DALLAS, TX - MAY 25: Jason Terry #31 of the Dallas Mavericks moves the ball down court as Jose Juan Barea #11 celebrates as the the Mavericks defeat the the Oklahoma City Thunder 100-96 in Game Five of the Western Conference Finals during the 2011 NBA Playoffs at American Airlines Center on May 25, 2011 in Dallas, Texas. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)
Its no secret: the Mavericks bench was pitiful Tuesday night. On some teams, that would hardly be news, but for the Mavericks, a team that has capitalized on their scoring depth and solid role players following their starting wave, it lost Game 1.
For Game 2 and beyond, the Mavericks bench must get back to at least some semblance of their full potency. Four field goals on twenty-two attempts simply cannot suffice, especially considering just a couple weeks ago this same bench scored 86 points in a single game to close out the Lakers.
So how is the bench going to produce, especially against a tremendous Miami Heat defense? Well, its doubtful they will be scoring 86 again, but here's a few ways for each player to regain his touch and utilize his abilities best.
I'm starting with the easiest. Its simply, really: keep taking the same looks he was taking. Its a different game, and he just needs to have different results. The shooter he is, hopefully this won't be a problem.
The athletic ability of the Heat perimeter players do play a factor in contested and altering a shot, though. Peja's reputation as a shooter make his pump fakes even more effective, and so on the harder close outs Peja should look to get his defender in the air and either draw the foul or step in and take the 20 footer. One thing he should not do is try to create too much off the dribble. Against some teams, Peja can lumber down the lane and score occasionally, but the Heat's defense recovers too quickly. If a shot, either catch and shoot or after a fake, does not become available, Peja's role is to keep the ball moving.
Barea's one-for-eight night was a big problem for the Mavericks, mainly because he was being given good looks. Several layups he took were makeable, and he was able to find space for a jump shot even just 15 feet away from the basket. Unfortunately, except for one defensive breakdown resulting in a wide open layup, Barea never could find rhythm.
To produce effectively and efficiently, Barea needs to slow down, relax a little bit, and play his game. With the shots he took, he easily could have and, if you ask him, should have shot four- or five-of-eight from the floor. If the Miami defense gives him similar looks, then, like Peja, he just needs to capitalize. Barea made some nice cross court passes and for the most part was not settling for jumpers; his quality looks at the basket just didn't go down.
Barea also needs try to utilize his most effective weapon off the pick and roll he loves to run: Dirk Nowitzki. Many of Barea's quality looks came from Miami paying extra attention (as they should) to Dirk, and he'd be hurting the team by not taking the open shot or penetrating. But when this doesn't happen, Barea should be specifically looking to get Dirk the ball, something that didn't seem to be a priority for him in Game 1. In a way, getting the ball to Nowitzki when he rolls or pops is one of the highest percentage "shots" JJB can take.
Getting the JET in the air is may be more of a struggle. When Spoelstra opted to put LeBron James on Terry in the 2nd half, production simply ceased. JET had scored an active twelve points in the first half, headed by three triples, but LeBron totally shut him down. Terry did not score in the second half.
So let's analyze Terry in two parts. First, let's recognize that LeBron James will not guard him at all times. During these stretches, Terry simply must play his game. We all know what that is: catch and shoot threes, pick and pop with Dirk, and hopefully hard aggressive drives to the basket, either finishing or getting a foul call. He showed this in his shoulda-woulda-coulda dunk attempt (a play where he was actually being defended by LeBron) that he probably is still mad about not finishing.
Down the stretch, though, the Mavericks will need Jason Terry's scoring, if only to help alleviate some of the defensive pressure on Dirk. If Spoelstra elects to go with James on him again, then perhaps the best way for Terry to get free is to run screens for him. James is young, athletic, and obviously has plenty of energy. However, with as much as he is asked to do on each end, making him fight through two or three screens each trip down the floor might decrease his defensive effort, if only slightly. Terry can take advantage of this with room on short baseline jumpers. The key here is that Terry does NOT have to resort to pull-up twenty-two footers as the only chance to create offense.
This is Jason Terry, though. Ultimately, its just a matter of whether his jumper is falling or not. He's gone a long ways towards breaking his reputation as a player who does not show up in the postseason with his play in earlier series; however, he has to find a way to play big and help ease the load Dirk has been saddled with if he doesn't want all that progress to return right back where it started from. In the midst of seemingly hundreds of different factors effecting this series, Jason Terry showing up or not might just be the most important one.