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NBA Finals Blog: Mavericks are still very much in it
After spending most of my day talking basketball with friends, family, coworkers, and strangers, I got really tired of talking about Bennett Salvatore’s call from midcourt on a play under the basket and everything else that went wrong for the Mavericks in Game 5.
It’s time to talk about what will (hopefully) go right for Mavericks in Game 6.
It’s times like this when you’re glad to have the home court. Each team has won its home games in this series — if that trend follows, the Mavericks will win.
Miami had a spectacular night from Dwayne Wade, a great night from Shaquille O’Neal, was playing at home, had no Jerry Stackhouse to worry about, and had the referees on their side. Despite all of that, they won only by one point. Assuming Wade misses some midrange jump shots on Tuesday, it’ll be a whole other game. And you can’t assume he’ll shoot 25 free throws again.
The Mavericks are as angry as I’ve seen them. Dirk punted the ball into the stands and accosted exercise equipment. I think they’ll channel that anger and the home-town crowd energy into a steamroller attack on the Heat.
The Mavericks’ backs are against the wall. They played well in bigtime crunch situations against Phoenix and especially San Antonio, and came through. In those games, their defense stepped up. And I see no reason why it can’t, again.
In Game 5, I feel that the Mavericks need to stick to single-teaming Shaquille O’Neal and taking their chances with him. Try to keep him outside the paint, and if he gets in, take the foul. Bring DJ MBenga in early to eat some fouls and send Shaq to the line to deal with one of the noisiest, most boisterous endzone backdrops in the NBA.
I thought Marquis Daniels did the best job defensive against Wade. I’d give him some more time. Having Stackhouse to play tough-nosed defense on Wade will help, too. And keep sending Devin Harris out there to try ball denial. Once Wade does get the ball, I’d bring in the double team, unless Posey is on the court. Posey’s three point shooting has hurt the Mavericks — he worries me far more than Udonis Haslem. If Posey’s out there, I’d have everyone stay home and hope one of the Dallas defenders can challenge him enough to at least make his shots difficult. And if necessary, to take fouls — but if you take the foul, hammer him. No and ones, no weak fouls. Either foul the crap out of him, or hands off. No inbetween.
And on offense, I want to see more guys going to the rim. Devin Harris and Jason Terry went to the rim, but I think Dirk has been a little skittish about Shaq’s uncontrolled elbow rage and Posey and Haslem getting tangled in his legs. It’s time for Dirk to brush that aside and try to get to the rim and, subsequently, the free throw line. He’s shown he can do it, and I’m sure he still can.
The Mavericks are disappointed in themselves, but still have life. That’s a good combination. I think they’ll come out fighting and have a good chance of beating the Heat in Game 6. And with a Game 6 win, the momentum and home crowd will be on the Mavericks’ side in a Game 7.
Now to focus on that Game 6 win.
Mon June 19th, 2006 9:18 pm
Filed under Dallas Mavericks