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Wednesday, June 1, 2011
Is Jason Terry up to King James' challenge?

By Tim MacMahon



MIAMI -- When the physical freak with the defensive end’s frame defends Jason Terry in Game 2, the Mavs’ high-scoring sixth man swears he’ll be ready.

That wasn’t the case in the Game 1 loss, when Miami’s LeBron James grounded Jet in the second half. Terry went scoreless after halftime, managing to fire off only three shots in the two quarters after the Heat gave James the assignment of harassing Terry.

“It was a big adjustment, something we weren't prepared for,” said Terry, who scored 12 points on 3-of-7 shooting in the first half. “We seen it, we made our adjustment and we'll be prepared in Game 2.”

Unfortunately for Terry, it’s not that easy to adjust to King James’ defense. Just ask the MVP. Chicago’s Derrick Rose made only 6.3 percent of his shots while defended by James during the Eastern Conference finals, a major reason why the Heat finished off the Bulls in five games.

“He’s amazing -- 6-8, 260 or whatever and he moves like a football running back,” Dirk Nowitzki said of James. “He can guard any position on the floor.”

There was a lot of speculation that the Heat would sic James on Dirk down the stretch in the Finals. But that matchup didn’t materialize during Game 1, as Miami opted to mix in a decent amount of double-teams on Dirk while putting the defensive stopper on his scoring sidekick.

Miami still managed to make it relatively tough on Nowitzki, who finished with 27 points on 7-of-18 shooting. The Heat took Terry completely out of the equation after halftime.

Mavs coach Rick Carlisle called it “a very high compliment by putting their best defensive player on him.” He’ll get no argument from Miami coach Erik Spoelstra, although he was coy about whether that was part of the game plan or an adjustment.

“He’s a big key to what they do, so we’re trying to treat him with an appropriate amount of respect,” Spoelstra said. “It has to be with a team concept. LeBron is one of our better, most impact individual defenders, so that was something that happened. We’ll see what happens in the next game.”

The Mavs anticipate that Jet will get the King James treatment again, especially late in games.

Terry was coy about the adjustments, saying he’d try to get transition looks and stand in the corner and let James guard him in halfcourt sets.

“I don’t want to give away all my secrets,” Terry said.

Carlisle also emphasized the need to get Terry going in the flow game -- which will only be possible if the Mavs don’t let Miami whip them on the glass again -- and added that Dallas needs to do a better job screening. If James is going to guard Terry, the Mavs should at least make him use energy by running through mazes of picks in halfcourt sets.

One thing the Mavs won’t do is give up on going to Terry just because he’s being guarded by James. Their offense would be too one-dimensional, and they can’t just ask Dirk and his nine healthy digits to carry the load.

“Even though they put [James] on [Terry] in the fourth quarter, we have to keep going to Jet,” Nowitzki said. “He’s got to produce for us.”

The Mavs need Terry to do what the MVP couldn’t. Those adjustments and the Mavs’ execution better be good.