According to the ABC pregame show, this year's NBA Finals is a classic confrontation between two "explosive" offensive teams. In Game 1, those offenses treated us to a 90-80 game in which Miami scored a pitiful 13 points in the second quarter and an equally feeble 12 points in the fourth. Was I the only person in America who was having flashbacks to the 1994 Finals between Houston and New York?
Anyway, here are the worst parts of Game 1, in no particular order.
1. The score
Call me old-fashioned, but I like to see the best teams in the league light it up a little. Neither team is great on D, there are matchup problems on both sides, and they've had almost a week off. I figured Dallas would win by a score of, oh, 110 to 100 or something like that. I got the 1o-point spread right, but I was 20 points off on both point totals. Miami shot a frigid 43 percent from the field, and Dallas shot a not-quite-as-horrible 44 percent. The teams were so cold that I kept expecting Arnold Schwarzenegger to leap out of the crowd and start vomiting up bad puns like "Hey Nowtizki, cheeeeel ouuuut!" or "I'm afraid Wade's shooting has left me cold...as ice!"
2. The Heat's defense on Jason Terry
I guess the above statement is a little presumptuous on my part, because looking back, I'm not sure the Heat were actually playing any defense on Jason Terry. Terry was 13-for-18 from the field (including 4-of-7 three-pointers) for 32 points, and he was wide open on about 15 or 16 of those shots...particularly on those back-to-back threes in the fourth quarter that pretty much broke the Heat's back. If Pat Riley's such a coaching genius, how did he forget to remind Jason Williams about the fundamental "hand in the face" and "stand between your man and the basket" elements of defense?
To bad for the Heat. They wasted a game in which Dirk Nowitzki, Josh Howard, and Jerry Stackhouse shot a combined 11-for-39. That's not going to happen again.Jason Williams demonstrates his "take it up the ass" defense...
...and Gary Payton used "C3PO" defense in the 4th quarter.3. The "Super"stars
For the past week, the sports media has churned out story after story about how the superstars (Nowitzki, Shaq, and Wade) in this series are basically unstoppable. Predictions for Nowitzki and Wade have ranged in the 30s and 40s, and everbody expected at least 20/10 from Shaq on a nightly basis. Well, anyone expecting a Jordanesque scoring onslaught probably cried themselves to sleep last night. Instead of getting Superman, Batman, and Green Lantern, we got the Wonder Twins and Gleek ("Form of...A BUCKET OF ICE!!"). Nowitzki dropped a 4-for14 stinkbomb. Wade scored 28, but he shot 11-for-25, missed both three-pointers he took, and hit only six of 10 freethrows. And Shaq managed a meager17 and 7, despite 8-for-11 shooting. Dampier actually did a good job of blocking the Big Guy out, but the lack of scoring punch was due to...
4. Shaq's freethrows
Shaq's status as an all-time great is without question. But people who put him in the top five are insane. He has several fundamental flaws as a player that limit his greatness. He's guaranteed to miss about 20 games a season. He spends about half of the season out of shape. He can't create his own shot. And you can't go to him at crunch time because he can't hit his freethrows. He shot 1-for-9 last night. Right before he attempted his 8th freethrow, they showed a graphic about how Shaq holds the NBA Finals record for most freethrows attempted without a make (0-for-8), and the Diesel promptly matched it by bricking number eight (Kobes old jersey number...coincidence?). He did hit number nine to escape setting another all-time record for foul shooting futility, but the point is this: Shaq's missed freethrows (and Wade's) cost Miami a reasonable chance of winning the game. I'm not saying it's certain the Heat would have won had Shaq hit a couple more, but it would have made a difference.5. That veteran savvyAntoine Walker: 3-for-9 three-pointers and 6 turnovers.Jason Williams: absolutely terrible defense on Jason Terry. He might as well have been an inflatable defender.Gary Payton: 0-for-4 shooting, zero points, 1 assist, and more terrible defense on Jason Terry.Alonzo Mourning: 0-for-1 shooting, zero points, 1 rebound.Does anyone still want to justify Riley picking these stiffs up during the off-season?