I'm not ready to overreact. The Mavs had a great chance to steal Game 1 last night and take control of the NBA Finals, but they simply didn't bring it. They come out tentative, and maybe somewhat intimidated, exactly what I didn't expect to see when I picked the Mavs to win in 5 games. While each of the Heat's big 3 put up a good, but not great, game, Shawn Marion was the lone player on the Mavs who I'd say had a good game. Combine that with the rebounding advantage (+10 for the Heat), which included 2 offensive rebounds in a backbreaking 4th quarter possession that ended with an And-1 from Udonis Mosslem. However, it was the 3rd quarter when the game really swung, with the Heat turning an 8 point deficit into a 4 point lead, proving too much for the Mavs to overcome in the 4th quarter.
Meanwhile, the Mavs have to get their rhythm back on offense. There are two explanations for their lack of rhythm last night (only truly on display for the first half of the 3rd quarter) - 1. They had a week off in between games and were simply out of sync, and rely on rhythm much more than the Heat, who run more isolations on offense (which is such bad basketball to watch, and is the reason why purists are sickened by the Heat winning it all). 2. The Heat defense really is that good. They are awfully quick on their rotations, and their double teams of Dirk were very effective last night. I guess it depends which side of the fence you're on, but we might know the true answer after Game 2.
Dirk is at his best when he is comfortable on the floor. He never truly looked comfortable last night. He missed a few bunnies in the first quarter, as well as some open shots that we've come to expect him to make in these NBA Playoffs. Without looking at the numbers (which weren't bad by any stretch), that felt like Dirk's worst game of these Playoffs (Portland games aside - too distant). Well, now comes the news of his injured middle finger on his non-shooting left hand (depressing). I'm more concerned about how this will affect the other aspects of his game aside from shooting - dribbling, rebounding, defense. The excuse is there now for his poor play, but in a weird way, I think this might ease some of the pressure on him and elevate his game. I don't even entirely understand why, but I know this man inside and out, and do believe this. Dirk has to be more aggressive in Game 2, either looking to score more, or force the double team early in the shot clock. The Mavs had too many bad shots in Game 1, a problem they've stayed away from these Playoffs.
A quick look at who's hot and who's not after Game 1:
- Chris Bosh - Best player on the court in the 1st half (somehow finished 5-18 FG though)
- Lebron James from 3 point range - His shot at the end of 3rd quarter was a dagger
- Shawn Marion - Mavs' best player in Game 1
- Mario Chalmers - Bang-a-ranged three 3's in the first half
- Branden Haywood - Force on the defensive end last night
- NBA And-1 calls - As many ticky-tack And-1's as I've seen in a game
- Tyson Chandler - Rebounding disadvantage falls on him (only had 4) - somebody remind him he's from Compton
- Peja Stojakovic - The worst player on the court last night - couldn't hit a 3, couldn't play D
- JJ Barea - My X-factor for the series was more of a non-factor (1-8 FG)
- Mike Bibby - I cheer whenever he shoots
- Commentators - Usually enjoy Van Gundy, but they were missing stuff left and right (Terry getting hacked on dunk attempt comes to mind). They were also wow'd by Lebron's jersey being the #1 seller in the NBA. OF COURSE IT IS! He changed teams this season, so it's an all new product, when compared to products that have been on the market for a number of years. Hearing people talk about this, ignorant to these facts, hurts my brain.
While the Mavs could've easily stolen Game 1 from the Heat and sent a message, it's simply not going to happen when your top 3 offensive options all have bad shooting nights (Dirk, Terry, Barea). They must come out ready to play in Game 2 though. The Heat tend to start slow and the Mavs have shown the propensity to come out swinging after a loss - raced out to a 20 point 1st half lead following Game 2 loss to the Thunder. To be a champion, you have to be able to overcome a loss. And if you can't, then you don't deserve it.
Every time the Mavs have been questioned so far these Playoffs, they have responded. Lets hope they got (atleast) one more in them.