Van Gundy's Keys to The Finals

May 31, 2011's Dan Savage recently caught up with Magic Head Coach Stan Van Gundy to get his keys to the NBA Finals matchup between the Dallas Mavericks and Miami Heat, which include perimeter defense, team involvement and winning on the road.


1) Limit Dirk Nowitzki: Miami has to take away his free throw attempts. He’s going to make some jumpers. They’ll use a lot of different people on him, I would think, but they’ve to limit him some. If he’s at his average for the season, scoring 23, 24 or 25 (ppg.), they’ll be ok. But if he’s up in the 30s like he was last series, it creates a problem. So I think that’s probably their biggest key.

2) Get in the paint and to the free throw line: Dallas has done a pretty good job with Tyson Chandler back there. Shawn Marion is a very good defender; Jason Kidd is a pretty good defender. Is Miami going to be able to get in the paint?

3) Shoot well from the perimeter: Always a key for Miami is how well are they going to shoot the ball on the perimeter? How much are they going to get Mike Miller, Mike Bibby and James Jones involved? Then, how well are Dwyane Wade and LeBron James, in particular, going to shoot the ball on the perimeter? If they’re shooting the ball well on the perimeter, to me, the series is over. There is not really a chance.


1) Get everyone involved: I think for Dallas, their key is can they get some other people involved? If it’s just Dirk, even if he has a really good series, I think they’re going to struggle. The thing they were able to do, obviously, throughout the playoffs so far is they’ve gotten some help from other people. They’ve made threes, Kidd has made threes, Jason Terry has made threes and Peja Stojakovic has made threes. The Heat are one of the best teams in the league, if not the best, of closing down the paint and being able to close out and contest 3-pointers. But, I think getting the other people involved and getting those shooters going is going to be really, really big for Dallas.

2) Keep Miami out of the paint and off the free throw line: Is Dallas going to be able to keep Miami out of the paint and off the free throw line? I think that’s always a key for Miami. Again, Dallas has good defenders on the perimeter and they’ve got Chandler, who has been playing really well, in the back. But, are they going to be able to keep them off the free throw line and out of the paint?

3) Winning on the road: Clearly, they’ve got to be able to win on the road. Miami has not lost a game at home. Dallas has got to win on the road. Miami has homecourt advantage, which is even bigger in the 2-3-2 format. It’s hard to win three straight at home, so it’s huge. Is Dallas going to be able to go into there and be the first team in the playoffs to get a win? I think Miami can win in Dallas, so Dallas may even have to get a couple of wins in Miami, which is going to be very difficult.