Mavs try to even NBA Finals in Miami
(Sports Network) - The Miami Heat hope to hold serve on the shores of Biscayne Bay tonight as they host the Dallas Mavericks in Game 2 of the NBA Finals.
Like they have so many times this postseason, LeBron James and Dwyane Wade picked up their play down the stretch during Game 1 on Tuesday and Dirk Nowitzki and the Mavs didn't have an answer.
James, Wade and Chris Bosh combined to score 65 points in that one as Miami pulled away in the second half for a 92-84 victory over the Mavericks.
Nowitzki scored 27 points despite tearing a finger tendon in his non-shooting hand, including 10 in the fourth quarter as he tried to keep his team close. But the Mavericks were held to an uncharacteristic 37.3 percent shooting for the game.
James scored 24 points, Wade had 22 with 10 rebounds and Bosh cooled down in the second half to score 19 for Miami, which snapped a 10-game losing streak to Dallas that dated all the way back to the 2006 Finals.
The Heat didn't shoot much better than Dallas -- 38.8 percent for the game -- but they were a little bit better in the second half, hitting at 41 percent as they jammed their foot on the pedal for some distance.
"We just needed to lock in," said James.
Jason Terry, Dallas' second best scoring option, had an even tougher time than Nowitzki, finishing just 3-of-10 on the night for 12 points and missing a pair of big shots in the fourth quarter when the game was in doubt. In fact, "The Jet" didn't even score in the second half when James was using his size to make things very difficult for him.
The diminutive J.J. Barea had similar problems trying to deal with Miami's perimeter length, hitting a dismal 1-of-8 shots for two points.
While most have swooned over James' monster shots in tight situations this postseason, his true progression in these playoffs came on the other end of the floor. His willingness to check Chicago's Derrick Rose down the stretch is something that never happened in Cleveland. Now, Terry is in the former MVP's sights.
"That's not our style of basketball," Terry said of the Mavs' offensive struggles. "They did a good job of playing their tempo, and they finished at the end when they needed to."
Perhaps the signature play of Game 1 also started at the defensive end when Wade raised up to block Mavs forward Shawn Marion on a jumper, then hit a three-pointer over Jason Kidd on the left side that gave Miami an 82-73 lead with barely three minutes to play.
"Two-way player. That's what we expect of him," Miami coach Erik Spoelstra said of Wade,
Nowitzki suffered a torn tendon on the middle finger of his left hand, his non-shooting hand, in the closing moments when he tried to swipe the ball from Miami's Chris Bosh.
"I couldn't straighten my finger out any more," Nowitzki said after the game, although an X-ray showed no broken bones. "It was just a freaky play. I have to wear a splint probably for the rest of the playoffs, for a couple of weeks. But it will be all right."
Knowing Nowitzki, the injury will not affect him but that grinding through a torn tendon isn't going to solve the Heat's defense. Getting out in transition and keeping Miami off the offensive boards could help, however. The Heat grabbed 16 caroms off the offensive glass which helped them secure a playoff- high 11 threes as the Mavs scrambled to get to the shooters.
"What really killed us were the offensive rebounds," said Nowitzki. "We were out of position a lot. Especially in the fourth quarter, there were two or three in a row. That really hurt us."
Now, it's all about adjustments for Dallas coach Rick Carlisle and his staff.
This time, instead of devising ways to stop James and Wade from scoring, a more prudent approach may be finding ways to solve them at the defensive end.
"We got to play better overall. We have to be opportunistic," said Carlisle. "They were more opportunistic than we were. And that's been one of the traits of our run."
Nowitzki wore a splint on his injured finger at practice on Tuesday and was encouraged when he didn't feel much soreness.
"I think once the game starts, the adrenaline starts flowing, I don't think it will really slow me down much," the All-Star said. "I'm not really worried about it."
On the injury front for the Heat, sharpshooter Mike Miller was able to practice Tuesday after injuring his left shoulder and arm during game 1. Miller was seen leaving the arena after Game 1 with the arm in a sling but has been listed as probable.
The series is a rematch of the 2006 NBA Finals, when Wade and the Heat beat Nowitzki's Mavericks in six games after falling behind 0-2 in the series. It was the only other time either franchise made the Finals.
Game 3 of this set shifts to Dallas on Sunday.
06/02 10:36:49 ET