Entering the NBA Finals, Dirk Nowitzki and the Mavericks knew that they would have to be the aggressor, pound the glass and hit shots to beat a Miami Heat team that had not yet lost at home in the playoffs. They did none of those things in Game 1. The tide will be even tougher to turn in Game 2, but the resilient Mavs have to feel like they can't play much worse. Miami held Dallas to 37% shooting and outrebounded them 16-6 on the offensive glass on the way to a 92-84 victory in the opener.
To add injury to insult, Nowitzki tore a tendon in his left middle finger late in the fourth quarter. He is convinced that the injury won't inhibit him much and is considering not even wearing a splint. For the Heat, Mike Miller is battling a shoulder problem but also expects to be fine for Thursday. Dallas will still be without Caron Butler, who hopes to play later in the series. Butler is now five months removed from tearing his patellar tendon.
Dallas will look to match Miami's dogged pursuit of rebounds and loose balls and will hope to continue their edge at the free throw line. The Mavs also need to see improvement from their bench, which has given them a big advantage in the first three rounds but was outscored 27-17 and outshot 36%-18% in Game 1.
Game 2 of the NBA Finals tips Thursday night in Miami at 8 p.m. CDT on ABC. Local radio is ESPN 103.3.