A closer look into the 2011 NBA Finals, Lebrons fault or Eriks fault?

Most people argue when comparing Lebron and Jordan, that Lebron had a break down in the 2011 NBA Finals against the Dallas Mavericks. I will watch it closely and see if it was an execution and coaching problem or if it was indeed Lebron’s fault the Heat didn’t win that series.

Start watching the game and the first mistake by Spoelstra is matching up Joel with Nowitzki. Nowitzki is to quick for Joel, it should be Bosh guarding Nowitzki.

Bosh should be outside the three point arch. The Heat had poor floor spacing on offense. Which automatically makes driving to rim very hard, almost impossible.

On defense the Heat were double teaming Nowitzki unnecessarily and leaving shooters like Terry open. If the Heat are gone to double team Nowitzki they should have been ready to rotate to the open man but in most cases the defense collapsed on Nowitzki and the Mavericks got open threes time and time again. The Heat should have stayed on the shooters like glue.

At one point Barea was guarding James posting up, the problem was that James posted up to far from the basket, he should have abused Barrea in the post and take the easy two in the post, Barea would have been helpless to stop it.

The biggest mistake the Heat made on defense was ball watching. They were to busy watching the ball that when their defender moves without the ball and gets open shots time and time again. Just like in the series against the Spurs, the Heat always had to scramble to get out and contest shots rather than staying in front of their man and contesting shots according to the players shooting abilities, sag if they can’t shoot or stay up in their face if they are a knock down shooter.

On one play, Barea was also guarding Bosh but just like James, was posted up to far from the basket. Instead of Bosh backing down or reposting closer to the rim to take advantage of the mismatch, Bosh settled for a fade away far from the basket. That play epitomizes why the Heat struggled to score on offense, just poor execution because Spolestra did not have a solid half court offense that got everyone on the same page, instead there was a lot of individuals making great plays. Very low IQ basketball.

The ball watching on defense for the Heat continued throughout this game and affected their transition defense which gave up easy shots for the Mavericks because instead of picking up their man their watching where the ball is and it’s an easy pass and easy score for the Mavericks. Such things should be an easy fix, time out sit the Heat down, say hey stop watching the ball and stay on your man at all times, contest every shot.

When the Heat had to guard the pick and roll, Joel went out pass the three point line to show against Jason Kidd instead of following his man Chandler to the rim. The fact that Jason Kidd was shooting 34% from three point range, Erik should have told Joel that he doesn’t need to go out that far to show against Kidd but chase after Chandler and run to get in front of him.

The floor spacing was inconsistent, sometimes the spacing was good and a lot of times the spacing was horrible. One play, Wade drove into the lane with Haslem and Joel already in the paint waiting for an offensive rebound. Wade made the wrong decision to drive to the rim with them in the paint but if we back up further, we realize it’s because of a lack of half court sets that gets everyone with and without the ball involved in the offense.

Joel Anthony went to double team Jason Kidd of all people out beyond the three point arch and leaves Nowitzki open, Heat defense recovers to him but he makes an easy pass to Shawn Marion cutting to the hoop which results in easy two points. The coach should address such things, either by yelling it out from the sidelines or calling time out, that is unacceptable. There is no need to double team Jason Kidd beyond the arch and he’s the worst person to double team because of his passing and play making abilities.

Even in the fourth quarter the Heat were ball watching and leaving guys open.

Mike Bibby had a horrid shooting night and should have been benched early because he’s not that good defensively.

Most times the Heat just stood around and watched Wade or Lebron dribble the ball, not enough player movement without the ball.

Spoelstra before the start of the 4th quarter said “we have to move the ball, get up the court, generate some stops and get in the open. Well we do have to defend no matter what and that could lead us into some open court opportunities in the open court, If we do end up in a half court I do want to see the ball move more from side to side.”

Erik Spoelstra

Good defense and forcing turnovers to get in the fast break is great, however your not always going to force turnovers and the Heat defense wasn’t that good. So being able to score in a halfcourt set is extremely important! Spoelstra also fails to address the fact that there isn’t much player movement without the ball. Ball movement is great but you need player movement as well!

If your guys are just standing still passing the ball around the defense doesn’t need to move until you move, the best and easiest way to move is without the ball!

Just imagine, Chalmers dribbling the ball at the top of the three point arch, Lebron setting a pick for Wade mid range, James rolling to the rim, Wade drops back for a pass and at the the same time Mike miller running out to the other side of the court to set up for a catch and shoot three, now Chalmers has the option to give the ball to Wade for a triple three threat, catch and shoot, pump and drive, pump, drive and kick, pump and alley oop to Lebron, or Chalmers can lob to the cutting Lebron or fake the pass to Lebron and pass to Mike whose running out to the open spot beyond the arch.

Instead, what you see is Chalmers dribbling the ball down to 16 seconds on the shot clock and finally passing the ball to Wade who passes to Lebron who eventually forces up a contested shot.

 Another issue, was taking to long to get into any kind of halfcourt set and than on defense you see Wade leaving Stephenson to help Miller vs Barrea. Stephenson than gets a pass and hits a three. A real coach would have called timeout right away and address those things to nip it in the bud. Stop leaving shooters and stop ball watching!

Nowitzki should not have been double teamed but the Heat did time and time again. Just get Haslem and Bosh on him in one on one coverage all the way. Have them contest the shot as best they can and if Nowitzki scores he scores but don’t leave shooters to double him. Nowitzki by the way was cold this game especially in the first half which is even more of a reason not to double team.

Heat kept going toward their teammate with the ball in the paint, as a result there is a crowd of defenders and teamamtes around the guy in the paint, which is such poor decision-making. Your supposed to get away from the guy with the ball in the paint to give him space to go to work down low. When you go towards the guy with the ball you bring the defense to him and the chances of the ball getting stolen or swatted goes up tremendously! Instead spread the floor and make yourself available for a easy pass, catch and shoot.

Time and time again the Heat leave Terry to double team Nowitzki and that alone helped to keep the game close.

On the one play Nowitki got the ball in the post, Haslem instead of cutting off the baseline, bodied him up toward the center, Nowitki spins baseline and draws the foul. Should always cut off the baseline, harder to make a contested shot than it is to make a contested lay up.

The Heat won game 1 but in all honesty the game should not have been that close, had the Heat executed correctly it would have been a blow out.  But none the less it was a win.

Lebron James finished with 24 points, 1 steal, 5 assists, 9 rebounds, hit 4 of 5 threes, made100% at the free throwline and was +9.  In conclusion, the game was not as close as it was because of Lebron but because of the poor execution on both ends of the floor which is on Spoelstra.

I will analyze game 2 in the next post.



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