In the NBA Finals, offense trumps defense

by Berry Tramel Published: June 19, 2011
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Lost in the exhilaration of Dallas' NBA Finals conquest of Miami is this little nugget: Offense beat defense.

Call it revelry over revelation. Everyone was excited that the Dirk Devils kept the Heat from staging a post-championship celebration to go with the pre-championship celebration staged last summer. So excited, all the focus went on that it happened, instead of how it happened.

But offense trumping defense in an NBA Finals is amazing. Doesn't happen often at the highest levels of basketball.

You don't get to June without being good both offensively and defensively. But clearly, Miami was a superior defensive team. In some ways, an historically dominant defensive team, with wing defenders like LeBron James and Dwyane Wade cutting off driving and passing lane.

But Dallas kicked into a higher gear and won the title with offense, spotlighted by Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle sacrificing defense for offense by inserting J.J. Barea into the starting lineup.

Dallas had scratched out a 2-2 series tie through four games, despite scoring 84, 95, 86 and 86 points. The series appeared destined for a grinding finish. But in the last two games, Dallas won 112-103 and 105-95 with remarkable offense.

The Mavericks shot 53 percent from the field those final two games. Think about that. Against a superb defensive team, in the two most pressure-packed games of the season, Dallas made 80 of 151 shots; 56.5 percent in Game 5, 50 percent in Game 6.

Everyone has locked in on the Heat's offense, primarily LeBron's, but in those last two games, the Heat shot 52.9 percent and 47.2 percent from the field, and also got to the foul line at a winning rate — 26 foul shots in Game 5, 33 in Game 6.

Yet Dallas won both games in commanding fashion. That's stunning. The NBA Finals, at least for 20 years, have been defensive tug-o'-wars. The Lakers beat the Celtics in a seven-game series in 2010; LA scored 102 points in the opener and didn't sniff triple digits again. The Lakers won the series by sweeping the final two games 89-67 and 83-79.

In 2009, the Lakers won in five games and held Orlando under 100 points in all four LA wins; under 92 in three of the wins.

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by Berry Tramel
Columnist
Berry Tramel, a lifelong Oklahoman, sports fan and newspaper reader, joined The Oklahoman in 1991 and has served as beat writer, assistant sports editor, sports editor and columnist. Tramel grew up reading four daily newspapers — The Oklahoman,...
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