Dallas Mavericks' Game 3 Adjustments: Limit Turnovers, Play More Zone

Each day, we are going to preview the night's NBA Playoffs action by looking at the adjustments that can be made by the losing team and showing what they can do to win.

After taking a 2-0 series lead, the Dallas Mavericks went to Portland and lost Game 3 to the Trail Blazers.  If the Mavericks want to take Game 4 in Portland, they are going to have to make a few changes.

Offense:  Limit Turnovers

In Game 2, a game where the Mavericks won, they limited themselves to just six turnovers over the course of the game.  On the road in Game 3, the Mavericks turned the basketball over 16 times.  5 of these turnovers lead directly to transition opportunities for the Blazers, allowing them to score nine nine points.  These points were key in allowing Portland to not only pull away, but to maintain the lead.  Most of these turnovers weren't even forced turnovers, but just bad decisions made by the offense:

On this play, Jason Terry gets the basketball and tries to drive and kick.  However, Gerald Wallace reads this perfectly, gets the steal and creates a transition opportunity resulting in two points.

Here, Jason Kidd gets by his defender, Wesley Matthews, but instead of taking advantage, Kidd stops and throws his body into Matthews, presumably to draw a foul.  Instead, Matthews knocks the basketball away and gets the steal.  Eventually this leads to a wide open three pointer in transition.

Finally here, Kidd tries to skip the inbounds pass ahead to Dirk Nowitzki halfway down the court.  The pass is read, and the Blazers get the steal.  Two more points for the Blazers in transition.

Turnovers are going to happen because you aren't playing 5 on 0, but the Mavericks need to limit these kind of turnovers.  The ones that are unforced and lead to live ball transition opportunities.

Defense:  More Zone

In the first two games, the Dallas Mavericks played no zone (as you would expect when the top two zone defenses in the league meet up).  However, with Portland at home for Game 3 and with them going off on the offensive end, the Mavericks played two possessions worth of zone, when they really needed stops.  They got stops both times:

Here, the Blazers bring the basketball up the court as the Mavericks set up in their zone.  The Blazers want to get the ball in to LaMarcus Aldridge and they do.  What the zone allows the Mavericks to do is double-team Aldridge without it really being a double-team.  The result is a double-clutched three point shot from Brandon Roy that doesn't even draw iron.

Again, the Blazers get the basketball up against Dallas' zone.  Again, there isn't much ball movement or player cuts and Wesley Matthews takes a contested jumper.  

Despite being a team that plays the second most zone in the league, the Blazers aren't really prepared to play against a zone.  The ball sticks and there is no motions.  The Mavericks had to have noticed the Blazers' struggles against the zone and I think if they play more zone they will be able to get more stops.

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