City Sports Report

Miami Heat Take 1-0 Finals Lead on Way to NBA Championship by Derrel “Jazz” Johnson

The Dallas Mavericks led the Miami Heat 44-43 at half time, and opened the second half with a 7-0 surge that gave them a 51-43 lead with 10:03 left in the third quarter on a three pointer from shooting guard DeShawn Stevenson.  At this point of the game, many Dallas Mavericks fans felt their team had control of the game.  But after a timeout by
Heat head coach Eric Spoelstra, Dwyane Wade and LeBron James led a 22-10 run for the duration of the quarter that gave the Heat a 65-61 lead going into the fourth quarter.  James scored 9 points and Wade put in 8 points during the run.  The Mavericks would get no closer than two points in the fourth quarter, as the Heat went on to a 92-84
win that gives them a 1-0 lead in the NBA Finals.

The Heat were led by LeBron James with 24 points, 9 rebounds and 5 assists, while Dwyane Wade added 22 points, 10 rebounds, 6 assists and 2 blocked shots. Chris Bosh chipped in with 19 points and 9 rebounds, while Mario Chalmers came off the bench to add 12 points.

The Mavericks were led by Dirk Nowitzki with a game-high 27 points and 8 rebounds, while Shawn Marion added 16 points, 10 rebounds, and 4 assists. Jason Terry came off the bench to add 12 points, all in the first half.

Dirk Nowitzki suffered a torn tendon on a finger on his left hand, his non-shooting hand.  In the NBA Finals, there is no way on God’s Green Earth that this will keep a player like Nowitzki from playing the rest of the series.

The Miami Heat have shown, consistently, that they have the ability to impose their will on other teams defensively in the fourth quarter.  That, combined with the big play ability of James, Wade, and Bosh will make it hard for the Dallas Mavericks to win this series.

One of the advantages most thought the Dallas Mavericks had going into the series, bench scoring, was erased by the Miami Heat.  The Heat outscored the Mavericks bench 27-17, and if the Mavericks, who start a weak offensive team, have to rely on their starters for more production, this series will be over quickly.

The Miami Heat have experienced a tumultuous season of ups and downs in the first season of the Big Three on South Beach.  Ever since “The Decision,” in which LeBron James chose to take his talents to South Beach with Chris Bosh to join Dwyane Wade, there has been a lot of pressure on the team to win it all.  Some of it was self-inflicted, as
LeBron talked about the three winning numerous championships together, but a lot has seemed vitriol, not only from NBA fans, but from media as well.

The Heat started the season 9-8, and many of their detractors were critical of the team.  Then they went on to win 12 in a row, and 21 of 22, and the supporters were joyous.  Then came the infamous CryGate, in which Heat head coach Eric Spoelstra said one of the players was crying in the locker room.  Instead of weakening the team, it has
seemed to be a rallying cry. Since CryGate, including the playoffs, the Miami Heat have gone 28-6, and another three wins will make them the 2010-2011 NBA Champions.

The Dallas Mavericks got to the NBA Finals in a completely different manner.  The Mavericks started the season well, winning 12 in a row and 17 of 18 in the first two months of the season.  Then starting small forward Caron Butler went down, and the team struggled.  They went on a season-long six-game losing, before recovering for another
long streak of 10 wins in a row, and 18 of 19 toward the end of the season.

Still, the Collapse of 2006 follows the Dallas Mavericks, in which they lost four in a row to the Miami Heat after leading the NBA Finals series 2-0 and having a double-digit second-half lead in game three.  There are only two players on each team who played in the 2006 NBA Finals, Dirk Nowitzki and Jason Terry for the Mavericks, and Dwyane Wade and Udonis Haslem for the Miami Heat, but the label of soft has stayed with the team.  (Eric Dampier played in the series as well, but is on the Miami Heat roster now.)

So why do I think the Miami Heat will be victorious in three more games to win the series, which pits two of the seven NBA MVPs who have yet to win a championship? (Charles Barkley, Allen Iverson, Karl Malone, Steve Nash, and Derrick Rose are the other five, joining Nowitzki and James.)  Udonis Haslem earned the title of “Dirk-stopper” from Heat fans in the 2006 Finals. In six games, Dirk Nowitzki shot only 31 percent from the field on 13-of-42 shooting with Haslem defending him.  I am not expecting Haslem to defend Nowitzki this well, but he will have more success containing him than any other team in the NBA playoffs.  In game one, Joel Anthony spent a lot of time guarding Nowitzki as well, who shot 7-18 from the field.

On the other side of the ball, the Dallas Mavericks don’t have any great matchups against the Big Three of Miami.  Peja Stojakovic showed in game one that the only way he can stay on the floor is if the Dallas Mavericks are in a zone, as he doesn’t have the ability to
guard any of the Miami Heat players one-on-one.  Tyson Chandler defended Chris Bosh, but that takes him away from the basket, weakening the Dallas defense and rebounding, as Chandler finished game one with only four rebounds.  Shawn Marion, at 33, will not be able to slow down LeBron James, as was shown with the 9-16 effort from James in game one.  Dwyane Wade also showed himself able to score against any Dallas defender in the clutch despite his 9-19 shooting night.

In the end, I see the Miami Heat defeating the Dallas Mavericks in six games.  Their great defense, combined with their talented offensive players will be too difficult for the Mavericks to contain.  If the Mavericks are somehow able to win the series, it is because the Miami Heat were unable to stop Nowitzki and the Mavericks three-point shooters buried their shots.  I don’t see that happening, but I do see a parade on South Beach and tears of joy.


  1. Mike

    June 2, 2011 at 1:08 am

    I’m gonna say that this series will go seven games. Wade and LeBron are very difficult matchups for the Mavs, but the other thing that’s interesting is the 2-3-2 format that the NBA Finals has. If the Mavs win Game 2, the series could take a turn.

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