Monday, May 30, 2011

ADS Finals Preview: Mavericks v Heat

Certain sports words and phrases can make the hair on the back of your neck stand straight up whether you're a fan or an athlete. The casual passing of these words can put a bad taste in your mouth that narrates the tormenting thoughts that have entered your mind.... Heat...2006... Finals...


Here are the Mavericks, in the midst of playoff run, down a trail littered with doubters and naysayers, one step away from their goal only to find Teddy "KGB" waiting for them once again.

It's not often in sports that a team or player gets their chance at a Mike McDermott moment, but the Dallas Mavericks have a shot at redemption that eerily parallels the tormented poker player's road to glory (at this point, if you haven't seen the movie Rounders, then you have no idea what I'm talking about. You should rent it and thank me later).

The Mavericks have battled their way back to the NBA Finals to find the Miami Heat waiting for them at the poker table once again. The stakes are even higher this time and the feeling of being truly "all in" resonates with Dirk and his teammates in Dallas.

Given the state of perception of LeBron's "Decision" and the way the three all stars stacked the deck to try to create a basketball monopoly, there could not be any better story line than having them pitted against the beloved hero who stayed home to finish what he started.

Both teams have been on a tear this post season trying taking care of business to reach their ultimate goals. Miami is now 8-0 in the playoffs on their home floor while Dallas is now 10-1 in the past month of playoff basketball winning their past 5 games on the road- something has to give.

Dallas took the regular season series 2-0 while posting an ADS/ADS+ of 13.1/11.8 against Miami in doing so. The Heat on the other hand managed a very ugly ADS/ADS+ of 16.4/14.7 against the Mavericks.

Most analyst will chalk up the Heats early struggles to lack of chemistry (which is plausible), but how about some credit to the make up of Dallas giving Miami trouble.

It should also be noted between the teams meetings on 11/27/10 and 12/20/10, Miami did not lose a game, going 12-0. After the Mavs beat them in the second meeting, ending Miami's 12 game winning streak, the Heat went on to post another 9 game winning streak. A team can't be playing that bad to combine for a 21-2 record during a 6 week stretch in the NBA.

There are things to breakdown from the early season series matchup as well as the 2011 playoff statistics. The Mavs and Heat are playing such high levels of basketball right now there is more to discuss than just Hollywood headlines.

PlayerADS+ (Heat)ADS+ (Playoffs)ADS+ (Season)
PPG (Heat)PPG (Playoffs)FG% (Heat)FG% (Playoffs)
ADS+ (Mavs)
ADS+ (Playoffs)
PPG (Mavs)
PPG (Playoffs)
FG% (Mavs)
FG% (Playoffs)

Last series Dallas had to slow down the all star combination of Durant/Westbrook, which they did quite well. Now they face another combo of All Stars, in James and Wade, who are unequivocally a more dynamic duo than the Thunder duo.

LeBron James has been the "chosen one" to lead the Miami Heat in the playoffs and has been torching his opponents while doing so. He has posted an ADS+ of 11.3 while shooting 46.3% from the field and averaging 26PPG. It will be a tough task for Dallas to slow down the King of South Beach in this series, though not impossible.

LeBron is capable of having an off night like he did in the regular season against the Mavs, combining for 31% shooting for only 21PPG. Once again, it should be taken with a grain of salt but don't completely dismiss what the Mavericks were able to do against LeBron.

During the playoffs LeBron has shown signs of an improved mid range jumper, but it can still act as his Achilles heal. His Made/Miss ADS is 10.6/14.9, a differential of over 4ft, will indicate the same thing for LeBron as it did Durant/Westbrook/Harden- make them shoot as far away as possible.

Just slowing him down would be great, but doing so will be a task of maximum effort. Should Dallas exhaust fouls and defense intensity trying to stop LeBron James or look at the other parts of 613 gang?

If you're going to have to pick your poison of the two, Dwayne Wade has been less effective as of late compared to LeBron. Not exactly the most encouraging thought for Dallas, since he was able to post an ADS+ of 9.9 and 22PPG while shooting almost 49% against them earlier this year.

In the Chicago series, Wade posted an ADS+ of 8.1, but only 19PPG and 40.5% shooting from the field. With the low ADS+, you would expect the PPG and FG% numbers to be a bit higher. For whatever reason the Bulls gave him trouble overall and Dallas is defensively built like the Bulls at this stage in the game. The one thing Chicago did not have was the offensive firepower to capitalize on a slow night from Dwayne Wade, something the Mavs have deep into their bench.

James and Wade combine for exactly 50% of the Heats FG-A's per game. It would be almost silly to think you could slow down or even stop both of them on any given night. If Dallas has to pick one, as of right now, it would have to be Wade.

LeBron's ADS/ADS+ in the Chicago series was 13.7/12.2 as compared to Wade's 9.1/8.1, 4.6ft further away per shot. Even with this being the case, LeBron has had a better FG%, PPG avg, and been able to get to the FT line at a higher rate.

