The amped up crowd in Dallas didn't seem to phase the Heat at the beginning of the game as Miami matched the Mavs shot for shot in the first few minutes. Both teams shot the ball well, but the Heat turned things up when Dirk Nowitzki wen to the bench about half way through the quarter. Dallas had a 3-point lead at the time, but Miami closed the opening period on an 18-8 run which gave them a 7-point lead after 1.
The Heat was getting to the rim much better in this game then they had been in Miami, which was hopefully a sign of things to come. They seemed to get pumped up when Chris Bosh was poked in the eye by Jason Kidd and was on the floor for a minute seemingly in a lot of pain, though he would be ok. The quarter was capped off by Mario Chalmers hitting a shot at the buzzer right after crossing the halfcourt line.
Miami came out on the 2nd quarter like gangbusters, led by an extremely inspiring performance by Dwyane Wade. He finished the half with 19 points on 8-of-13 shooting, helping the Heat at one point go up by 14. As we have seen them do throughout the playoffs, Dallas battled back, closing the half on an 11-2 run to shrink the deficit down to 5 at the break.
The first five minutes of the 2nd half was as streaky as you can get, with Miami starting on an 8-0 run which Dallas quickly responded to. They went on a 17-3 run that was sparked by some great defense and hustle, and suddenly the Mavs were holding a 1-point lead. It didn't last long as LeBron and Mario Chalmers hit back-to-back treys, followed by a Jason Terry triple, and just like that the game had resumed its ‘blow for blow' mode.
As had been the case after the 1st and 2nd quarters, Miami held the lead following the final buzzer of the 3rd, taking a slim 3-point lead into the final quarter. That's when this game went into overdrive, and without getting into it too much because I don't like to focus on officiating, it felt at times that the Heat were battling both the Mavericks and the refs because the one-sidedness of the foul calls was something that I cant recall seeing in any game Miami has played this season.
The first minute of the quarter saw the Heat briefly go up by 5, but Dallas quickly tied the game. It seemed like every time one team would make a run, the other would respond immediately with one of their own, and that happened a couple times in the 4th. Miami went on 7-0 run after Dallas tied the game at 72, and with 6½ minutes left in the game the Heat held a 7-point lead.
That's when Dirk Nowitzki absolutely took the game over for the Mavericks. He scored 4 quick point to get Dallas within 3, then following a clutch triple by D-Wade, Nowitzki put up 6 straight points in just over a minute to tie the game at 84 with 2½ minutes left. Dwyane and Dirk then traded buckets and we went into the final minute with the game tied and the ball in Miami's hands.
The Heat looked to be having another tough possession but LeBron James made a great pass to Chris Bosh, who hit a huge baseline jumper with 39 seconds left that would prove to be the game winner. Dallas would get two more chances on offense to tie the game and both times the ball would end up in Dirk's hands. The first time he was forced into a turnover, throwing the ball out of bounds.
He would get one more chance with 4.4 seconds left, but Udonis Haslem played superb defense and while we've seen Nowitzki made tough shots before, this one didn't fall and the Heat came away with the amazingly stressful victory. Udonis played him so close that he had barely any room to move, but didn't foul, very similar to the way U-D played Derrick Rose on that last play in the Eastern Conference Finals.
D-Wade had a monster 1st half with 19 points and 6 boards, then finished strong after a quiet 3rd quarter. Wade scored 7 straight points leading up to Chris Bosh's game winner, finishing with 29 to go along with 11 rebounds, 3 assists, a steal and a block. Dwyane also finished the game with zero turnovers, something he hadn't done the entire postseason.
- In his last two games, D-Wade is averaging 32.5 points on 60.9% shooting, with 8.0 rebounds, 4.5 assists and 0.5 turnovers.
- LeBron seems to be playing passive overall. He showed signs of aggression with a couple huge dunks and some nice drives but still only took 14 shots, finishing with 17 points, 9 assists, 3 boards and 2 steals while going just 4-for-4 from the foul line.
- Chris Bosh wasn't that great for most of the game but still hit the biggest shot of the night, and possibly his career, with 39 seconds left. He actually had more points (18) then LeBron, but had just 3 rebounds.
- As a team the Heat took just 15 free throws while Dallas took 27.
- Scoring 12 big points off the bench was Mario Chalmers. They all came from downtown, as he hit 4-of-6 from beyond the arc.
- Miami is averaging just 10.6 turnovers per game in the Finals.
- The Heat also took less 3-pointers last night, putting up ‘just' 19, hitting 8 of them, which isn't a terrible percentage (42.1%). They had put up 24 and 30 in Game's 1 and 2 respectively.
- Teams don't usually win when losing the rebounding battle (42-36 Dallas) and taking less free throws then their opponent (27-15 Dallas), but Miami pulled it off.
- The Heat outscored Dallas in the paint 40-22.
The stat that everyone is clamoring about is that since the NBA went to the 2-3-2 format, there had been 11 series' (before this year) where it was tied 1-1 after 2 games. Each time, the team winning game 3 went on to win the Finals. We'll see if that holds true for a 12th time after the Heat's big victory last night in Dallas. Game 4 is coming up on Tuesday night at 9pm. Until then, enjoy this one...