MIAMI, FL - MAY 31: LeBron James reacts after catching an ally-oop pass from Dwyane Wade in the fourth quarter while taking on the Dallas Mavericks in Game One of the 2011 NBA Finals (Photo by Larry W. Smith-Pool/Getty Images)
Following their impressive win in Game 1 on Tuesday, the Miami Heat will look to maintain their homecourt advantage and take a 2-0 lead in the NBA Finals tonight against the Dallas Mavericks. Isn't it nice that there is only one day in between the first two games of the series? Following the Eastern Conference Finals in which it took 8 days to play 3 games, this is a welcome change.
The first game of the series saw each teams point guards having a hard time. Dallas starter Jason Kidd did all right in the 1st half, hitting 2-of-6 from the field, while Heat starter Mike Bibby missed all 3 of his opening half shots. Neither of them did anything noticeable in the 2nd half though they didn't spend much time on the floor. Reserves Mario Chalmers and J.J. Barea got some minutes, but they were ineffective as well.
Chalmers hit three 3-pointes in the 1st half but missed a pair in the 2nd. Barea had made just 1-of-4 in the opening half but just like Chalmers, missed all his 2nd half shots and finished a poor 1-for-8 from the field. Miami went with their point guard-less lineup for the majority of the 4th quarter but the Mavs kept Barea out there, and as we all know the Heat would end up coming out on top. We'll see if either teams point guards step up in Game 2.
What will probably be the biggest story leading up to the game is Dirk Nowitzki's injured left middle finger. He suffered a torn ligament late in Game 1 when he tried to steal the ball from Chris Bosh, and now he will have to wrap the finger and wear a splint during games. It will certainly hinder his ability to handle the ball with his left hand as well as go after rebounds and steals. Dirk likes to go to his left when attacking on offense, but now this injury could really affect what he does with the ball.
Miami was already doing a solid job defending Nowitzki in Game 1, giving him a combination of different looks. Joel Anthony started the game on Dirk, but the Heat also threw Udonis Haslem and a bevy of double teams at the Mavs All-Star, and that led to him missing several shots that usually he'll make. Hopefully Miami can keep up that same defensive intensity and combined with his injured finger, render him a bit useless for the duration of the series.
One area that has been stellar for Nowitzki throughout the playoffs is his free throw shooting. He made all 12 of his foul shots in Game 1, which could act as the beginning of a streak similar to his lights out shooting from the charity stripe in the first three rounds of the playoffs. He made 56-of-57 in Round 1 against Portland, 15-of-16 in Round 2 against the Lakers and 59-of-61 in the Western Conference Finals against Oklahoma City. That equals 97.2%. That's sick.
- Miami has outscored their opponent in 5 straight 4th quarters, winning each game.
- At age 38, Mavs starter Jason Kidd is the oldest point guard to start a game in the NBA Finals.
- The Heat is now 9-0 at home during the playoffs and has a 10-game winning streak at the AAA dating back to last season, which is a franchise record.
- Miami is 6-0 in the postseason when trailing at the half. LeBron's answer for why...because those halftime deficit's haven't been very large.
- Udonis Haslem grabbed one offensive rebound in Game 1, which was his 138th, a Heat franchise record.
- Joel Anthony has recorded at least one blocked shot in 12-straight playoff games. Alonzo Mourning holds the franchise record at 16.
- The Heat has lost 14 consecutive regular season games to the Mavericks but has won 5 straight against them in the playoffs.
- Dwyane Wade will make his 83rd appearance in a playoff game for the Heat tonight, breaking Zo's record of 82 games.
- Mike Miller (shoulder) and James Jones (toe) are probable for Miami.
- As for Dallas, Caron Butler (knee) is out.
Tipoff from the AAA is set for 9pm and the game will be nationally televised on ABC. Both teams are looking to bounce back from ‘not so great' Game 1's. We'll see if either of them can, or if defense will once again conquer all. Lets Go Heat!!