Here's what I thought was important in Game 1 with an assist (as always) from the numbers:
Chalmers and three pointers in general: He hit all three against the zone and the Heat did a decent job of taking advantage of the unguarded corner spot. He helped the Heat to stay close at that point with scoring 9 of the last 16 points in the half.
The Heat overpowered the Mavs in two areas that were projected to be Mavs territory: Points off Three Point Shots (33-27) and Bench Production (27-17). That can't happen. With the rebounding these are three areas in which the Mavs have to get better to have any shot in the series. The good news is: They probably will. The bench went 4-22 and the Heat made the third most threes in a single game in this years playoffs. That won't continue.
Bosh was only 3-7 at the rim and 0-6 from 3-9 feed. I think that's a plus for the Mavs interior defense. Heat only finished 57% at the rim. Their average is 67%. They also had 8 blocks, so the Heat weren't just missing chippies.
- Mavs lost
- The opportunities for the Mavs to separate themselves a little bit from the Heat on the scoreboard will be rare in this series and they missed two of them in the first game. They went on a little 13-5 run at the end of the second quarter and with 0:38 it was 44-40 and you could sense that there's a chance to carry momentum into the half. Didn't happen though. Mario Chalmers hit a corner three and Dirk lost the ball on Dallas last possession of the half. They easily could have gone into the half trailing because the Heat had about five seconds left for their last shot. This was annoying because the Mavs played terrible defense on the Chalmers three and he had already made two of them at that corner spots. So the Mavs should have figured it out by that time. There was a real chance to go into the half leading 4 or 6 instead of one.
- Second missed opportunity was at the start of the third. The Mavs went on a 7-0 run and led 51-43, but the Heat pulled within 4 quickly after a timeout and a turnover by Jason Kidd. So the game kept being close. Rick Carlisle turned to Barea after the timeout but he wasn't able to provide anything. Still he played for 5 full minutes before Jason Terry subbed in. You shouldn't blame the coach though. He certainly had something in mind but it seemed like it wasn't working. And here's also where the bad finish in the first half comes into play. With the 4 or 6 point lead at the half they would have stretched the lead to 11 or 13. That's not necessarily game changing but surely could have helped to prevent going into the fourth trailing by 4.
On the other side Dirk Nowitzki and Jose Barea shot 3-9 at the rim and they did miss some easy ones. Of the 6 misses 4 were just blown and 2 were blocked. On a night where offense was hard to come by you got to make these shots.
Brendan Haywood is now 13-20 from the line over the past three games.
Peja Stojakovic is now 5-24 from deep over the Thunder series and last nights Game 1. If that continues there is no way not to rotate Corey Brewer in.
The Mavs won't win the matchup at the SG or SF spot. But they should use their advantage at the other positions. Kidd can post up Bibby and use Chandler and Haywood in the post. In a perfect world Spoelstra might be forced to use Dampier a little bit.
It's a small sample size and I am hesitant to overreact to one single game, but the starting unit got outscored by 2 with a decent Defensive Efficiency (DefEff: 82.67 - OffEff: 70.86) and the closing unit outscored the Heat by 2 with a huge efficiency on offense (OffEff: 147.61 - DefEff: 138.67). While this doesn't seem too dramatic it meets the expectations going into the series: The starting unit can't score enough to win any games and the closing unit can't defend enough to win any games in this series. And that is a problem because these two lineups have been on the court for nearly 50% of the possessions.
Which leads us to Stevenson and an unsolvable dilemma. With Stevenson on the court Dwayne Wade shot 38% and LeBron James 40%. With him on the bench Wade shot 55% and James 67%. But you can't play Stevenson more than 14 minutes a game to be honest because than you probably won't score enough to win. That's where it hurts the most that Caron Butler isn't available because he could contribute on both ends of the floor.
Dirk again scored 10 in the final quarter. He leads the playoffs with 9.73 points per 4th Quarter.
Right now the Mavericks have to make more adjustments than the Heat and I think we'll see a different game tomorrow.