14 points. That’s all that separated Dallas and Miami over six ridiculously entertaining games. How did it all go down? Before the series started, we had some big questions about the matchup. Here’s how the battle played out:
- Could Dallas stop Wade and James from creating? No. [Good for Miami]
- Would Dirk continue to create as much as he did in the second and third round? Not really. [Miami]
- Would the Mavs create enough to have a plethora of open 3-point shots? Yes. [Good for Dallas]
- Will Jason Terry still score like a viable second option? Yes. [Dallas]
- Could Miami limit Tyson Chandler‘s effectiveness? No. [Dallas]
- Would Joel Anthony have the same defensive impact? No. [Dallas]
- Could Jason Kidd guard either Wade or James successfully? Pretty much. [Dallas]
- Could Peja Stokajovic play with his defensive matchups? Not at all. [Miami]
- Could LeBron James slow down Dirk Nowitzki? Bad question — he didn’t slow down anyone.
Below is the 2011 Finals box score, Back Picks Style, for both the Heat and Mavericks. The glossary of terms is below. Click on the header to sort by column:
|Mavericks||Def||Off||EV||Pos||Opp FG%||FTO||Err||OC||FD||Load||DUsg||Pts||Reb||TOV||TS%||% 2 FG||% 3 FG|
|Heat||Def||Off||EV||Pos||Opp FG%||FTO||Err||OC||FD||Load||DUsg||Pts||Reb||TOV||TS%||% 2 FG||% 3 FG|
Per usual, the Finals MVP wasn’t given to the actual Finals MVP. That’s become the norm, as the voters have a tendency to simply give the nod to either the best player on the winning team or the leading scorer on the winning team. When that’s the same person — Dirk Nowitzki, in this case — no one bats an eyelash. Especially when that player is the darling of the season and a media favorite.
Yet it’s hard to see how Dwyane Wade wasn’t the MVP of the series, in a landslide. He accounted for 58% of the Heat’s Expected Value. If it had to go to a member of the winning team, Jason Terry seemed like a darn good choice.
The Difference in Miami
Coming into the series, Joel Anthony had a standout defensive run in the playoffs while James and Wade captained the ship. The undersized Anthony didn’t have the same defensive impact, mainly because he was stuck on Dirk Nowitzki. That also affected his help defense, as Anthony’s blocks declined (2.5 shots per 36 in the first three rounds to 2.0) along with his double teams (4.3 per 100 possessions to 3.2).
Wade was spectacular, although he finally faded with a weak Game 6. But it was LeBron James who saw the biggest changes in his tendencies. Some tangible changes…
- Defensive Usage declined from 20.7 to 18.3
- Offensive Load declined from 42.5 to 37.3.
- Fouls Drawn dipped from 8.0 to 4.9 per 100.
- Rebounding declined from 7.1 5.9 per 36.
- Turnovers spiked from 2.3 to 3.3 per 36.
Armchair psychologists point to 4th quarter passivity, but the major difference in effectiveness was LeBron’s huge drop in defense. Wade replaced (and exceeded) James’ role from the first three rounds, only James didn’t fulfill Wade’s role. Then again, Chris Bosh boasted an anemic 49.6% True Shooting while also seeing his defensive effort completely erode.
Basically, The Big Three was The Big One.
The Difference in Dallas
Conversely, not much changed in Dallas. It was the same trio of leaders carrying the offensive burden for the Mavs — Nowitzki, Terry and Jose Barea. Tyson Chandler provided more of the same defensive role. Barea and DeShawn Stevenson had much better defensive series than they had in the first three rounds, while Stevenson embodied Donald Williams with his ridiculous shooting.
In a series decided by 14 points, Stevenson boasted an 81.5% True Shooting percentage. He scored at the exact same rate as LeBron James. Only he did it on 7.1 fewer true shooting attempts per 100 possessions. All told, Stevenson was 13-24 in the Finals, including ten triples in the four Maverick victors. James was 4-19 from downtown in those four games.
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