MIAMI -- The Daily Dime is going to school at the NBA Finals with ABC TV's "coach in the truck," Bob Salmi. A former NBA assistant, Salmi creates video breakdowns for the TV audience that focus on the finer points of the game. Salmi shared his thoughts and some of his Game 1 and Game 2 tape breakdowns with the Daily Dime. Today he gives us another lesson and a look at what we might have missed in Game 3 on Tuesday night.
More truths from tape room
Salmi: There were three things that Shaquille O'Neal did that helped him against double-teams: (1) He turned away from the double-team before the double-team actually got to him. (2) The repost. Shaq saw the double-team and threw it back out. The Heat let the guy who doubled Shaq rotate out to the weakside and then threw it right back in. (3) He got the ball in transition before the defense had a chance to react and was fouled three times. Getting the ball in to Shaq is important for the Heat, because it helps open things up for his teammates.
Daily Dime: Knowing that Dwyane Wade can do what Wade does, why doesn't Miami make him the focal point of the offense earlier in the game?
Salmi: When you throw it in to Shaq, you force Dallas to make a decision, and it's not a single-coverage decision. Dallas has to double-team from somewhere on the floor. And when Dallas doubles Shaq, good things happen for other Heat players. The strategy to go in to Shaq is sound, and Wade gets some benefit from that strategy.
Daily Dime: What happened to the Mavs' offense in the fourth quarter?
Salmi: They turned it over twice and they missed open shots. It's not like it was a bad decision to slow down the pace. Dallas was up by 13 points with six minutes to go. They wanted to get good shots and run down the clock as much as possible. They got good looks. Jason Terry got good looks. Dirk Nowitzki got good looks. The ball just did not go in the basket. Mavs coach Avery Johnson might be second-guessed for taking the air out of the basketball, but I think it's good, sound basketball strategy.
Daily Dime: What adjustments might we see from the Mavs in Game 4 on Thursday night?
Salmi: The Mavs will probably stick with their game plan. They're going to continue to double-team Shaq so he can't go nuts. They're going to try to keep Wade out of the lane as best they can and make him earn his field goals. It's a good strategy. Dallas has to do a little better job on Thursday.
Miami zone offense (see box No. 6 at right): In the first Miami clip, you see how the Heat beat the Mavs' zone. The ball is quickly passed from one side of the floor to the other. When it gets into Wade's hands on the weakside, he drives right by the taller, slower Nowitzki for an easy field goal.
Mavs counter-wing denial (see box No. 7 at right): In the first Mavs clip, they do a good job of denying the Miami wing players and making it very difficult for them to receive the ball. However, Shaq and Antoine Walker read the defense perfectly. Walker makes a backdoor cut and Shaq makes a great pass for the easy basket.
Next up, Terry's mid-range game: In the first clip Terry drives into the paint, but instead of going all the way to the basket, he pulls up short and gets off a quick shot over the closing O'Neal. In the second clip, Terry drives right to the baseline, stops on a dime and shoots the 12-foot jumper with perfect balance.
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Former tennis great Boris Becker interviews Dirk Nowitzki on Wednesday. Now, about that missed free throw ...
Scouts Inc. previews Game 4 of the Mavs-Heat NBA Finals:
The Mavericks were not on their game Tuesday night and they still almost won. They did not run or push the pace throughout the game. They need to start Game 4 with a more aggressive attitude and play at a much faster pace.
Dallas has a major advantage on the perimeter and needs to keep exploiting it. Anytime the Dallas perimeters keep their dribble, they can blow by the Heat defenders, which usually results in a score or a foul.
Dallas utilized the 1-4 elbow pick-and-roll beautifully in Game 3. With Jason Terry and Dirk Nowitzki involved in the pick, Dirk's defender is so afraid of giving too much help and not being able to recover to Dirk. So when Terry hits the pick and turns the corner there is very little help on defense, and he is able to get a quality shot. Look for the Mavs to run this whenever they need a shot in Game 4.
The Mavs also went to Nowitzki near the left-side box (in the mid-lane area) throughout the second half. This proved to be an effective spot to get him the ball. Look for the Mavs to continue this in Game 4, too.
The Heat had no matchup for Howard. Howard stays within the offense and gets his points. In addition, when the Mavs ran Howard off screens, Antoine Walker was no match for him, allowing him too much air space, resulting in quality shots for Howard.
The Mavs did a very nice job in their zone attack. They moved the ball from side to side and were able to drive and get into the teeth of the defense. When they got dribble penetration, it drew the back line of the defense to them, and they were able to drop it down to the bigs for dunks.
Moments after Game 3 on Tuesday night, Heat coach Pat Riley, referring to Dirk Nowitzki's rare miss of a free throw in a crucial moment, said, "The basketball gods were good to us."
Well, the basketball gods giveth and the basketball gods taketh away, it seems.