Neither of them shot long range jumpers (16ft-23ft) extremely well in the Chicago series, though James (39%) was much more efficient than Wade (26%). Against Philly and Boston, Wade shot a combined 50% and James was about the same at 41%.

This deep into the playoffs he could be wearing down a little or maybe Chicago's defense was that good. Either way, he takes a beating all season long and has definitely put a lot of tough miles on his tires since the 2006 Finals. . It may sound asinine to think the Mavs could stop their tormentor from the 2006 Finals, but recent stats could be put into terms like this:

Would you kick a peg legged pirate in his good leg to make him fall down?

The three main contributors for Dallas will play a big role defensively for Dallas trying to slow down LeBron James and Dwayne Wade in this series. While Terry, Marion, and Kidd have managed to come up with timely steals and defensive efforts, their offensive contributions throughout the playoffs have paid dividends as well. The 2,3,4 scorers (respectively) in PPG behind Dirk have not failed to have their moments with a combined ADS+ of 13.3 throughout the playoffs.

Terry has been the main scoring threat next to Dirk for most of the regular season and playoffs. While the Mavs willl need Jason Terry waiting in the wings to connect on some three pointers, they will also need him to be creating shots close to the basket. The Mavericks are better when JET averaged an ADS+ under 14. Restating the Mavs records when this happens, they were 15-5 in the regular season (4 of those losses were when Dirk was injured) and 5-1 in the post season.

Terry will always be available for the timely three, but if he and Marion attack the paint it will help keep Miami's defense spread out and honest. This will in turn help our German stay ri-Dirk-ulously on fire in another playoff series.

This is a very easy matchup to analyze. Do not let LeBron and Dwayne Wade go off at the same time, attacking the rim, and getting easy baskets and FT opportunities. This is easier said than done, but it wont be something the Mavs are unable achieve if they continue their current brand of post season basketball.

Conclusion: Advantage Heat

PlayerADS+ (Heat)ADS+ (Playoffs)ADS+ (Season)
PPG (Heat)PPG (Playoffs)FG% (Heat)FG% (Playoffs)
ADS+ (Mavs)
ADS+ (Playoffs)
PPG (Mavs)
PPG (Playoffs)
FG% (Mavs)
FG% (Playoffs)

It is hard to put into words how epically unbelievable Dirk has been playing in the playoffs. Any article or column describing his game should be replaced with a YouTube video because only the eyes could confirm its real.

Nowitzki finished off the Thunder with an ADS+ of 9.5 and 32.2 PPG while shooting nearly 56% and 97% from the FT line. He has become a malcontent and aggressor on offensive by refusing to settle long distance shots and creating FT opportunities.

To put it in perspective, last series against OKC, Dirk averaged 12.2 FT-A's per game doubling his season average of 6.1 FT-A's per game. When his regular season ADS/ADS+ of 14.3/13.1 is compared to his playoff ADS/ADS+ of 11.2/9.5, he is averaging over 3ft closer to the basket per shot in the post season.

The stats will back up the eyeball test telling you that Dirk Nowitzki is a man on a mission refusing to settle in this playoff run. Its easy to emphasize the importance of Dallas' MVP.

Chris Bosh had a remarkable turn around in the post season since he insinuated that the moment might be too big for him. Maybe he finally found a match up he liked against Carlos Boozer or maybe he figured out the big stage. Either way Chris Bosh is now a piece of the puzzle Dallas must figure out how to stop.

While his playoff ADS/ADS+ numbers are a nice 10.4/9.0 ratio, it is worth noting against Dallas this season his numbers were much higher sitting at an ADS/ADS+ of 14.9/13.4, around a 4.5ft difference. This is something numbers would indicate is not a coincidence or fluke given the amount of shots he took comapred to his counterparts (Bosh-35FGA, LeBron-36FGA, and Wade 33 FGA).

The matchup with Bosh is similar to the Mavs first round matchup with LaMarcus Aldridge, which is a good thing come playoff time. In the regular season Aldridge averaged 27.8PPG on 51.7% shooting against Dallas. However, the Dallas defense (mostly consisting of Chandler and Haywood) turned up the defense in the playoffs lowering Aldridge's numbers to 19.6PPG on 43.2% shooting in the series. Aldridge and Bosh are similar players and will probably be defended in a similar manner by Dallas.

Dallas, once again, will lean on its luxury of having two lengthy and quality 7 footers to slow down a mid range shooting power forward. Tyson Chandler should see majority of his defensive minutes trying to eliminate Bosh from the Miami equation. As big as an importance Chandler's defense is for Dallas, any offensive prowess from Tyson in the finals will go along way as well.

During the regular season against the Heat, Chandler had an ADS+ of 2.9 and 11PPG while shooting 69.2% from the field. If he can duplicate these contributions in the Finals, it would be such a sweet bonus for Dallas.

