Tag:Brendan Haywood
Posted on: June 1, 2011 2:10 am
Edited on: June 1, 2011 3:17 am
 

NBA Finals Heat vs. Mavs: What do you do?

Posted by Matt Moore



MIAMI -- Really, when you look at it, what are you going to do?

The Miami Heat busted open the Mavericks' zone. The Mavs' bench was a no-show. The Heat got production from their role players. Chris Bosh played well. And yet the Mavericks were right there, down four going into the final frame. And it really wasn't their defense that let them down. Miami's offense was just too good.

Dywane Wade after the game talked about momentum and how he "knew what (LeBron) was going to do" on a crucial pull-up 3-pointer to end the third. LeBron James talked about rhythm, and how when he saw Wade dribbling for a pull-up 3-pointer and that fell he knew Wade was "feeling good." It's all feel and instinct and trust in these two. It's faith. Faith in one another to make exceptional play after exceptional play down the stretch. You know, the kinds of plays Miami had failed to make time and time again this season, until the postseason. But James says they always knew the day was coming when they would do... this. 

"We have guys that have closed out games before. We just had to figure out how to do it together."

Guess what? They figured it out. And now there is nothing more terrifying late in the game than James or Wade screaming down the floor with the ball while the other sprints to the perimeter. James' 3-pointer has always been the Achilles' heel. He went to it time and time again, far too often. But instead of it being a hindrance, it has become a boon, as the Heat continuously bomb from long range. As a comparison, the Heat's effective field goal percentage (factoring the impact of 3-pointers) was 45.6 percent, a terrible mark that reflects a rough shooting night all around. In the fourth quarter, they were over 52 percent. That's how you attack a Dallas defense sending multiple defenders. That's how you let your star players make star plays.

That's how you close out Game 1.

There will be talk of rebounding, and defense, and tactics, and bench play. But this game came down to Dwyane Wade and LeBron James being the best two players on the floor, two of the best in the NBA, and doing things only they can. Pull-up, fadeaway, ice-cold dagger 3-pointers with the clock winding down and a defender right in their face? How do you stop that if they're hitting? The answer is you don't. The Mavericks found that out the hard way in Game 1. Now the pressure's on them to find a more consistent solution in Game 2 beyond some of the suggestions heard at the AA Arena Tuesday night: prayer, the kitchen sink, and turning the lights off before the Heat shoot them out in the fourth.
Posted on: June 1, 2011 1:46 am
Edited on: June 1, 2011 5:58 am
 

On the scene at the Finals: A good night in Miami



Posted by Royce Young

MIAMI -- The Heat opened the 2011 NBA Finals with a solid 92-84 win over the Mavericks. LeBron James was terrific, Dwyane Wade hit some big shots and the Heat's defense pretty much suffocated the Mavericks for 48 minutes. A lot of other stuff happened, so here are some notes on the sights and sounds of Game 1.
  • The word before the game was that it wasn't sold out up until about 30 minutes before the tip. That just fuels the "Heat fans are bad!" story, but they were loud and into the game from the tip. I guess that's to be expected since, you know, this is the NBA Finals and all, though. Still, I don't think the rap they get is entirely fair. They stood, they cheered and they were loud in spurts. Not the greatest crowd ever, but in terms of atmosphere, it was good.
  • David Stern held his annual pregame press conference right before tip off of Game 1. And it was nearly interrupted by a screaming man on a microphone on the court and then cheerleaders running by the room yelling. Stern, as you might expect, pressed through, unfazed. I bet he didn't even hear the outside noise.
  • Stern, pregame talking about looming CBA negotiations: "I told the players and owners to bring their negotiating talents to South Beach." Har har, Commish.
  • The Heat are part of the bandwagon of having seemingly unlikely people dance to music on the court. Their catch? The elderly. The Heat deployed a group of older men and women to shake their things on the court during a timeout. This is a fad that's popular in a lot of cities, but a fad that I wouldn't mind being written out of the NBA in the new CBA.
  • Kind of intriguing that DeShawn Stevenson started the game on LeBron instead of Shawn Marion. With their past history, maybe it was Rick Carlisle trying to play some mind games? 
  • Did you know: The winner of Game 1 has won the Finals 73.4 percent of the time, including 10 of the past 12 seasons. One of those seasons that wasn't true of course was in 2006 were the Mavs took the first TWO from Miami.
  • J.J. Barea defended LeBron one-on-one in the first quarter. Result? LeBron, miss. I think we found our stopper, people.
  • It's Game 1 of the NBA Finals. Crazy atmosphere, lots of excitement, tons of media in town observing everything that happens in your arena. So surely a nifty halftime show is in order, right? Nope. The Heat pretty much had a promotional video for some Gloria Estafan music video that's coming out soon as the halftime entertainment. Red Panda, it was not. 
  • Juwan Howard played a grand total of seven minutes and 37 seconds and didn't really impact the game much at all. But when he went to the line late in the third quarter, a section of Heat fans chanted "M-V-P! M-V-P!" as he shot. Is this some kind of inside joke I'm missing?
  • Chris Bosh screwed us out of an awesome LeBron alley-oop in the third quarter. That's just so Chris Bosh.
  • The Heat have won 10 straight home playoff games. Impressive.
  • Jimmy Buffet was shown on the big screen and got a huge cheer. That was sort of random to me. Also courtside, but not shown: Serena Williams.
  • Michael McDonald formerly of The Doobie Brothers sang the National Anthem and let me tell you, it was rousing.
  • Miami's public address guy isn't my favorite. He basically just made noises for two hours.
  • The visiting locker room in Miami is pretty much the smallest thing ever. It's definitely not suited for hundreds of media members trying to talk to giant men.
Game 2 is Thursday night in Miami.


