NBA Finals: What happens in Game 2?
It's adjustment time. What must the Mavs do to even the series? How can the Heat maintain home-court advantage? What about Dirk's finger and LeBron's hot hand?
Let's break down Game 2 (ABC, 9 ET) with another Finals edition of 5-on-5:
1. In order to win Game 2, the Mavs have to ...
Kevin Arnovitz, Heat Index: Find better opportunities for Dirk Nowitzki. The Mavs killed the Lakers and Thunder with good ol' pick-and-pops, but Heat defenders are far too quick and well-prepared. The Heat won't let J.J. Barea run wild and won't give Dirk all the space he can eat to launch the one-legged dagger. An occasional rebound or two would help matters, too.
John Krolik, Cavs: The Blog: Get a better game out of Jason Terry. Terry has been the Mavericks' No. 2 option throughout the playoffs, and the Mavericks were in great shape when Terry was making shots. Unfortunately, he made his last shot or free throw of the game with 38 seconds remaining in the first half, and the Mavericks were outscored by 12 after that happened.
Rob Peterson, Hardwood Paroxysm: Make shots. Sounds simple, doesn't it? Throughout the postseason, the Mavs' spacing and ball movement have been unmatched. And in Game 1, they had good, open looks, but shots didn't fall. Miami's ability to quickly rotate on defense had a hand in disrupting the Mavs. But if they knock down five more open shots, the Mavs win that game.
Michael Wallace, Heat Index: Make shots. Yes, it is that simple. I'm not suggesting that Dallas needs to shoot better than 50 percent to win. But cracking 40 would be a start. Miami's defense can be stifling at times. But the Mavs participated in their Game 1 demise by missing plenty of layups and relatively open jumpers on the way to shooting 37.3 percent in an eight-point loss.
Brian Windhorst, Heat Index: Shoot better. Many people focused on the rebounding but second-chance points actually were even. Dallas missed some clean outside looks, shots the Heat are probably going to give up during the series. The Mavs need to force the Heat to come out and guard them to open up the middle. Otherwise they'll continue to struggle to break 90.
2. In order to win Game 2, the Heat have to ...
Kevin Arnovitz, Heat Index: Continue to lock the Mavericks up when it matters most. You can't go viral on YouTube with pick-and-roll coverage and defensive rotations, but the Heat's defense is exhibiting the kind of choreography you usually see in elaborate stage productions with funny costumes.
John Krolik: Score inside. Dallas is a jump-shooting team, and Miami has Dwyane Wade and LeBron James. There's no good reason for Dallas to have only four less points in the paint and six more free throw attempts than Miami, no matter how much zone the Mavs play. Miami hit some 3s to stay alive, but the Heat need to get more shots at the basket in Game 2.
Rob Peterson, Hardwood Paroxysm: Do more of the same. The Heat haven't rolled opponents this postseason as much as they've slowly squeezed the life out of them like a boa constrictor. Great defensive rotations combined with a heavy dose of a multi-faceted LeBron James (Shooter! Playmaker! Defender!) down the stretch has made life miserable for foes in the playoffs. Don't go changin'.
Michael Wallace, Heat Index: Repeat the formula from Game 1, when they had plus-10 differentials in rebounds and bench scoring. I don't expect the Heat to outperform Dallas at the 3-point line again, but they can beat the Mavs on energy and effort again in Game 2 -- especially at home.
Brian Windhorst, Heat Index: Continue to use their athleticism on defense. It caught the Mavs off guard in Game 1 but they'll make adjustments to try to use Miami's speed and aggressiveness against it. Also, the bench may not win against the Mavs' bench but it needs steady production, especially from Mario Chalmers and Udonis Haslem.
3. Bigger worry: Dirk's injury or Dirk's help?
Kevin Arnovitz, Heat Index: James clucked at the notion that the injury to Dirk's "guide hand" would have an impact going forward. The bigger issue for Dallas is an ability to get its trio of scoring guards off the schneid. If Jason Kidd, Terry and Barea combine to shoot 27 percent again, the Mavericks can get all the crisp ball movement they want and it won't matter.
