Is it me, or does the Miami Heat 1-0 lead over the Dallas Mavericks in the 2011 NBA Finals seem more like a 3-0 lead with their win last night? I don’t know exactly why, but it just has that feeling to me that these next four games (I have Miami winning in five) are simply a formality at this point. After watching Game 1 last night, it is very clear who the better team in this series is, and the fact that this is going to be the worst Miami Heat team for the next 5 years or so is pretty frightening when you think about it.
But you never know, this is sports and I know its cliché but anything can happen… I suppose. In 2008, the New York Giants defeated the odds against the unstoppable/ undefeated Patriots in the Super Bowl. The Boston Red Sox came back from being down 0-3 to beat the Yankees in the 2004 ALCS. Buster Douglas knocked out Mike Tyson, George Mason made it to the Final Four, the list goes on and on. So, it’s possible. The Mavericks just have to be sure to make the right adjustments. Here are four key adjustments they can make to come back and win this series.
Lower the rim
Since it is pretty apparent that the Dallas Mavericks cannot match the athleticism of the Miami Heat, they can at least give the illusion that they can come close to matching it. Lowering the rim could prove to be a helpful tactic for the Mavs. I’m not talking about anything drastic here. I am thinking maybe just about ooh, lets say ¼ of an inch or so. They can just have it done to where it’s not noticeable but could prove to be very effective. There were a couple of instances involving two Mavericks players (more specifically Jason Terry and Brendan Haywood) in Game 1 that this suggestion would have been of great benefit. Ok, I am willing to give Jason Terry a little bit of a pass here since his missed dunk attempt resulted in a foul. But what in the world was he thinking trying to dunk over 6’8’ Lebron James in the first place? Had the rim been just a couple of centimeters lower, it would have been (using my Marv Albert voice) “a spectacular move” and could have ignited the entire Dallas team. Instead, Terry got stuffed at the rim, luckily fouled, and even more luckily, walked away without a serious injury after the nasty fall he took as a result of his missed attempt.
Brendan Haywood on the other hand gets no such pass on his botched dunk. The 7-foot center could not convert his dunk attempt just inches away from the basket. Unlike Terry, he did not have anyone challenging him. Apparently he just lost concentration for a split second. Hey, it happens to the best of us. But again, if only the rim would have been a few centimeters shorter…
Find a hot tub time machine
The plan is very simple. ‘Kidd-nap’ (pun intended) Jason Kidd, find a time machine, go back about 8 years and exchange the old Jason Kidd for the younger one bringing the younger Kidd back home to finish out the series. It seems the older Jason Kidd is content on staying out in the perimeter and shooting threes. It’s one of the oldest sayings in basketball: The team that attacks the rim more will win the game. This holds true even up to this level of basketball. The Heat definitely have more drivers and slashers on their squad, which is why I ultimately think they will win this series pretty easily. You simply cannot rely on outside shooting ability to win you games. (Hello Orlando Magic?). The Mavericks must be more aggressive going to the basket. This is exactly what old Jason Kidd would provide.
Jason Kidd gets lost sometimes, I think, in the discussion of greatest point guards of all time. I think that has mostly to do with the fact that he is actually still playing and it is hard to separate what we see now versus what we have seen from that player back in the day. What we saw with Jason Kidd was greatness:
Unless Mike Bibby is wearing a Sacramento Kings #10 jersey, then it’s ok to let him shoot from the outside. I would almost go as far as to give him the Rondo treatment. I know he will eventually hit some shots, but I think I’ll take my chances and play the odds against Bibby going off and scoring 30 points. What I’m trying to say here is it’s just not going to happen. Besides, 30 points from Mike Bibby is somehow of less value than 30 points from Lebron, Wade, or Bosh. I don’t exactly know why that is, I just know that it is. Trust me on this. I know this may sound strange, but the Mavs need to pay more attention to Lebron James and Dwayne Wade. Now when I say more, I mean even more than they already are. They should completely ignore Bibby, and even players like Udonis Haslem and Joel Anthony on the offensive end. Focus even more on the ‘Big 3’. If the Heat end up winning the championship, let it be because of the likes of Bibby, Haslem, and Anthony. Chances are, someone will start forcing shots or some of the lesser stars will start passing on shots they shouldn’t which would create total confusion and chaos on the offensive end for Miami. C’mon now, it’s not THAT crazy of an idea!
Just shoot better
All joking aside, the only way the Mavericks even have a shot at winning this series is if they do not repeat the poor shooting night they had in Game 1. More specifically, they need Peja, Jason Terry, and J.J. Barea to not shoot a combined 4-21 from the field. The Mavericks are known this year for their depth and it’s time for them to step up and show everyone why. They simply cannot repeat that shooting performance period. Also, I believe Dirk Nowitzki must take more than 18 shots. This is the time to demand the ball and shoot your team to victory. Big time players excel on this type of stage. The window is closing fast on Dirk and this could be his best shot at the title. I say, just let it fly.