Great defensive effort gives Heat Game 1 victory

One down...three to go.

You could feel the electricity inside the American Airlines Arena before the opening tipoff even if you were watching the game on TV.  While they get a lot of flack, Heat fans really know how to turn up the juice, and that building can get really loud.  As the game got underway, you could see that the Mavs were a little thrown by the defensive intensity of Miami.  Dallas had yet to see a defense as good as the Heat's, and at least early in the game they had a hard time adjusting. 

As the quarter went by the Mavs did seem to make the proper changes and started generating wide-open looks, and that led to a couple of triples from Jason Kidd.  The Heat didn't help their own cause, hitting just one field goal over the last 4+ minutes of the 1st.  Dallas closed the opening quarter on a 9-3 run and took a 17-16 lead as the nether team shot the ball well in the 1st.  Both teams shot the same 28.6% from the field, not the way either of them wanted to start the NBA Finals.

Following Jason Terry and Mike Miller trading treys, the Heat and Mavs each went almost 3 minutes without a field goal at the beginning of the 2nd.  Miami held a slim lead for a good part of the quarter but a late 7-0 run by Dallas put them ahead by 3.  Mario Chalmers hit a pair of triples in the span of 62 seconds to close out the half, and the Heat went into the break trailing by 1. 

The Mavericks opened the 2nd half on a 7-0 run and for a while just seemed to be content sitting on the lead.  Miami slowly trimmed the lead back down, getting the deficit down to just 2 with 4½ minutes left but then missed three straight 3-pointers instead of driving with the ball.  I realize it's not easy to drive on a team playing zone defense, but if you move the ball well then lanes will open up. 

Miami closed out the 3rd quarter quite nicely, outscoring the Mavs 9-4 over the last 2:33 including a long triple by LeBron at the buzzer to give the Heat a 65-61 lead.  James hit a pair of 3-pointers at the end of the quarter and at that point was 4-for-4 from downtown.  Miami held Dallas to 61 points on 36.5% shooting through 3 quarters, and the Mavs are the highest scoring team in the playoffs.  What does that say about the Heat defense? 

As the 4th quarter went by, Miami was doing a good job keeping the ball out of Dirk Nowitzki's hands and forcing other guys to make shots.  The Heat were also putting points on the board, maintaining their slim lead throughout the first half of the quarter.  Following a DeShawn Stevenson 3-pointer that got Dallas within 3 with 8:03 left, Miami turned up the defense big time.  They held the Mavs without a field goal for over 4 minutes and build their lead back up to 7.

Dwyane Wade and LeBron James took the game over down the stretch, coming away with big shots every time the Heat needed one and not allowing Dallas to get back in the game.  They combined to cap the game with an awesome ally-oop from Wade to LeBron in the final minute that brought every fan out of their seat and had the banners hanging from the roof shaking from how loud it was. 

This marked the first time in the postseason that Dallas lost a Game 1 and the first time that they've trailed in a series.  Miami was great defensively, holding the top scoring playoff team to their lowest shooting percentage (37.3%) and 2nd lowest point total (84) of the postseason.  Dallas scored just 40 2nd half points, and that's after starting the 3rd quarter on a 7-0 run.  All week you've been hearing that the Mavs hadn't yet seen a defense as good as Miami; now they have, and this is the result.  

GAME NOTES

  • The Heat is now 9-0 at home during the playoffs.
  • Dallas' bench made just 4 of their 22 shots.  They were outscored by Miami's bench 27 to 17 and out-rebounded by the Heat 15 to 8. 
  • Chris Bosh had a rough night shooting the ball (5-for-18) but still came away with 19 points and 9 boards.  He made 9-of-12 from the charity stripe.
  • Coming alive in the 2nd half was Dwyane Wade.  He had just 7 points on 3-for-10 shooting in the 1st half before making 6-of-9 after halftime, finishing with 22 points, 10 rebounds, 6 assists and 2 blocked shots. 
  • LeBron led the Heat with 24 points, grabbing 9 rebounds and adding 5 assists and a steal. 
  • As a team Miami went 19-for-26 from the foul line, but allowed Dallas to go 25-of-32.  It's not often when the Heat allow their opponent to get more free throws then they take. 
  • Miami took a lot of shots from beyond the arc, going 11-for-24 from downtown.  Their playoff high for 3-pointers made is 12, but they might beat that with all the open looks they're likely to get against the Mavericks zone defense. 
  • Mike Bibby went 0-for-4 from the field and while he's played decently on the defensive end, he's been just awful shooting the ball.  During the playoffs he has made 26.3% from the field and 24.5% from downtown. 
  • Dirk Nowitzki admitted after the game to having a torn tendon in his left middle finger.  We'll see if that affects him during the series.
  • The Heat had 16 offensive rebounds and finished with 46 total boards, 10 more then Dallas.

Game 2 from the AAA is Thursday night with tipoff set for 9pm.  Our good friend SNOOP97DAWG put together a nice highlight reel of Game 1 and I've posted it below. Enjoy the video and the 1-0 series lead.

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