After absorbing a falling Shaq late Tuesday, Dwyane Wade can barely walk (left knee injury) and his status for Game 4 is seriously in doubt. He says he'll play, and I believe he will -- the man has proven himself a stalwart -- but if we learned anything about the Heat in Game 3, it was that they need a perfect, a superhuman, game from Wade to compete with Dallas.
And that, clearly, isn't gonna happen again in this series. Shaq isn't going to hit two clutch free throws, the Mavs aren't going to go cold all at once, Gary Payton isn't going to hit another carpe diem jumper, and even if all those things did happen, Wade, try as he might, is not going to come up with another 42 and 13 ... times three.
It's a drag. We know he's capable of such greatness. We know he doesn't shrink from the spotlight. We know he's got the tools and the heart to be legendary. And twice now (last year in the Eastern finals, this year in Game 3), an injury slows him (and robs us) at the least opportune, most crucial, moment.
I expect he'll gut it out, and I expect there'll be moments of true heroism from him in the next few nights, but I also expect the Mavericks will win two of the next three games going away. And so we wonder, will we ever get the chance to see Wade on the Finals stage again? He deserves to be back. No doubt he'll work himself silly to get back.
But as Charles and Patrick know, that ain't enough. Shaq will be 35 the next time the playoffs roll around, and at 34 he's already playing a pretty quiet second fiddle to Wade in these Finals.
What are the odds this club makes it back? Not real good. And that's a drag. That's an oversight, or an act of cruelty, on the part of the basketball gods that makes Dirk's missed free throw feel like nothing.
-- Eric Neel in Miami
Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images
Shaquille O'Neal, fresh off a Game 3 win, is congratulated by his stepfather, Phillip Harrison, whose free-throw counseling helped Shaq make a "sizzling" 4-of-6 freebies.
Bob Salmi, ABC's "video coach", explains how the Heat attacked the Mavs' zone defense.
Beating The Zone
Bob Salmi, ABC's "video coach", explains how the Mavs defend wing players, and Jason Terry's pull-up success.
Denying The Wings
Mbenga, remember, was banned by the league for six games after Game 4 of the Western Conference finals against Phoenix, when the 7-footer briefly joined owner Mark Cuban in the stands at the US Airways Center to help the wife of Mavs coach Avery Johnson.
The Mavs have vigorously pardoned and lauded Mbenga, who was in street clothes that night, for his concern during Cassandra Johnson's spat with two Suns fans. Cuban admits that he, too, never thought about potential sanctions from the league when he went to check on the commotion in a section overlooking Dallas' bench.
"If they were going to kick me out of the league forever," Cuban said, "I'd do the exact same thing."
The league ultimately ruled that Cuban's actions, as an owner, "did not violate NBA rules and were not otherwise inappropriate." Mbenga, though, was punished for one game longer than the five-game suspension received in January by then-New York Knicks center Antonio Davis for climbing into the stands at Chicago's United Center to confront a fan he thought he was harassing his wife.
After sitting out the final two games of the Phoenix series, Mbenga can't play in this series before Game 5 ... and it looked as though there wouldn't be a Game 5 when the Mavs zoomed to an 89-76 lead with 6:34 to go in Tuesday's Game 3.
Mbenga barely played during the regular season but was earmarked for spot minutes in the Finals as part of Dallas' platoon of Shaquille O'Neal double-teamers.
-- Marc Stein in Miami
Look at what happened in the first 2¾ games: The Mavs were more than happy to concede open shots to Miami's secondary players. Antoine Walker and Udonis Haslem scare nobody with their outside shooting, Gary Payton has the Bill Simmons Memorial Salad Fork sticking out of his back, and Wade is more of a driver than a shooter. So as long as Dallas rotated back to James Posey and Jason Williams, they knew Miami couldn't hurt them off the double-teams.
Thus, the net effect of pounding the ball in to Shaq wasn't to get more shots for Shaq -- it was to get more shots for Walker. After three quarters on Tuesday, Walker had taken 15 shots, nearly as many as Dwyane Wade's 17, while O'Neal had tried only eight. So why use so much effort getting shots for Shaq when those plays are twice as likely to result in a shot for Walker?
Schinkel (Berlin, Germany): Rollentausch -- that's [German for] role reversal. Dirk's had jibbers at the foul line before (Euro Cup against Turkey) -- but he's hitting more often than not, ain't he?
Nick: I've just finished watching the Mavs-Heat game, and am I the only one wondering why the Mavs didn't attack D-Wade after he picked up his fifth foul? In my opinion, this loss falls squarely on the shoulders of Avery Johnson for not exploiting an advantage and taking the best player from the other team out of the game.
Nathan (Portland): Wow, I knew the refs were going to give the Heat the calls when they were playing in Miami, but that fourth quarter was complete BS. The Mavs were getting knocked around without any calls, and every time the Heat initiated contact, they got a foul. The Mavs did have an incredible collapse, but the refs also had a hand in it. Still, the Heat played the game of their lives, got the calls and just barely won.
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