Final: Heat 92, Mavs 84. The Heat have put together yet another stellar second-half effort, including multiple exclamation-point dunks in the final minutes, one from Chris Bosh and then a killer from LeBron James.
Bosh and LeBron have each won an NBA Finals game for the first time in their respective careers. They earned it — Bosh gives the Heat 19 points, nine rebounds and three assists, while LeBron tops him with 24, nine and five. For Dwyane Wade, it's 22, 10 and six.
Who needs a supporting cast when you've got three guys this good?
Dirk Nowitzki can't beat the Heat alone. He gives the Mavs 27 points and eight boards, shooting a perfect 12-of-12 from the line, but he needs help.
He'll try to find it on Thursday night, when these two teams reconvene for Game 2 at American Airlines Arena.
Fourth quarter, 1:08, Heat 89-79: That's just devastating. Dwyane Wade gets the rebound off a Jason Kidd miss, pushes it like a madman, and finds Chris Bosh downcourt for a dunk. Game over.
The Big Three have been larger than life in this fourth quarter. Forget about Wade's shoulder. He's perfectly fine.
Fourth quarter, 1:36, Heat 85-79: Two more free throws for Dirk Nowitzki. He's now 12-for-12. He's a machine.
The Mavs are back to within six. They can stay alive if they string together multiple stops right now. It'll require extraordinary focus and effort, but it's not impossible.
Fourth quarter, 3:06, Heat 82-73: Wade is back. First he stuffs Shawn Marion on a mid-range jumper; then he turns around and devastates the Mavs on the other end, drilling a 3 in Jason Kidd's face. For the first time tonight, the Heat are up nine.
The Heat have been fourth-quarter killers all postseason long. They're not about to let up in the Finals.
Fourth quarter, 4:35, Heat 75-70: Much to the chagrin of the Miami crowd, Tyson Chandler has elicited foul number four from LeBron James. He gets to the line and cuts the Heat lead to five.
This thing's still far from over.
Erik Spoelstra needs a timeout. He's got to keep his guys focused for 275 more seconds.
I wonder how many times he'll use the word "grind" in this pep talk…
Fourth quarter, 6:36, Heat 74-69: Big play by Udonis Haslem, getting into the paint and taking in a pass from Chris Bosh with perfect timing. Up and in. Basket and the foul.
The Heat are up five. In a moment, Haslem will try to make it six.
The Mavs are going to need an awful lot of Dirk heroics to steal this one.
Fourth quarter, 8:43, Heat 70-66: Nice drive-and-kick play by Wade to open up a smooth mid-range jumper for Udonis Haslem. Swish.
Wade might not be his usual self, but he's adjusting well on the fly. If he can't attack the hoop, he can at least act as a decoy and create opportunities for his teammate.
Haslem now has four points, which is exactly the size of Miami's lead with under nine minutes left to play.
Fourth quarter, 9:28, Heat 68-66: Not Chris Bosh's finest moment. The Miami power forward tries to drive right at Dirk, but Dirk stands his ground and Bosh falls to the floor. That'll be a shot-clock violation.
Dirk has four of the Mavs' first six points in the fourth quarter, and he's playing solid D to boot. Yep, this is another one of those games. You can't count this guy out until the final buzzer.
End of third quarter, Heat 65-61: Two big moments for the Heat at the end of the third quarter: First Juwan Howard sneaks into the game and knocks down two free throws, his first two Finals points in his long, long, long NBA career. Then LeBron James beats the buzzer with a dagger of a 3-pointer, his fourth of the game.
The Heat are now in position to hold on and win this thing. They're 12 minutes away.
LeBron now has 19 points, six rebounds and five assists to lead the Heat; Shawn Marion is pacing the Mavs with 13, nine and four.
Can the Heat finish strong? Game 1 is now theirs to lose.
Third quarter, 2:58, Mavs 57-55: Blown possession after blown possession. First Jason Terry makes an insane cross-court pass to Peja Stojakovic for a wide-open 3; Peja bricks it. Then Udonis Haslem has a clear path to the basket on the other end, but he travels.
Don't let the "defense wins championships" psychobabble fool you. This is just two good teams making a bunch of mistakes. Both teams are capable of executing better than this.