Notes from Matt Moore

Heat have big room to dress, where no one dresses

The Heat locker room was a ghost town before the game. It is the nicest locker room I've been in, with a giant championship rug that says "Champions" on it (most of the place is a shrine to the 2006 team), in a big oval shape. It kind of reminds you of the grav-a-tron ride from the carnival, except with more Juwan Howard.

Anyway, pregame, almost no one from the Heat was available. Players entered just long enough to get dressed to the bare minimum, then bolted for the trainer's room. I'd love to tell you the attitude or sense of the locker room, but no one was in there except beat writers laughing at the Heat waiting everyone out and confused Chinese media.  

Casually torn

Dirk Nowitzki just casually dropped the fact that he's got a torn tendon in his finger and went on answering questions, dismissing it completely. LeBron James noted it's not his shooting hand, so he'll be fine, "he'll be Dirk." It's crazy how accepting both teams were of the injury. If you tore a tendon in your left hand, you'd probably miss a day or two, right?

You could tell Miami players genuinely were not comforted by the injury to Dirk. They know he can score one-handed, or no-handed. 

The King doesn't need help

A reporter asked postgame if Wade or Haslem talked to James about playing in a game of this magnitude, despite James having been in the Finals in 2007. James replied they had not, that it had been "left unsaid." Mostly because I'm pretty sure James would have killed anyone who tried to tell him such things with his bare hands. 

James also sheepishly joked that Wade had come up to him postgame and congratulated him on his first Finals win. You can tell James was embarrassed by the gap between the two captains, and he was glad to have regained that measure of respect. James really has won one of the biggest games of his life. Now he just needs to win three more.

Don't overreact

Remember Chicago destorying Miami in the fourth quarter of Game 1? Remember that before you start jumping on or off bandwagons. This series is going to be close, it's going to be nasty, it's going to be intense, and it's going to come down to a number of plays. The key will be adjustments. Rick Carlisle spoke a lot before Game 1 about playing "their game." The Mavs will say they did not, with the rebounding disadvantage. But in a lot of ways the Mavericks got what they wanted. They just couldn't convert. that's a bad sign for Dallas. Adjustments need to be made.  

I do not feel the rhythm of the night.

Gloria Estefan had a video play about the making of her music video at halftime, followed by the music video. That's right. The entirety of halftime was Gloria Estefan. That's twenty minutes of my life I'm never getting back.

Posted on: June 1, 2011 1:40 am
Edited on: June 1, 2011 5:47 am
 

NBA Finals Heat vs. Mavericks: Zone = Busted

Heat bench shows up to bust the zone and allow the Heat's superstars to play like only they can. 

Posted by Matt Moore



MIAMI -- How do you bust a zone? You can knock down perimeter shots, or you can attack over it. The Heat did a little bit of both in Game 1. Mario Chalmers poured in 10 huge points off the bench. Eight of those points came against the Dallas zone. Chalmers drove early in the second to draw a shooting foul, then nailed two huge 3-pointers. That kind of attack is what turns a zone defense inside out and renders it torn in half. After the game, Chalmers made it clear the Heat knew they were going to face that zone going in.
 
"They're going to play a lot of zone, that's who they are. When we're hitting shots like that, we're hard team to stop. And tonight we were able to do that. " 

Mike Miller threw in one of his two 3-pointers against the zone, and it was effectively busted. The Mavericks would only play it twice more in the second half, where the Heat were able to turn the game based on the incredible raw athletic talent of LeBron James and Dwyane Wade

But it wasn't just the perimeter attack that brought the Mavs' zone down. Chris Bosh was a willing passer from the high post and LeBronmario-chalmers-finals James was his usual self ... an all-around threat. The result was a series of attacks over the zone's defense right under the basket, including what may have been the dagger, a Udonis Haslem and-one finish. The lead had been cut to three with six minutes to go before Haslem's bucket, one of those two zone attempts the Mavericks threw out. The Mavs gambled with the zone. The gamble failed. 

