Though conventional wisdom is that a series is never over until a team loses at home, the Dallas Mavericks seriously have their backs against the wall in Game 2 of the NBA Finals (9 pm ET, ABC) against the Miami Heat. Miami are undefeated at home so far, so Dallas has a serious mountain to climb, especially with Dirk Nowitzki's injured finger. The game starts at 9 pm Eastern time and can be seen on your local ABC affiliate.
Pre-game, SB Nation Dallas had some thoughts about the team's use of zone defenses and Rick Carlisle's statements that the team is not going to live off of zone defense. This is probably a good call, as Evan Dunlap from SB Nation Dallas explains.
In the regular season, the Heat faced a zone defense on 226 possessions, or just under three possessions per game, according to Synergy Sports Technology. In that limited sample size, they were only marginally less effective against zone defenses (scoring 0.951 points per possession) than against man-to-man defenses (0.955 points per possession). When one weighs the risk of playing zone--which reduces turnover creation and generally leads to weakness on the defensive glass--against its minimal reward against this particular Heat team, it's easy to understand why Carlisle might be tempted to scale back his team's use of zone as the series moves forward.
Mavs Moneyball focused on the Dallas bench in their pre-game coverage of Game 2, and they had some interesting points to make about JJ Barea, who did not turn in a good performance in Game 1.
Barea also needs try to utilize his most effective weapon off the pick and roll he loves to run: Dirk Nowitzki. Many of Barea's quality looks came from Miami paying extra attention (as they should) to Dirk, and he'd be hurting the team by not taking the open shot or penetrating. But when this doesn't happen, Barea should be specifically looking to get Dirk the ball, something that didn't seem to be a priority for him in Game 1. In a way, getting the ball to Nowitzki when he rolls or pops is one of the highest percentage "shots" JJB can take.
SB Nation's Miami Heat blog Peninsula Is Mightier is super duper confident in the abilities of their own players, so they decided to concentrate most of their writing on the Dallas Mavericks. Dirk Nowitzki has been incredible from the charity stripe in the playoffs, as they explain.
One area that has been stellar for Nowitzki throughout the playoffs is his free throw shooting. He made all 12 of his foul shots in Game 1, which could act as the beginning of a streak similar to his lights out shooting from the charity stripe in the first three rounds of the playoffs. He made 56-of-57 in Round 1 against Portland, 15-of-16 in Round 2 against the Lakers and 59-of-61 in the Western Conference Finals against Oklahoma City. That equals 97.2%. That's sick.
Sick indeed. Check out the game at 9 pm ET on ABC.
For live coverage of Game 2 of the NBA Finals, keep it tuned to this StoryStream. To see the up-to-the-minute score, along with information from around SB Nation on the game, keep your browser on this Heat-Mavs score page. Throughout the NBA Finals, check out our 2011 NBA Finals hub for more coverage. For more on the two teams, Mavericks fans should head over to Mavs Moneyball and SB Nation Dallas, while Heat fans should check out Peninsula Is Mightier.