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NBA Finals, Heat Vs. Mavericks: Game 1 Thoughts

The Miami Heat defeated the Dallas Mavericks 92-84 to take a 1- 0 series lead in the NBA finals. The game began and 18 seconds into the game Tyson Chandler picked up his first foul. Not the start the Mavericks were looking for. It was a slow start for both teams. Stevenson forced James into an early air ball and it was a defensive struggle early on. With the offense stagnant Jason Terry checked into the game at the 5:30 mark. The spacing dramatically improved and Kidd hit back to back threes to get the offense back on track. Jason Terry exploded to the rim and attempted to posterize Lebron James, he failed but succeeded in getting Lebron James in foul trouble as he picked up his second foul on the attempted block. The Mavericks took a 17-16 lead into the second quarter. In the second quarter it was Chris Bosh who continued to make an impact on the game. Bosh finished the half with 13 points and seven rebounds, including four of the offensive variety. Additionally, when the Mavericks went to a zone defense Mario Chalmers was able to get loose for a few threes. Chalmers went 3-5 from three and finished the first half with 10 points. After another sluggish start in the second quarter, the Mavericks scored on eight straight possessions to close the half and took a 44-43 lead into the break.

The Mavericks carried that momentum into the third quarter and went on a 7-0 run extend their lead to 51-43.  The Heat called a timeout and immediately began to attack the basket. Wade made two straight driving layups and Chandler picked up his third foul on his second drive and Miami had cut the lead 53-51. And then the game became stagnant once more. For both teams, but the Mavericks in particular. After the 7-0 run, the Mavericks scored six points in the next six minutes. To put the capper on an awful stretch by the Mavericks, James drilled a three at the buzzer to give the Heat a 65-61 lead going into the fourth quarter.

The Mavericks started off well in the fourth quarter with a couple of Dirk drives and after a Stevenson three pulled them within 72-69, the offense went stagnant again. They went four minutes without a basket in the fourth quarter before a Chandler freethrow and yet, Miami was unable to pull away. Until they called a timeout. Following the Chandler freethrow, the Heat called a timeout and put the game out of reach. They stretched their lead to ten and that was it. An alley-oop from Wade to James put the finishing touches on their 92-84 win.

This is the first time the Mavericks have trailed in the playoffs but I don’t see any reason to panic.

Dirk Nowitzki struggles with his shot going 7/18 but still finished with 27 points by attacking the rim and getting to the free throw line 12 times. He hit all 12, of course. But the game was lost on the boards and by the benches.

The Mavericks were outrebounded 46 to 36 and the Heat had ten more offensive rebounds than the Mavericks. For a team with the distinct size advantage, that’s inexcusable and can not continue moving forward. After rolling through the playoffs thanks to the terrific play of their bench, the Mavericks’ bench laid a dud in game one. They were outscored 27-17. Brutal. Chalmers and Miller were left wide-open on busted zone coverages and hit a few threes and Haslem hit a couple of shots for them but it was Juwan Howard’s contribution that really irked me. Howard played eight minutes and got three offensive rebounds. And that’s all about effort. The Mavericks will need to hit the boards a lot harder if they expect to win this series. That falls to Tyson Chandler who had a particularly awful game. Chandler went 3/4 for nine points but was only able to snag four rebounds. He also lost his composure at times and committed silly fouls, he has to improve and I have no doubt that he will.

Peja Stojakovic, J.J Barea and Jason Terry were not any better. Stojakovic has not been able to find his stroke since his perfect shooting display against the Lakers and was blowing defensive assignments on almost every possession. If Peja can not find his stroke, he should not be on the floor.  J.J Barea was able to get open looks and penetrated at will at times, he just couldn’t finish going 1-8 from the field. After starting the game 2/2, Terry finished 3/10. He rushed shots at times but again, most of them were open looks and they will begin to fall eventually.

All in all, it could have been a lot worse. The Mavericks were severely outplayed in all facets of the game and were still within six in the fourth quarter. James and Wade were held relatively in check and only paid seven trips to the freethrow line. Attack the boards, better bench play, close out on threes and they should have a great chance to steal game two.

Game 2 is Thursday night at 8 p.m. CT on ABC.

Photographs by jamesbrandon, jdtornow, phlezk, flygraphix, mcdlttx, tomasland, and literalbarrage used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.