With the Miami Heat facing elimination in the NBA Finals, you knew that Game 6 was going to be an intense battle. You also knew that there were going to be some decisions and plays, both good and bad, that would help decide the game. This week, we are going to look at a decision that Rick Carlisle made that allowed the Mavericks to get back in the game and a play by Chris Bosh that gave Dirk Nowitzki an open three.

Dallas Goes Zone

In the first 5:41 of the first quarter, the Miami came out on fire, scoring 20 points and taking a 9-point lead over the Mavericks. With the Heat on pace to score 40 points in the quarter, Rick Carlisle decided to switch to the zone despite the fact that most of Miami’s points came from jump shots.

The change worked, as Miami scored just 7 points the rest of the quarter, mainly because the Heat started settling for outside jumpers, especially LeBron James.

So how are these jumpers different than the jumpers that James made in the early part of the first quarter?

Against the Mavericks’ man defense James was on the dribble, putting the defender on his heels, and then pulling up in the midrange area. When the defense collapsed, James would hit a teammate for an open catch and shoot jumper. Against the zone, the Mavericks took this dribble penetration away and left LeBron James standing on the outside. Instead of attacking the zone, James decided to settle for three-point shots, allowing Dallas to get back into the game and turn a 9-point deficit into a 5-point lead.

Chris Bosh Overhelps

Now we’re in the third quarter, and the Dallas Mavericks lead the Miami Heat 68-65. Bringing the ball up, the Mavericks ran a nice set involving player and ball movement, forcing Miami to rotate. While it looked like Miami was rotating well, Chris Bosh overhelped off of Dirk Nowitzki, leaving him open for three.

As Jason Kidd brings the basketball up along the sideline, Shawn Marion comes down the opposite side of the court and sets a cross screen for J.J. Barea. Barea comes off of the screen, cutting away from the basketball.

After coming off of the cross screen, Barea then comes off of a staggered pindown screen set by both Brian Cardinal and Dirk Nowitzki.

After setting their screens, Cardinal heads out towards the corner and Nowitzki pops out behind the three point line as Barea makes the catch curling off of the screen.

Udonis Haslem steps out to prevent dribble penetration, stopping Barea in his tracks. This leaves Chris Bosh to defend both Nowitzki and Cardinal. He does a good job of splitting the two players while taking away the pass to the corner.

As the pass to Dirk gets made, Bosh steps up to him and takes the shot away. Nowitzki quickly swings the basketball to the corner, forcing Wade to come from the opposite block to close out. As the pass is made, Haslem drops to the middle of the paint.

Cardinal pump fakes Wade and attacks with the dribble. Haslem, who dropped down, steps up to take away the baseline drive. It looks like Miami has everything under control as Brian Cardinal is attacking the rim, which is something Miami wants. However, for some strange reason, Chris Bosh not only wanders off Dirk Nowitzki, but he turns his back to him.

With Bosh losing Nowitzki, Cardinal hits him with the pass, giving Dirk a clean look for a three-point shot that he knocks down. Here is the play in real time:

Miami is one of the quickest teams in the league when it comes to rotations and closing out. They did a great job of rotating and taking everything away, up until Bosh’s mistake. That is the problem with playing this kind of defense, one person makes a mistake, everything falls apart.

What Game 6 showed us is that every decision, whether made by a coach in the first quarter or a player in the third quarter, has the possibility of making a huge impact. Until next time.