NBA Finals Game Two - Ohio State's Troubles



By Jim Hurley:

Let's face it:

There were more than a couple of statistical oddities that came out of Miami's 92-84 grind-it-out Game #1 win in these NBA Finals.

First off, the visiting and 4 ½-point underdog Dallas Mavericks actually attempted six more free throws than the Heat (32-to-26) plus the Mavs scored more fast-break points (12-to-7) and held Miami to a mere 31 field goals in 80 attempts (that's 38.8 percent).

Still, it wasn't enough as the Heat played major lock-down defense - especially in the first and third quarters when Dallas registered just 17 points in each frame - and the LeBron James/Dwyane Wade/Chris Bosh mighty triumvirate scored 65 points (or nearly 71 percent of the Miami points in all) and they sure made 'em when it counted such as the late third-quarter triple-fest by James (team-high 24 points) and some monstrous fourth-quarter hoops by Wade (22 points including 15 of 'em after halftime).

The $64,000 question entering tonight's Game #2 clash in South Beach isn't necessarily whether or not the Mavs' zone defense can keep James, Wade and/or Bosh in check here but rather what's Dallas uber-star Dirk Nowitzki gonna give the Western Conference champs just 48 hours after learning that he finished up Game #1 with a torn tendon in his left (non-shooting) hand.

Nowitzki attempted only 17 FG tries in Game #1 - making 8 of them - but as long as we're discussing statistical oddities here in these NBA Finals it did seem strange that the punch-less Mavs bench actually attempted more FGs than did Nowitzki (that's 4-of-22 shooting) and that simply cannot happen here if Dallas is going to gain its much-needed series split here.

Okay, lots more preview goodies straight ahead but now hear this: Jim Hurley and his Network of Handicappers and Bloggers get you all the NBA Finals action - that's the Sides & Totals, folks - as the Dallas Mavericks and the Miami Heat collide again tonight in South Florida with Game #2 action tipping off shortly after 9 p.m. Eastern time. Just remember to call the toll-free telephone # of 1-800-323-4453 or go online right here and make sure you're all aboard for the ground-breaking hoops winners. Plus, make sure you stay with us right through the summer with all our Major-League Baseball winners!



DALLAS at MIAMI - Heat leads series 1-0

No doubt you've heard the news: The Heat's 9-and-oh SU (straight-up) at home in this year's playoffs - the Eastern Conference champs actually are 7-2 ATS (against the spread) against the quartet of teams including Philadelphia, Boston, Chicago and now Dallas - and so it's extremely tough to poke any holes at all in Miami's game when it is playing in front of that "white-out" crowd and what makes the Heat extremely formidable is that close-out defense it plays when the game is on the line.

Miami only allowed three made Dallas field goals in the first 8:18 of the final quarter in Game #1 and - by the time Nowitzki canned a jump shot with 2:42 remaining in the game - the Mavs were down 85-77 and merely hanging around without sporting a real great chance to win. The moral of this little story is that Dallas better be holding a lead - and preferably a comfortable one - when this game heads down the stretch or else that stifling Miami defense likely will take command and squash the Mavs faster than you can say Mark Cuban!

Look for the following three game-plan strategies to play out here in Game #2:

Dallas needs to get a better grip in terms of the backboards as Miami's 16-6 offensive rebound advantage was a killer in Game #1 and - as we first suggested in yesterday's edition of Jim Sez - maybe Dallas boss-man Rick Carlisle should play seven-footers Tyson Chandler and Brendan Haywood for a few minutes at the same time to get command of the glass. Hey, Haywood might have been the recipient of a few verbal barbs by ABC game analyst Mark Jackson (the soon-to-be next head coach of the Golden State Warriors) but he snagged 7 rebs in 14 minutes of game action and thus allowed the Mavs to hang tough at times in the second half when Miami really was ready to deliver a major KO blow;

Next, there was plenty of talk about Dallas' bench failing 'em but here the Heat reserves again must shine: Guard Mario Chalmers (12 points) drilled three triples in Game #1 and even venerable F Juwan Howard (three key offensive rebounds in just 8 minutes of game action) was a key factor but coach Erik Spoelstra needs similar productivity here. Remember the old Hubie Brown motto that bench players always play better at home! We shall see here.

Finally, a fact hidden by Miami's Game #1 win was the Heat missed some key free throws en route to a 19-of-26 effort from the charity stripe (that's a less-than-average 73.1 accuracy rate) and sometimes in these playoff tilts missed free throws in the game's first three quarters of play catch up with a team come the fourth quarter. What's with Wade missing 3-of-5 foul shots in Game #1, anyway?


Make no mistake about it: The fallout from this whole Jim Tressel "resignation" after 10 years as head coach of the Ohio State Buckeyes hasn't even begun to be felt.

True, the 'Eyes will be getting slapped additional penalties/sanctions from the NCAA folks in the coming days/weeks and no doubt the whole state of the Big 10 Conference will be negatively impacted.

In terms of Ohio State, this 2011 season will be considered a "transitional year" no matter how it turns out under interim head coach Luke Fickell - naturally you've already been hearing calls for former Florida head coach Urban Meyer to take over the Buckeyes reigns in 2012 but we're not quite writing that one in stone just yet - and just think about how the Michigan-Ohio State game (among others) all of a sudden means a whole lot less on a national basis right now.

On Wednesday, one-time Ohio State QB Craig Krenzel - the only quarterback to lead a Tressel-led team to a national championship back in the pre-BCS days in 2002 - admitted that his former coach was caught holding the "smoking gun" after all his lies caught up with him but shouldn't the school's athletic director and school president have to pay a price too as they were "accomplices" in terms of knowing what was going on with sold sports memorabilia, free tattoos and marijuana (allegedly, we add)?

Want to know one reason why Tressel's feet were not held to the fire prior to all the current hub-bub?

One, because he won - his 106-22 mark (an astounding .828 winning rate) was merely stupendous - and secondly because he not only beat Michigan on an annual basis but his teams covered those key games against the maize-and-blue too.

Check out how Tressel's Buckeyes fared in those head-to-head games against Michigan beginning with his first year in Columbus back in 2001 (and note home teams below are in CAPS):

2001 MICHIGAN - 8.5 Ohio State Ohio State 26-20
2002 OHIO STATE - 4 Michigan OHIO STATE 14-9
2003 MICHIGAN - 7 Ohio State MICHIGAN 35-21
2004 Michigan - 5 OHIO STATE OHIO STATE 37-21
2005 Ohio State - 3 MICHIGAN Ohio State 25-21
2006 OHIO STATE - 6.5 Michigan OHIO STATE 42-39
2007 Ohio State - 4 MICHIGAN Ohio State 14-3
2008 OHIO STATE - 20.5 Michigan OHIO STATE 42-7
2009 Ohio State - 11 MICHIGAN Ohio State 21-10
2010 OHIO STATE - 17 Michigan OHIO STATE 37-7

Okay, so Tressel's teams beat Michigan nine out of 10 times SU while going 7-2-1 versus the vig and that, ladies and gentlemen, is gonna soothe the O-State fans every time.

P.S., in case you were wondering, the Buckeyes went a collective 75-48-3 against the odds in the just-completed Tressel Era - that's a resoundingly good .610 winning rate spreadwise ... so no wonder so many "true" Buckeye fans remain upset about this Tressel Affair. If you had just told the NCAA the truth, coach!

NOTE: Get more NBA Finals Updates - it's a Game #2 Preview -- in the next edition of Jim Sez.


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