John Krolik: Dirk's help. Dirk wasn't much better before the injury than he was after it, and he's a true gamer. He'll play through it. But there's no way Dallas is going to beat Miami's defense if more players don't step up and put some pressure on it.
Rob Peterson, Hardwood Paroxysm: Dirk's help. Dirk will be fine. It's the Dallas bench that's worrisome. Spectacular all postseason, the Mavs' bench was outscored 27-17 by the Heat bench in Game 1, which, I think, has consisted of five guys from the VFW in Fort Lauderdale most of the season. Terry, Barea and Peja Stojakovic need to step it up for the Mavs to win.
Michael Wallace, Heat Index: Because of Dirk's injury, Dirk's help falls under intense pressure. Terry admitted they weren't prepared for James guarding him. Peja's shot disappeared. And you could make a strong case that Chalmers outperformed both Kidd and Barea. That can't happen again if Dallas plans to win this series.
Brian Windhorst, Heat Index: The Mavs are one of the deepest teams in the league, if not the deepest, and the supporting cast will come around. Dirk probably isn't going to be debilitated by the injury but his game could be diminished a bit. I'm not sure the Mavs can afford that.
4. Bigger surprise: LeBron's shooting or LeBron's D?
Kevin Arnovitz, Heat Index: That LeBron is stepping into his long-range shot with Ray Allen-like confidence isn't all that surprising -- but the Allen-like results are. We have to expect a regression to the mean on LeBron's jumper, but the good news about defense? It doesn't slump.
John Krolik: LeBron's shooting. LeBron has played great defense in the playoffs and the regular season for years, so this should be no surprise. But he's never shot particularly well from the outside in the playoffs, and he's been on fire from long range this postseason.
Rob Peterson, Hardwood Paroxysm: Everyone knew that if and when LeBron put his mind to defense that his size, strength and quickness would make him a premier defender. That's not a surprise. But that LeBron's J from the perimeter has been consistently wet? That's a surprise. It makes him unguardable. But if we're honest with ourselves, we shouldn't be surprised by LeBron any longer.
Michael Wallace, Heat Index: LeBron's shooting. He's been a great defender, when motivated, for a while now. His shooting has never been as good as it's been in these playoffs -- especially in the fourth quarter. It's to the point now where he's got to be the best bad, ill-advised, off-balanced shot-maker in the league. The more difficult the shot, the better his chances are to make it.
Brian Windhorst, Heat Index: LeBron's been an elite defensive player for the last several years. This is the first time he's shown elite shooting at this consistency level. The way defenses play him, he will usually have open shots from outside. If he's making them, he's hard to deal with.
5. Who wins Game 2?
Kevin Arnovitz, Heat Index: The Heat win Game 2 because they've figured out that speed is their best weapon and are strangling Dallas with it. On top of that, Thursday night will be the moment that the Dwyane Wade we all know and value returns from his mysterious basketball exodus and operates as the Heat's human zonebuster.
John Krolik: I'm going with Miami. The Heat still haven't lost at home in the playoffs, they have momentum and their franchise player didn't just suffer an injury.
Rob Peterson, Hardwood Paroxysm: Considering that I thought the Mavs would steal one in Game 1, I should hedge my bets and say Mavs. But I'm going Heat in Game 2. Miami will handle the short time between games better; that and it will take two games against the Heat for the Mavs to find their rhythm on offense.
Michael Wallace, Heat Index: My hunch is Miami. I think Dirk's finger is in his head. Not literally, of course. But Dirk is concerned about how the torn tendon on his non-shooting hand might affect his overall game. That could have a huge impact on the outcome. Ronnie Lott would simply have said, "Cut it off and tape me up."
Brian Windhorst, Heat Index: The Heat. I don't believe they'll shoot as poorly as they did in Game 1 and their defense has the tools to continue to give Dallas problems. Especially with Dirk maybe being limited somewhat when it comes to putting the ball on the floor.
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