The Heat lack true depth at the Center position and any aggressiveness on Chandler's part could lead to foul trouble for Joel Anthony. Anthony is not any type of offensive threat, but he is a reliable defender and has averaged 2.1 blocks throughout the playoffs. Beyond him are players with skill sets Dallas would very much like to see in there defending the paint and the players who enter it. Anthony should be an after thought when game planning for Miami, but perhaps attacking him could be the first domino to fall.

Conclusion: Advantage Dallas

PlayerADS+ (Heat)ADS+ (Playoffs)ADS+ (Season)
PPG (Heat)PPG (Playoffs)FG% (Heat)FG% (Playoffs)
ADS+ (Mavs)
ADS+ (Playoffs)
PPG (Mavs)
PPG (Playoffs)
FG% (Mavs)
FG% (Playoffs)

The Miami Heat bench is very thin, even with the recent inserting of Udonis Haslem back into the rotation. The combination of Chalmers and Miller are basically relegated to the 3pt line, with Chalmers having a little versatility but nothing too threatening. Combining for a mere 12.1 PPG throughout the playoffs, the Miami bench brings very little to the aid of their superstars.

The Dallas bench is the complete opposite in that aspect of the game. When your bench has a player your opposition is claiming to prepare for in a similar manner as they did a NBA MVP, you're in very good shape (even if that statement is an embellishment).

JJ Barea
provides a jolt for Dallas at times when they need it most. Barea has posted an ADS+ of 10.3 and 8.9PPG in a variety of ways including knocking down 3's, driving to the hoop, and getting opportunities at the FT line. He has averaged just over 11PPG the last two series for Dallas and they will need him to duplicate that in the finals.

Peja Stojakovic did not have a good series against the Thunder and the Mavericks will need the Serbian sniper to snap out of his current "slump". If he gets hot like he did in the Lakers series, then great things happen for the Mavericks. Peja will continue to get a lot of looks from 3pt land when defenses converge in the paint. If he is draining his shots that will create one huge headache for Miami not even a Bloody Mary could cure.

Conclusion:Advantage Dallas

Overall team ADS/ADS+ numbers for the playoffs show the Mavericks will shoot a little further away than the Heat. However, the Heat's opponents tend to shoot a little closer than the Mav's throughout the playoffs thus far:


Mavs ADS/ADS+: 13.2/12.1 Opponents: 12.5/11.4

Heat ADS/ADS+: 12.9/11.4 Opponents: 12.2/11.3

The Heat's trio of James, Wade, and Bosh combine for nearly 70% of the Heat's FG-A's per game, nearly 16% more than the Mavericks top 3 in FG-A's per game. The Heat trio also combined for an ADS/ADS+ of 11.3/9.8 for the entire playoffs while shooting 47% from the field.

Dallas will not be able to shut down all three of the guys on any given night unless they play with 9 men on the floor, which is against the rules. The key to success is going to be to try to completely take one of them out of the game. Given the matchups and weapons that Dallas has available to utilize, Chris Bosh will probably be the best bet in that aspect. In games he had 25+ points, Miami was 10-2 on the season.

Dallas must also try to keep pace in the FT-A department. Free Throws are free points for Dallas and the way LeBron and Wade attack the rim will almost ensure Miami will have a plethora of them. A free throw is typically the highest percentage shot on the floor for most players, even compared to a dunk or layup. More FT's mean a lower ADS+ and a lower ADS+ usually spells success for Dallas.

Dallas does not have any shortage of offensive weapons either. Terry, Marion, Kidd, Chandler, Barea, and Stojakovic can all take over at any point or stretch in the game. We've seen them do it constantly this postseason With the determination the Mavericks have embodied, there is little reason to believe the trend doesn't continue.

And If Dirk continues his practically robotic terminator style of cold blooded dominance over his opponent, Dallas could easily be heading for storied ending that began with a tatoo of confidence back in October.

Teddy "KGB" is defeated.

Except this ending would be David Stern handing the Larry O'Brien Championship trophy to Dirk and uttering one relieving phrase -"Take Dat Wit Chew."

Posted By: Adam Rosen

Thanks to Heath Huston, Tim Krajewski, and Ted Miles for help with the data.

What is ADS? Read the FAQ and find out.


Kevin said...

Great in-depth analysis. It's funny that Barea is being compared to Rose in style. That's a little bit of a stretch, but a fair comparison.

Did ADS exist back in 2006? It'd be interesting to compare Dirk's numbers now to then.

InvisoBlogger said...

Hi Bob, I'm a big fan of your writing, but you usually don't say implicitly sexist innuendos or vulgar insinuations like "daily intake of estrogen." Don't make it a habit! -Nick

ARSolar said...

Kevin- We were not keeping track of the stat back in 2006. Perhaps once the finals are over we can backtrack and find the data to compare the two series.

Nick- Just to clarify, Bob did NOT write the article, I did. Hope it did not offend you as it was not meant to. Hope you enjoyed the article.