Dirk came alive when it counted while the Heat fell apart.
This is the NBA Finals, so obviously you'd expect the Mavericks to come out with a fire lit under their butts after losing Game 1 on Tuesday. That's why an early 10-2 run didn't surprise me at all, though I was a little surprised when Dirk Nowitzki went to the bench just 5 minutes into the game and I had to wonder if it had anything to do with his injured left middle finger.
Miami responded to the Mavs early run by going on an 8-1 run of their own, erasing the early Dallas 6-point lead and going back in front. Dirk came back in late in the quarter as the teams were going back and fourth with the scoring. Point were coming a bit easier in this game as even Mike Bibby surprised us all by hitting his first two 3-pointers. Game 1 saw Dallas and Miami score 17 and 16 points respectively after the 1st quarter but in this game they put up 28 points apiece and went into the 2nd with the game tied.
The Heat went cold for the next few minutes, scoring just 6 points in the first 5+ minutes of the 2nd quarter, which allowed the Mavericks to go up by 6. Dwyane Wade ended that by scoring 3 straight field goals in just over a minute, but every time they got close Dallas extended their lead right back. It didn't help that Miami's first free throws of the game came with 5:24 left in the 2nd quarter, and on top of that they started 0-for-3 from the line.
A Shawn Marion layup with exactly 3 minutes left gave the Mavs a 9-point lead which led to a timeout and some cranked up Heat defense. Dallas was in the penalty and Miami took advantage, getting to the line more frequently and scoring their next 6 points from the charity stripe. A D-Wade triple in the final minute capped the 9-0 run and the Heat came back to tie the game at 51 heading into the break, holding the Mavs without a point in those final 3 minutes.
Three quick Dallas turnovers at the beginning of the 2nd half led to 6 fast break points for the Heat, giving them their largest lead of the game at 5. At the halfway point of the quarter the Mavs had battled back and gotten to within two points of Miami, but once again the Heat did a good job of distancing themselves from their opponent. Mike Bibby hit a couple of 3's, giving him four on the night, and the Heat went on a nice little 7-0 run to extend their lead to 10.
Dallas woke up at the end of the quarter as Dirk and Jason Terry scored 4 points each as the Mavs forced two turnovers and closed on a 10-4 run to trim the Heat lead down to 4 heading into the final 12 minutes. Shawn Marion cut it down to 2 with a quick bucket in the 4th, and that's when Miami started a huge run. Dwyane Wade scored 9 points that included a few sick highlights as the Heat went on a 13-0 run to go up by 15 points with just over 7 minutes left in the game.
As we have seen throughout this years playoffs, you can never count out the Dallas Mavericks. Just when you think the game is over, they come right back and stun you with an amazing run. They did that in this one, going on a ridiculous 17-2 run to tie the game with 56 seconds left. It was a string of horrible offensive possessions for Miami, continuously chucking up bad three pointers and running poor plays. Dirk was absolutely clutch for Dallas, scoring their final 9 points including a layup in the final seconds to win the game.
The Heat's defense on the final play was just as bad as it was in the final minutes of the game. They had a foul to give, but instead left Chris Bosh alone on Nowitzki, didn't foul him and were late to help on the back end, giving him the easiest layup you'll ever see in an NBA Finals game with the game tied and under 10 seconds left. Talk about a choke job...all I can say is this better inspire Miami to play amazing on the road because a game like this could potentially be a back breaker.
- Chris Bosh had a forgettable game, going 4-of-16 from the field, finishing with 12 points and 8 boards.
- Dwyane Wade had a breakout game, which will hopefully carry over to the rest of the series. He scored 36 points with 5 rebounds, 6 assists, 3 steals and 2 blocks.
- Mike Bibby also had a wake-up game, hitting four 3-pointers to go with 4 steals. On the flip side, he had just 1 rebound and no assists.
- Lebron was decent, finishing with 20 points, 8 rebounds, 4 assists, 4 steals and a block, but turned the ball over 5 times and overall needs to have a better game at this stage of the season.
- As a team Miami's free throw shooting was pretty crappy. They hit just 16-of-24.
- It's not good that the Heat took way more 3-pointers (30) then free throws (24).
- Mario Chalmers big triple in the final minute was his only one out of 6 tries.
- Noticeably hurting was Mike Miller, who missed all 3 of his shots while grabbing 4 boards in just 14 minutes.
- Dirk Nowitzki came away with 24 points on 10-of-22 shooting, but as I said he scored the Mavs final 9 points in the 4th quarter. Guess we should stop worrying about his hurt finger...
Now we have 3 days to stew on this one before Game 3 in Dallas on Sunday night. This will either act as a huge wake-up call for Miami and they will come back with a vengeance, or it will be a demoralizing occurrence that proves all the haters and doubters right. Those of us who have watched this team all season know that they will probably turn this into a positive learning experience, but we still have to sit on this collapse and wait to see what happens.