As a preview to the 2011 NBA Finals series, the majority of the discussion was centered on how the Miami Heat would stop Dirk Nowitzki and how the Mavs would curb the influence of the Big Three in, LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh. As anticipated, these guys did end up scoring the majority of the points for their respective teams. Not surprisingly, however, Miami were able to get more from their three-pronged superstar attack that Dallas was able to get from Nowitzki. With Dirk shooting poorly for what seems like the first time this postseason, the main query for Dallas that came out of Game 1 was the input from their bench players and the alarming lack of offense they provided. How does Dallas turn around what was largely a lackluster game offensively? The answer, reader, clearly lies in the work rate and the shooting ability of the Mavericks’ bench. Firstly, Dallas gave up too many offensive rebounds, with the Heat swallowing 16 offensive boards, despite the presence of [caption id="attachment_960" align="alignright" width="200" caption="Tyson Chandler (left) has to protect the rim better in Game 2."][/caption] Dallas’ Tyson Chandler on the defensive boards. The disappointing part of the equation for the Mavs is the fact that the zone defense that Rick Carlisle had implemented for parts of the game was largely efficient, only being undone by Dallas’ poor display of rebounding defensively. One thing that Carlisle’s zone can give up is good looks close the basket. With the Heat willing to move the ball with slick passing, they were able to take advantage of the flaw in the zone. For the Miami Heat, their willingness to share the ball around and find the open man was profound. As a team, they had an outstanding assist-to-field goal ratio of 65%, their highest percentage of what has been an impressive postseason. Another major reason for the Heat’s Game 1 home victory was their superb shooting. They hit 11 of 24 from beyond the arc. For Dallas, this is an area where their work rate needs to improve dramatically. They should be boxing out and crashing the boards with more ferocity, while also hustling to close down the 3 point shot that, if in rhythm, any number of D-Wade, LeBron, Mario Chalmers and Mike Miller can hit with damaging effect. Overall, Dallas’ defense was quite impressive on the transition. They slowed the tempo of the game down to suit their veteran bodies, which they will have to continue to do in Game 2 as Miami, with the blazing speed of Wade and James, can explode for easy points if allowed to run free. The other factor for Dallas was the worrisome lack of offensive potency from the bench. In Game 1, they only registered 17 points on a poor 18.2% from the field, a significantly poor number when compared to the 39 points they average off the bench. It wasn’t all doom and gloom for the Mavericks, however. Their ball movement was efficient throughout the game but they just couldn’t hit the shots, especially deep into the fourth quarter against a fast Heat defense that was hustling to close down shooters. For the Mavericks to steal Game 2 on the road, back-up point guard JJ Barea has to find form. [caption id="attachment_961" align="alignleft" width="200" caption="If JJ Barea (with ball) can regain the intensity he showed against Oklahoma City, the Dallas are a big chance to win Game 2."][/caption] The diminutive guard, who was so important in the previous two rounds, was less than explosive in Game 1 and didn’t provide the spark off the bench that he has become renowned for. Hitting only 1 of his eight shots, Barea’s penetration was curbed, leading to poor shot selection and surprising timidness from Barea when driving to the basket. His production so far this postseason has been a revelation, especially during the Lakers series. If he can regain form in Game 1 he could release some of the pressure that was building on Dirk from Miami’s suffocating late-game defense. Another player that needs to improve on his performance in Game 1 is Jason Terry. After a solid first half, Terry all but disappeared in the second, taking ill-advised shots and not working hard enough to get the ball into the hands of the open man. [caption id="attachment_963" align="alignright" width="200" caption="Dallas' Jason Terry (pictured) has to help take the offensive load off Dirk Nowitzki in Game 2."][/caption] As a player, Terry has the confidence of a natural shooter, so no doubt he will continue to throw up shots. If his shots are falling, it will be a massive boost for the Mavs as they look to head back to Texas with a tied series and three consecutive home games. These players and on-field adjustment are just a small piece of the puzzle that Dallas needs to work on to try and pinch a game on the road. Game 2, like Game 1, will be influenced by defensive pressure and work rate, but also the ability to hit the open man and then drain the shot when the opportunity arises. Can the Dallas bench, which has performed so well this postseason, contribute to a level surpassing that of Game 1? If they can, it will go a long way toward Dallas stealing a road game in this intriguing Finals series?