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3-ball must be weapon in Mavs' favor

5/30/2011

MIAMI -- The Dallas Mavericks know the 3-pointer must be a money ball for them if they have any shot of dinging a quick and rugged Miami Heat defense.

Dallas has been dominant from beyond the arc all postseason, shooting it at 38.8 percent -- two percentage points better than the regular season -- and making 66 more than their opponents, a 198-point differential.

"Three of the best in the business in the history of the game," said guard Jason Terry, referencing himself, Jason Kidd and Peja Stojakovic, all of whom rank in the top of eight on the NBA's all-time 3-point list. "The numbers are with us. Percentages say and history says that those guys are going to make shots."

The Miami Heat are not a good 3-point shooting team. They're hitting the long ball at 32.2 percent and have taken 98 fewer 3s than Dallas. It might not get easier for Miami to score out there. The Mavs have limited teams to 26.2 percent from downtown, while Miami has surprisingly allowed 38.5 percent shooting, a fact that should make Terry's eyes light up.

Both teams, however, suggested that the key to the 3-point battle isn't about offense, but rather reducing the good looks the other team gets during the course of a game.

"It's huge. We've got to win that battle, it's one of strengths," Terry said. "We can't let them get hot from 3. LeBron's been doing an outstanding job lately in late-game situations of taking and making big 3-point shots. They've got Mike Bibby, James Jones and Mike Miller, who obviously can get hot and have in this postseason. With the way their defense is we have to make shots.

The Heat are 79-of-245 from beyond the arc, with LeBron James, who has hit several dagger 3s to ice games, leading Miami with 21 3s on 57 attempts. Terry, Kidd and Stojakovic have combined for 91 3s. Dirk Nowitzki has 16 on 31 attempts.

Miami's best 3-point shooters have been lightweight factors in its run to the Finals. Miller is 4-of-19 in the playoffs. Jones is shooting the 3 a team-best 45.9 percent (17-of-37), but despite averaging 22.2 minutes in 12 games, he's fallen out of the rotation. Bibby is 12-of-49 (24.5 percent) and Dwyane Wade is 7-of-29 (24.1 percent)

"I need to make shots. Mike needs to make shots. All of our shooters need to make shots," Jones said. "Moreso, defensively, our aggression or our ability to run them off of shots and not give them the easy looks and the good looks and the looks off of offensive rebounds. If you can contain them from the 3-point line the burden of our team needing to make 3s is less."