Friday, June 10, 2011

NBA Update: Shooting It Old School

So the aged Dallas Mavs finally got their three-point shooting going last night, hitting 13-of-19 from behind the stripe to down Miami 112-103. As in their other two wins, the Mavs dominated the game down the stretch. They ended this game on a 17-4 run; they ended Game 2 on a 22-5 run and Game 4 on a 21-9 run.

If you watch or listen to ESPN, you would think that all of Miami's problems result from the fact that LeBron James isn't scoring enough points in the fourth quarter. But Miami's real problem is that down the stretch, they do not have a functional half-court offense. It is simply painful to watch them mess around for 20 seconds and jack up a shot that has no chance of going in. The way Miami runs its offense, almost every key possession ends with a three-point shot, and LeBron just isn't a good-enough three-point shooter to score a lot of points in that situation.

Now Miami had no half-court offense against Chicago or Boston. But Boston's half-court offense never recovered from Rondo's injury, and Chicago also has no half-court offense. So Miami won those series by simply playing firm defense, collecting rebounds, and scoring just enough points to get by. But Dallas has Jason Kidd and Dirk Nowitzki -- and they know quite a bit about running plays in the half court. Almost every Dallas possession ends with a very good look at the basket, and last night they converted those looks.

So what happens now? The last two games are in Miami. If playing at home helps LeBron's three-point shooting and hurts Dallas's three-point shooting -- which it may -- then the Heat will probably prevail. On the other hand, if Dallas has one more good night from behind the line, then David Stern will have to give the trophy to Mark Cuban.