? Or did I misunderstand?

Fan up, lay off. Heat fans have taken quite a bit of guff over the season for showing up late, not selling out and not being as involved as people seem to think they should be. Reality is, the Heat filled home games at a 100.9 percent capacity and were fifth overall in the league in total attendance.

So Wade tried to stick up for his white-wearing mob.

"Obviously our fans have been great," he said. "Our fans are like our bench; they get a lot of flack about what they're not and what they don't do. But they're pretty good."
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com