The zone wasn't completely useless, but the Heat scored 20 points on 18 possessions against the zone. But more importantly, it allowed the Heat to have the Mavs in man defense down the stretch, and to let their superstars play. Chalmers said he had no doubt the two superstars were going to score. 

"I'm not surprised by what they do. They're superstars. When a superstar gets going, they're hard to stop."

After the game, Chalmers spoke of the momentum of the perimeter shots he hit, while James talked about the rhythm. The Mavs wound up asking the same thing the Bulls and Celtics asked before them when faced with the onslaught of James and Wade down the stretch. If the team is going to bust the zone and get back to their strength, how do you defend that? 

"What are you going to do?"

Posted on: June 1, 2011 1:16 am
Edited on: June 1, 2011 3:16 am
 

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

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.
Posted on: June 1, 2011 1:00 am
Edited on: June 1, 2011 1:36 am
 

Dwyane Wade alley-oop to LeBron James video

Dwyane Wade threw an alley oop to LeBron James to clinch a Game 1 win for the Miami Heat over the Dallas Mavericks in the NBA Finals. Posted by Ben Golliver.

When Chicago Bulls center Joakim Noah called the Miami Heat "Hollywood as hell" this is what he meant.

The Heat led the Dallas Mavericks 89-79 with less than a minute to go in Game 1 of the NBA Finals and had possession of the ball. Most teams would simply wind the clock all the way down and put up a contested jumper before the buzzer, playing conservatively and using the clock with a double digit lead. Not the Heat.

With the shot clock near 10 seconds, Heat guard Dwyane Wade used a high screen and roll to his right hand. As the Mavericks defense shaded to the strong side to spy him, Heat forward LeBron James snuck in front the weakside corner by cutting hard on the baseline. As Mavericks center Tyson Chandler rotated to Wade and Mavericks guard Jason Terry got caught up marking Heat forward Chris Bosh in the paint, Wade lofted a picture-perfect alley-oop to James, who caught it and flushed it with two hands.

The play symbolized the Heat's biggest match-up advantage -- athleticism on the perimeter -- and it also showcased how far they've come from a late-game execution standpoint. The high-flying connection helped push Miami to a 92-84 victory on Tuesday night.

Here's a look at video of Dwyane Wade's alley-oop to LeBron James in the fourth quarter.


Posted on: June 1, 2011 12:57 am
Edited on: June 1, 2011 1:12 am
 

Dirk tears tendon in his finger, will wear splint

Posted by Royce Young

MIAMI -- Dirk Nowitzki revealed after the game that he tore a tendon in his left middle finger and will likely wear a splint for the remainder of the playoffs. X-rays on the finger however, were negative.

The injury happened when he stripped the ball from Chris Bosh. Dirk said following the injury, he couldn't straighten his finger.

"Well it was just a freaky play, "Nowitzki said. "Bosh got a bounce pass and I stepped in. I thought I stripped him clean and then I kind of looked down and I couldn't straighten my finger out anymore.

"I guess it will be all right. I have to wear a split probably for the rest of the playoffs, for a couple of weeks. But it will be all right. It's on my left hand, so I'll be all right for Thursday."

The Mavericks dropped Game 1 to the Heat 92-84 as Dirk struggled shooting the ball at his normally high percentage. Nowitzki went just 7-18 from the field and scored 27 points. But he never really was able to unleash his typically deadly mid-range game. Part of that was a credit to the defense played on him by Udonis Haslem and Chris Bosh. And part of it was simply that Dirk wasn't able to get going.

Dirk was just 3-8 on jumpers for the game and only hit two shots outside of 15 feet. Though the injury likely didn't affect him really, I'm sure tearing a tendon in a finger -- even if it's an off-hand -- doesn't help things. Will it be a factor going forward? Players play through injuries all the time. Nobody has really slowed Dirk down all that much this postseason, so we'll see what kind of shot a torn tendon gives him.

LeBron isn't buying any kind of effect.

