Series trends show there's hope for Dallas' offense
Originally Published: June 14, 2006By John Hollinger | ESPN Insider
MIAMI -- This is how fast things can change in a best-of-seven series. Three days ago we were contemplating Dallas' chances at a sweep and comparing Dirk Nowitzki to Larry Bird. Now? We're assessing Dwyane Wade's potential as the next Jordan and comparing Nowitzki to Brad Lohaus. All because of one epic comeback and one blowout win by the Heat this week. One thing I like to do in this situation is take a step back and look at the series as a whole. With four games under our belts, we can focus less on outliers like Dirk's 2-for-14 on Thursday or Jerry Stackhouse's Game 2 explosion, and more on the overall trends.
In doing so, one particular area immediately demands our attention: Dallas' offense. The Mavs were supposed to be able to score on the Heat in their sleep. After all, this was a team that tore through San Antonio -- the league's most efficient defense in the regular season -- with relative ease. Dallas averaged 104 points per game in that series, including nights of 123 and 119, and shot 50 percent in three of the final four games. So if they could do that against the Spurs, certainly they could tear apart the agility-challenged Heat right? Hasn't worked out that way. Truth is that through four games, we've yet to see those Mavs show up. Even in winning the first two games, the Mavs failed to hit the century mark. For the series, they aren't even averaging 90. Not once have they shot 50 percent from the floor, and only in Game 2 did they even come close. Overall, Dallas' offensive efficiency mark of 97.3 for the Finals would have ranked last in the league in the regular season. Breaking down the numbers, there are three glaring reasons for the Mavs' meltdown, two of them obvious and one getting little attention.
Victor Baldizon/NBAE/Getty ImagesJosh Howard and Dirk Nowitzki are the easy culprits for Dallas' offensive problems.