Game One is now in the books, and it bore much of the usual unevenness that frequently accompanies a first game after a long layoff. Neither team looked competent offensively, so the game turned on defensive plays in the 4th quarter. If these games are going to be decided with defensive effort, then the Heat have the clear advantage. They are younger, more athletic, more physical, and can cover a greater amount of space than the Mavs. Dallas has to re-engineer its offense to outperform the Heat if they are going to stay competitive.
MMB does it's usual excellent job of grabbing the flavor of the game through quotes and screen caps. I imagine that the biggest facet of Game One is that the Heat are able to play the Mavs much more physical on the wings than either the Thunder or the Lakers, and it kind of freaked out the Mavs' perimeter game.
This idea of dominant defense by a team's best players is a common thread, running through Kobe Bryant, Tim Duncan, and Michael Jordan. When the best player commits to playing the best defense, a win is always within reach.
The Heat clearly outplayed the Mavs when the game was on the line, but I think this article is a bit too dismissive, taking the angle of, "The Heat were not good but still won. The Mavs have no shot." In doing so, they miss the reality that the Mavs were playing pretty bad offensive basketball themselves. There was a key moment with five minutes to go where Dirk was posting up in his favorite spot on the right block, made his move, and had an easy baseline turnaround, the kind that he makes in his sleep and in the Thunder series never missed. Last night, he missed. And right at that point I knew, if Dirk was going to miss that shot, then the Mavs just didn't have it last night.
It was reported that Dirk Nowitzki suffered a torn tendon in his left (non-shooting) hand in Game One. Neither Dirk nor the Heat seem concerned about his ability to shoot, but that's a bit of a side point. The main concern I would have if I were Rick Carlisle is Dirk's ability to hang onto the ball, both from a post-pivot standpoint as well as a rebounding standpoint.
More links after the jump.
Mike Miller, one of the key outside shooters for the Heat, appeared to re-injure a should that had originally been hurt in the Bulls series. His play, along with Mario Chalmers, is going to be critical because the Heat must be able to space out their offense if they are to continue giving James and Dwyane Wade space to operate.
Pruiti does a great job breaking down how one of the biggest exclamation points of Game One was much more nuanced than it seems on the surface. It reminds me a bit of how a great quarterback always thinks ahead on how to set up a defense for exploitation.
Dwyer breaks down Game One and notes that the Heat were the ones in control while the Mavs were on edge. Both of these teams advanced because they were able to close out 4th quarters better than their competition (Thunder, Bulls). This time out though, it was the Mavs who let a late-game lead slip.
Pelton writes that Miami's size and strength on the perimeter made it extremely difficult on the Mavs. I think that the biggest wrinkle the Heat threw at Dallas was in laying off of Dirk with the Heat's best defender, LeBron James. Instead, James stuck to guarding Jason Terry, which was a bit of a masterstroke. The Heat knew that Terry is a streak shooter who often becomes the team's #2 scorer, and they took him out of the game. By the end, Terry was rushing bad shots and not shooting with confidence.
Rohde writes about Nick Collison's impressive run this past season, which had an inauspicious beginning while he began the year in rehab. Collison's real value came to the forefront in the playoffs when he was often the best post defender on the team.
This is a good graphical representation and analysis of how we view the geographic impact of NBA fanbases. One helpful aspect is that we no longer should view the NBA in terms of the cities, but in the greater metropolitan areas where the teams are located.
I still don't totally care for the way the league discloses (or not discloses) key financial information about league performance, but I still believe Stern that the structural problems with the way the league is set up are broken and need to be revamped.
Kyle Singler, Duke legend, is currently slotted to be chosen by the Thunder at the 24th pick. I liked Singler on the college level, but at the pro level I would worry that he's another latter-day Mike Dunleavy. He's not quite quick enough to drive by people, not quite strong enough to hold his position in the post, and not quite good enough of a shooter to make an immediate impact. Or, he could prove everybody wrong and just be a good ball player, like James Harden has proven himself to be.