"Dirk is right handed," he said. "He's still going to make shots. He's still going to be great."
Posted on: May 31, 2011 10:28 pm
 

NBA Finals Game 1 at Half: Nerves and shots



Posted by Matt Moore

A shaky start to the NBA Finals with both teams trying to feel one another out. Here are notes from the first half:

  • The Mavericks had zero points in the paint in the first quarter, ten in the second. Half of them came during a lineup featuring Haslem and Joel Anthony. Chris Bosh has been huge in this game, with seven boards. Without him, the Mavs hit the glass and converted at the rim, with Jason Kidd finding Tyson Chandler on a brilliant alley-oop. 
  • LeBron James playing aggressively, intensely, and efficiently. But the Mavericks are sending doubles at him constantly. James has taken the role of distributor, but Wade hasn't been able to get free to get opportunities. 
  • The zone has been periodic  for the Mavericks, but pretty effective when it works. The Heat did nail six 3-pointers in the first half, though, with Mario Chalmers stepping up huge. 
  • Jose Juan Barea on James, James shot 0-2. 
  • Dwyane Wade continues to play very badly to start games, going 3-10 for seven points with three turnovers. 
  • The Mavs ran several sets with Nowitzki on the perimeter, either as a drive and kick target or working the two-man game with Kidd posting Chalmers or Bibby. That's right, the seven foot guy was the perimeter passer on the two man game. 
  • Gloria Estefan's video was the halftime entertainment. Many ears were lost. Not a live performance. A video.
  • The Heat would be down more if it wasn't for excellent close-outs by Miami on the weak-side rotation on the perimeter. The Heat don't commit to the ball till it's gone on the side, they jump to anticipate the rotation. It's working so far, the Mavs havent' frozen the ball to shoot yet. 
Posted on: May 31, 2011 5:18 pm
 

NBA Finals Heat vs.Mavericks: A question of speed

Posted by Matt Moore

J.J. Barea knows LeBron James shut down the MVP Derrick Rose. J.J. Barea knows LeBron James is stronger. J.J. Barea knows LeBron James has a bigger wingspan, a bigger frame, a bigger defensive skillset, and every physical attribute in the book outside of raw speed defensively. 

J.J. Barea still thinks he can get around LeBron James. 

"He's taller and stronger, but I still think I can get by him," Barea said Tuesday before Game 1. 

The diminutive Mavs bench spark plug is not lacking for confidence in speed, nor should he. He's been torching defenders with his abilty to get to the rim all season. When the defense does adjust, Barea  loops under the basket. Barea's made a name for himself by being fearless and aggressive and said he has no plans to change that. 

"I'm attacking. I'm going to stay aggressive. I bring a lot of energy on both ends, and we'll see what happens." 

But with LeBron guarding him? With that wingspan?

"I think Westbrook and LeBron are pretty similar. LeBron's stronger, but we'll see what happens." 

That kind of confidence comes with success, and Barea's had a lot of it, and it's been predicated on speed. The Mavericks, though, aren't a barnburner, up-and-down squad, not even in the playoffs. They're just highly efficient. In this series, however, they may wind up having to try and pick up the tempo a bit more. 

The Mavericks were 20th in pace this season, at an estimated 93.1 possesions per game. The Heat, funnily enough, were right behind them, 21st, at 92.9. And in the playoffs, where everything slows down, we've seen the same comparative trends. The Mavericks are ninth among all playoff teams at 86.6 possessions per game, while Miami is 12th at 86.2. What does those numbers mean? It means neither team has been running Seven Seconds or Less. It doesn't mean either team lacks ability on the break though. Both teams have the same attitude about fast breaks that Rick Carlisle described Tuesday morning. 

"Aggressive."

There's a gap between running for running's sake (most of those teams you'll find in the lottery or one-and-done in the first round, not naming any names), and being aggressive when the opportunity presents itself. Carlisle said that the same things which spark the Mavericks' break are what the Heat use as their core: defense and rebounding. It's those types of elements that allow for the break, to let Jason Kidd cut down the middle and find an open cutter or a shooter on the perimeter, and that lets Barea get to the basket behind a defense. It's also those things that give LeBron and Dwyane Wade highlight opportunities. And it's those opportunities that will likely have a huge impact in this series. 

Carlisle was particular before Game 1 of saying they weren't going to slow down or speed up the offense. "We're going to play our pace," the Mavericks coach said Tuesday morning. It's a generic quote meant to avoid any strategic leak of information, but it's also indicative of the Mavericks' confidence going into Tuesday night's Game 1. 

The Mavericks will be fast when they need to. They'll grind when they need to. And they'll hope that they can make more plays. Half-court, full-court, defensively, this is going to be a series about speed. Whoever gets to the spot first, wins. 

We know one thing, though. Barea thinks it'll be him, no matter who's guarding him, even if it's LeBron James.

Read more: 2011 NBA Finals | Miami Heat | Dallas Mavericks
 
 
 
 
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