The Miami Heat defeated the Dallas Mavericks 88-86 to take a 2-1 lead in the NBA finals.
The Mavericks started out with three impressive defensive possesions but failed to stop the Heat as Wade hit three miraculous layups as the shot clock wound down to salvage six points. It would be that kind of night for Wade. He picked up right where he left off in game two finishing the half with 19 points. With Haywood inactive, pressure was on Tyson Chandler to stay out of foul trouble. Chandler obliged and did not pick up a foul in the first half, substantial since backup center Ian Mahinmi did not. Mahinmi drew an offensive foul as soon as he checked into the game but picked up 3 quick fouls. The Heat attacked the rim early and often to begin the game as Wade and James each had eight points in the first quarter. A Chalmers half-court shot gave them a 29-22 going into the second quarter. The Heat would extend their lead to 45-31 by converting turnovers and playing impervious defense which forced the Mavericks into sloppy offensive possessions. However, the Mavericks were able to close the half on an 11-2 run to cut the lead to 47-42 after trailing by 14.
Miami scored eight straight to begin the second half and were up 13 once more.The Mavericks responded by going on a 15-2 run of their own to tie the game at 57. Chandler was immense on the defensive end and even J.J Barea played a part in frustrating the Heat defensively. It was 67-64 heading into the crucial fourth quarter.
As it has in the previous two games, it would once again come down to execution down the stretch. Nowitzki was able to score 12 straight points for the Mavericks and 15 of the Mavericks 22 points in the fourth quarter. Wade would answer by scoring seven straight points for the Heat. With the game tied at 86 the Mavericks made a concentrated effort to keep the ball out of James and Wade's hands and that left Chris Bosh wide open on the baseline and he he hit the game winning jumper with 39 seconds to go.
The Mavericks were able to win the battle of the boards 42-36 without the presence of Haywood which is a good sign. Chandler and Nowitzki picked up the slack nabbing 11 rebounds a piece. They were also able to win the bench battle 25-19. However, Jason Terry's production was nearly matched by Mario Chalmers. Terry scored 15 to Chalmers' 12. And that 15 points came on a very inefficient 5/13 shooting. Barea continued to struggle in this series as he shot 2/8 for the game. Coming into this series the Mavericks' bench had to severely outplay the Heat to have a chance, they have not.
The Heat's defense has been magnificent through two games but the Mavericks' multitude of unforced turnovers needs to stop in a hurry. Kidd and Barea had four turnovers each. Kidd has particularly struggled in this series shooting 35% from the field and averaging four turnovers a game.
Nowitzki shouldered the load offensively, finishing with 34 points but received no help from his teammates. After averaging 18 points through the first two games, Marion fell back to earth by going 4/12 from the field and scoring ten points. Kidd didn't' provide much help as he finished 3/8 for nine points. Combined with the efforts of Barea and Terry, it was a one man show for the Mavericks. In the fourth quarter, Nowitzki went 4/7 from the field and a perfect 6/6 from the line while the rest of the team went 3/11 from the field and did not attempt a free throw. The Mavericks were +23 with Nowitzki on the floor and -31 with Nowitzki off the floor.
The Mavericks will need Haywood back in game four but it will not matter if they are not able to generate enough offense to help support Dirk's efforts in this series and continue committing careless turnovers.
Game four is Tuesday night at 8:00 CT.