Game Two Championship Preview

JIM HURLEY'S HANDICAPPING NOTEBOOK

MIAMI HAS ALREADY ESTABLISHED "DEFENSE AND REBOUNDING" CRED

If defense and rebounding wins championships...and you know that it DOES...then the 2011 NBA Finals may already be over.

The Miami Heat clearly established their advantages in those areas over the Dallas Mavericks in Game One back on Tuesday Night. This, after surviving a very physical battle with the Chicago Bulls in the Eastern Conference finals. That was a true WAR of defense and rebounding...with the Bulls holding a slight edge on the boards, but the Heat doing a much better job of keeping points off the board.

Tuesday, both defenses played well. Dallas mixed and match zone and man-to-man defenses to do what they could against the superstar talent of the Heat. They held Miami to 39% from the field, which included an even lower 36% mark inside the arc. Miami shot better on three-pointers than they did two-pointers because Dallas was able to clog things up inside. And, yet:

  • Miami held Dallas to 37% from the field, and even better defensive performance.
  • Miami won rebounding 46-36, with a whopping 16 offensive boards giving them shots at second chance points.
  • Miami grabbed 30 of 36 rebounding opportunities on their end of the floor, which meant Dallas had to nail their first shot if they wanted to score.

At least in the first 48 minutes of game action in the series, Miami played championship style basketball. Dallas showed that they'll have to get creative to win the trophy because they're inferior in the areas that matter most. The zone defense is already an example of that (the Mavs would get killed trying to play man-to-man with undersized J.J. Barea on the floor, or slow and vertically challenged Peja Stojakovic). The rest of the series will now feature Miami trying to slam the door shut, while Dallas tries to keep finding new feet they can stick in the doorway.

Oh, Dallas will be doing that while star Dirk Nowitzki deals with a torn finger tendon on his non-shooting hand. He had some trouble playing to prior playoff norms in Game One before the late injury on a defensive swipe. Now his guide hand will have a splint on it.  

GAME TWO: DALLAS at MIAMI
Miami leads 1-0
Vegas Line: Miami by 4.5, total of 186

The line hasn't moved, because there seems to be stability between the "let's play the bounce back" bettors and the "Miami is obviously the better team" money. If these teams were seen as closer to even in the key stat areas, this line would have dropped to +3 or +3.5 Miami's bonafides were so clear that any sort of decrease would have overloaded sportsbook exposure.

The total has come down two points after the defensive struggle. On the one hand, it looks like 188 was way too high for this series. It took a late flurry of scoring to reach 176! And, games tend to get lower scoring as a series goes deeper. But, on the other hand, both teams missed a lot of open or close-in looks that they probably won't miss to that degree from this point forward. Oddsmakers decided a two-point drop was the best way to account for the possibilities.

GAME ONE STATS
MIAMI 92, DALLAS 84

Shooting Percentage: Dallas 37%, Miami 39%
Three-Pointers: Dallas 9/22, Miami 11/24
Free Throws: Dallas 25/32, Miami 19/26
Rebounds: Dallas 36, Miami 46
Turnovers: Dallas 11, Miami 10
Vegas Line: Miami by 4.5, total of 188
Notebook: We've already talked about the defense and rebounding elements for Miami. Probably the most important stat above in terms of "sealing" their probable championship came on three-pointers. Dallas absolutely HAS to win that stat to have a chance in the series. It was a perceived strength coming in. Yet, Miami takes the opener 11-9, providing a six-point advantage in what ended up being an 8-point win. If you pencil in a more reasonable six made treys for Miami, we're suddenly looking at an easy Dallas victory. If you pencil in the there made treys that were common for Miami in so many playoff games, then everyone's talking about Dallas as probable champions.

If Miami can keep making their open looks on long shots against the Dallas zone, then Dallas literally has no hope in this series. It's as simple as that. Dallas dominated their first three playoff opponents from long range. Dirk is getting all the press, but the reason Dallas advanced with so few losses is that opponents couldn't counteract what they were doing behind the arc. Miami not only counteracted it, they turned the tables and won the stat. BIG STORY!

Let's also note that Dallas won free throws on the road. The Mavs were concerned that the refs might favor Miami in front of a big home crowd. Well, the crowd was strangely silent most of the night. And, the Heat were attacking the basket less than normal because they were having enough success from long range over the top of the zone. Dallas fans have to know that they're not likely to keep winning that stat by this much, at least on the road. And, they will have to win at least one road game if they want to make history...and probably two because it's so difficult to sweep three home games in a row in the 2-3-2 format.

Game Two certainly looms large tonight. It's either the game where Dallas bounces back and makes this a series. Or, it's the game where Miami makes it as clear as can be that they're the champs, and the rest of the series is just a formality. Defense and rebounding wins championships. Miami held Dallas to 37% from the floor, and only 84 points for the game. Miami won rebounding by +10.

JIM HURLEY is working very closely with his on site sources to determine the mindset of each team. If Dallas recognizes the urgency of a big performance tonight...while Miami slacks off a bit after the win (which they've been prone to do for long stretches in ways that didn't prove fatal), then Dallas could be a real power play tonight. But, if Dallas already sees the writing on the wall...and realizes that one of their biggest defensive efforts ever could only get them an 8-point loss...then things could get ugly here. Dallas losing its defensive fire would allow LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, and Chris Bosh to run rampant through the paint. Blowout city.

We have crunched all the numbers. We have looked at all the championship trends. We have been running computer simulations through the night because software never sleeps. We have talked to our Wise Guy connections to see what the smart money is going. But, that stuff will take a back seat to the information we get from our sources. Our major release tonight could very easily be a double digit cover thanks to what we learned from our guys on the scene.

You can purchase that play right now with your credit card. Game day releases are always available here at the website. Discounted rates are still available for the full series as well. Don't forget to check out our hot baseball. Among games of interest for us Thursday Night are San Francisco/St. Louis in the National League, and Texas/Cleveland in the American League. Combination rates involving basketball, baseball, and the upcoming BELMONT STAKES in horse racing can be discussed at 1-800-323-4453.

Back with you Friday and Saturday to talk more baseball. Our next basketball report will be Sunday for Game Three in Dallas. Be sure you're with us EVERY DAY so you know what's REALLY happening in the world of sports! AND LINK UP WITH JIM HURLEY WHEN YOU'RE READY TO MAKE SOME MONEY!

23
Aug

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