The pine unkind to Miami in Game 1
Two’s Not Enough
By Brad Friedman
DALLAS, June 9 -- Erick Dampier, 8. Miami Heat reserves, 2.
Advantage: Mavericks backup center.
That was the scoring comparison between a Heat bench led by James Posey, Alonzo Mourning and Gary Payton and Dampier in Dallas' 90-80 win in Game 1 of The Finals Thursday night.
In fact, Miami reserves shot almost as poorly as Shaquille O'Neal did at the free throw line, converting 1-of-8 field goal attempts compared to O'Neal's 1-for-9 free throw shooting.
"I think that was an aberration," Mavericks assistant Del Harris said. "They're better than that. But obviously that was as big of a factor in our win as anything. That was huge (for us) last night."
When pressed on the issue as to why the bench only took eight shots, Posey pointed to the flow of the game had everything to do with it. That speaks volumes about the Mavericks' Game 1 defensive rotation, which responded quickly to O'Neal's feeds out of the post when he was double-teamed. During one such sequence in Game 1, the Mavs forced the Heat into a shot clock violation as Miami played hot potato with the ball.
However, don't expect Miami to come out firing next game just for the sake of aggressiveness.
"You all are trying to re-invent the wheel, man," said starter Antoine Walker, who came off the bench in 63 regular season contests. "We aren't re-inventing nothing. We're staying the same. We're staying the Miami Heat. If there are eight shots out there for the bench, that's what those eight shots are going to be.
"We're trying to play basketball. We're not worried about who's getting the shots, how they're getting distributed, who's going to take them. We don't run a ton of plays for Gary, Pose and Alonzo when they come off the bench. So obviously they're going to outscore us on their bench but that wasn't the reason we lost the game."
Players from both sides pointed out that despite the Heat's lack of prowess from the pine in Game 1, Miami still had a chance to win. The Heat narrowed the Mavericks' lead to as close as three points with 3:30 remaining in the fourth quarter.
Like Walker, Heat coach Pat Riley isn't losing sleep over it.
"Just one of those nights," he said. "Some nights you have it, some nights you don't. Our bench has helped us throughout; our bench has gotten us here. I surely am not going to overreact to a game last night where we either didn't get the shots or the shots weren't presented from that standpoint."
The Heat endured a rocky start at the beginning of the regular season before hitting on all cylinders in the playoffs with a 12-5 run during the first three rounds. During those playoff meetings, Heat reserves outscored and posted a higher field goal percentage than Detroit, New Jersey and Chicago in each of series.
Accordingly, despite his lack of panic, Riley understands he needs players to help take the pressure off Shaq and Dwyane Wade in order to be successful.
"We need to get more guys stepping up to get timely shots," Riley admitted. "That's the way it's been all year."
Coaching Shaq Fu
Harris coached O'Neal during his first two seasons in Los Angeles, but feels lke O'Neal wasn't the same man he is today.
"When I was coaching him, (he was) a movie guy and a rap guy," Harris said. "Once Phil Jackson got there he could see that the rap and the movies was not his future, but being one of the greatest players to ever live the game was. He was able to dedicate himself more in the summers than he did previously. I think that he had bad advice."
Harris felt that if O'Neal has waited until he won championships to go into entertainment, he would have been better off. Still he praised O'Neal's role in Kazaam and gave a nod to his music career as well.
"That one rap song, I can't remember the name of it, but I like that one," Harris said assuredly.
The Heat had their hands full with Jason Terry Thursday night. Terry had 32 points on 13-of-17 shooting. Miami's only success in containing him over a sustained period of time was the third quarter, when he was held scoreless.
So what does Udonis Haslem think the Heat need to do to stop Terry and the Mavericks all four quarters in Game 2?
"We didn't play team defense, especially on pick-and-rolls with Jason Terry coming off the pick," Haslem said. "We gotta do a better job of showing and helping J. Will and Gary."
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