Here are three things to watch for as you get ready for game three of the NBA finals.
Will the Mavericks bench finally put their stamp on this series?
Despite outscoring the Heat in game two, the Mavericks' bench has struggled through two games. While too much emphasis is put on home-court advantage in the playoffs, playing at home tends to have an impact on bench players especially. Jason Terry was able to score eight points in the Mavericks' fourth quarter rally and the Mavericks will have to hope it's a sign that he's finally getting back on track. Peja Stojakovic and J.J Barea have been non-existent through two games. Barea has been able to penetrate but has panicked around the rim while Stojakovic has looked utterly lost on the court. Here's where the home-court advantage comes into play. Barea has shot 43% from the field at home and only 35% from the field on the road. Stojakovic? An even more dramatic split. He's shot 52% from three at home and only 23% on the road. A good sign for the Mavericks as they have the next three games at home.
What kind of impact will Brendan Haywood's injury have?
As of right now, Haywood is being listed as a game-time decision but even if he is able to play, he will be limited. In that case, Ian Mahinmi will be forced into his first extended action in the playoffs. Mahinmi has shown the ability to play and not be overmatched by his opposition even though he's a tad undersized for a center at 6'11. He will have to keep from getting too amped up as he has a tendency to pick up quick fouls. Which puts a ton of pressure on Chandler to stay out of foul trouble. If Chandler is not able to stay out of foul trouble, the Mavericks will have to go small and that has proved to be disastrous against the Heat through two games.
Will Chris Bosh make an appearance in this series?
After shooting 60% from the field in the Eastern Conference finals, Bosh has shot a putrid 26% from the field in the Finals. He has missed some open looks but Chandler's length has played a larger part in bothering his shot than expected. Bosh went to Lincoln high school in Dallas and therefore was rumored to become a Maverick for the longest time because of his Dallas ties. Being a home town guy can be stressful with family and friends asking for tickets among other stuff each time you come home. Bosh has said as much in recent interviews and it shows. He has never won a game in Dallas in his career. 0-8 lifetime. Yikes.
Game three should be fascinating to watch. The Mavericks will have all the momentum after stunning the Heat and stealing game two. But the Heat will come out focused and attacking and it would not surprise me if they take an early lead in this game. The Mavericks have not played there best basketball and yet were able to manage a split. There is not much separating these two teams and game three will likely come down to execution down the stretch. The Heat were able to close out game one, the Mavericks were able to close out game two. Who will close better in game three?
We'll find out tonight.