The Dallas Mavericks almost erased another double-digit lead in Game 3 of the NBA Finals to come away with the win. But after a made Chris Bosh jumper and a Dirk Nowitzki turnover and miss, the Mavericks now find themselves down 2-1 in the series. If the Mavericks want to even things up and at least give themselves a chance to win this series, they are going to have to make a few different adjustments.
Offense: Stop Trying To Create Transition Chances
Dallas' turnover problems in Game 2 didn't really get talked about at length because of the fact that Dallas came back and the Miami Heat ended up playing "Hero Basketball" for the final seven minutes of the game. Most of these turnovers were a result of the Mavericks trying to force the issue and create transition opportunities. The Mavericks cut their turnovers in Game 3 (only turning it over 14 times), but the problem of forcing the basketball and trying to create transition opportunities out of nothing continued to be a problem for Dallas:
One of the tendency teams have when playing a tremendous halfcourt defense like Miami is to say something along the lines of "we need to get out and run, not let them set up their defense." However, what makes Miami so special is that they are great at getting back and playing transition defense. It is becoming more and more apparent that Dallas isn't comfortable running (look at Peja Stojakovic's "outlet pass" or J.J. Barea;s hesitance when trying to force a delayed transition opportunity) and trying to create opportunities. This is what leads to turnovers, so instead of running their stuff (which has done a decent job of getting good looks), the Mavericks are throwing possessions away.
I'm not saying don't run, when the opportunities are there, you need to take advantage. However, trying to create opportunities out of nothing just doesn't work against Miami. Slow it down and run your offense.
Defense: Don't Double Wade/James Post Up Opportunities
In Game 3, the Heat scored 13 points on 12 post-up possessions, according to Synergy Sports Technology. These post-up opportunities can be broken up into two categories, wing post-ups (possessions where Dwyane Wade or LeBron James got the ball on the block) and big post-ups (Chris Bosh and Joel Anthony). The Heat were wildly successful when posting up their wings, scoring 11 points on just 6 possessions with only one possession not resulting in any points. The biggest reason for Wade and James' success is that they were ready for and knew how to handle the double teams that Dallas sent just about every single time:
James got posted up two times (once at the start of the game and once at the start of the second half), and both times it looked like it was a set play designed to take advantage of Dallas' double team. The ball would go to LeBron on the post, Joel Anthony would set a pindown on the weakside (once for Mike Bibby and once for Wade) and the result was an open three for Bibby and an open jumper for Bosh after the defense overplayed Wade on the pindown.
While the post-up chances for Wade came more in the flow of the game (compared to James' set plays), the Mavericks still sent doubles, and the Heat were still ready for these doubles:
On Wade post-ups, the Heat like to use James to enter the basketball. The Heat do this for two reasons. First, if Shawn Marion falls asleep and shades too far off of James, Wade can simply kick it out to James and let him attack (which is what happens on the first possession). Also, it takes away the double team from the man making the entry pass (no team is going to leave James to double the post), forcing the double to come from the weakside. That is what happens on the second play in the video above. The Mavericks double on the pass from the weakside and Wade does a good job of swinging it to the opposite side, and the result is an open jumper for Udonis Haslem.
The only time that Dallas was able to stop a wing post-up was when they allowed Wade's defender (Jason Kidd) to play him one on one, and then bringing help when Wade commits to his move to the rim:
What happens here is that no double comes and Tyson Chandler helps as Wade attacks the rim. Wade is forced to double clutch, allowing Kidd to swipe at the basketball, knocking it loose.
The Heat have done a good job of scouting, noticing that Dallas will send the double team just about every time, and their guys are prepared for it, ready to make the pass out. You play Miami's wing posts one-on-one, you not only prevent the kickout, but you also switch things up, and that too can throw Miami off their game on the block.