Heat return from All-Star break to visit Dallas

Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

The Heat are playing a Dallas Mavericks team that has surpassed expectations. That may be just the right team for the Heat to face now.

The Miami Heat haven't taken the floor since LeBron James nailed a step-back jumper over Andre Igoudala with two-tenths of a second left to seal a win over the upstart Golden State Warriors. That victory -- which gave Miami a measure of revenge for one of the Heat's rate home losses in January -- came without Dwyane Wade, who has recovered from his drop foot injury and even played for 12 minutes in the All-Star Game. Miami is no doubt happy to have Wade back.

The Dallas Mavericks -- still struggling to find a solid supporting cast since Tyson Chandler and J.J. Barea left after the 2011 title -- have somehow managed to stay relevant in the West. Dallas is currently sixth in the West at a respectable 32-22 and went into the All-Star break with an impressive road win against the Indiana Pacers. Somehow, with Monta Ellis as the star newcomer, the Mavericks are exceeding expectations.

Now, Dallas may be just the right opponent to motivate the Heat at this time. Miami has defeated the good teams in this current six-game road trip -- the Los Angles Clippers, Phoenix Suns and Golden State Warriors -- and lost to the last-in-the-West Utah Jazz. Moreover, the Heat players from the 2010-11 season still remember how the Finals ended. Why do you think the Heat haven't lost to the Mavericks since June 12, 2011? Miami squeaked by Dallas in an early-season home game Nov. 15, thanks largely to LeBron James' 39 points. The Heat will simply need to try to bottle what worked against the Clippers, Suns and Warriors and bring it against the Mavericks. Solid, crisp ball movement and commitment to defensive principles should get the Heat the win.




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