Third quarter, 5:41, Mavs 57-53: Shawn Marion is channeling his inner Dirk, knocking down impossible jump shots. Marion's now got 13 hard-earned points.
His last two games, this one and the Mavs' Game 5 clincher against Oklahoma City, have been fantastic. Dallas needed a third offensive star to step up next to Dirk and Jason Terry, and it looks like they've found one.
Third quarter, 8:00, Mavs 53-48: Dwyane Wade has tweaked his wrist and reverted back to his old jumper-settling self. In his stead, Chris Bosh takes over and starts attacking the basket for the Heat.
Bosh gets to the line again. He's got a team-high 13 points now, going on 14 or 15. The Mavs haven't been able to stop him from getting to the rim.
Third quarter, 10:04, Mavs 51-43: The Mavs open the third quarter on a tear — Shawn Marion knocks one down, then Dirk, and then DeShawn Stevenson, who's wide open with all the time in the world for a wing 3. It's a 7-0 run to start the quarter.
I don't think Dwyane Wade has touched the ball yet. LeBron James has, but only to miss a layup.
Miami's in trouble.
Halftime, Mavs 44-43: Mike Miller gets a good look at a 3 at the final buzzer before halftime, but it clanks out. The Mavs retain a one-point lead at the break.
Biggest reason why? Sorry to oversimplify, but Dirk is being Dirk. The big German has 14 points including 4-of-4 from the free-throw line. He's the biggest reason the Mavs have the lead.
The Heat have gotten 13 points from Chris Bosh and 10 from LeBron James. Mario Chalmers has been a surprise off the bench, knocking down three 3s.
Second quarter, 1:27, 38-38: Dirk Nowitzki is turning it on, but the Heat are raining 3s to keep things close. Mario Chalmers knocks one down, tying the game at 38.
The Heat are 5-for-12 from 3-point range; the Mavs are 5-for-13.
Second quarter, 4:14, Heat 33-29: Dwyane Wade for 3. That's huge. Maybe now the Heat captain starts to turn it on.
Wade's got seven points, but he's still only 3-for-9 from the field. He's also not attacking the basket like the Heat need him to.
But hey, draining that 3 is a good start.
Second quarter, 6:22, Mavs 26-25: Shawn Marion gets inside for a layup off the backboard, putting the Mavs in front. It's the sixth lead change of the quarter.
Here's a question: Are we watching extremely good defense, or just putridly bad shooting? It's gotta be one or the other. The Heat are shooting 32.3 percent, and the Mavs are at 28.0.
Neither team has established a steady presence in the middle yet. If not for the Mavs' 3-point shooters, they might still be in single digits.
Second quarter, 8:23, Mavs 22-21: Two more free throws from Dirk Nowitzki, putting the Mavs back in front. Dirk is now 4-for-4 from the line.
Dirk's an 88.8 percent free throw shooter in the postseason for his career. Not too shabby, huh?
Second quarter, 10:22, Heat 21-20: The benches are trading 3s. First Jason Terry knocks one down for Dallas, and now Mike Miller nails one to put Miami back in front.
Maybe the Heat are starting to stumble into some depth. Miller is the first non-Big Three player to score so far in Game 1. That's a start.
Terry has carried the Mavs to a 9-3 advantage in bench scoring.
End of first quarter, Mavs 17-16: Miami's Big Three has been reduced to a Big Two so far. Hence their pretty pathetic offensive output through 12 minutes — only six points.
Dwyane Wade is only 1-for-5 from the field so far. He's struggling to find his aggressive self. But LeBron James and Chris Bosh have combined for 14 points so far, keeping the Heat competitive.
The Jasons, Kidd and Terry, have six points each for the Mavericks. Shawn Marion has four rebounds, an assist, a steal and a block.
First quarter, 3:03, Heat 13-12: More trouble for Wade, as the Heat guard misses two free throws. He's really struggling.
The Heat have held onto a slight lead despite back-to-back 3-pointers from Jason Kidd. The wily 38-year-old veteran is holding his own, but it hasn't been enough so far against LeBron and Bosh.
First quarter, 5:30, Heat 10-5: The Heat are being physical with Dirk early. Their game plan is obvious — push him around, force him to fight back. So far, it's working. Dirk just collided with LeBron James and ended up being whistled for his first foul.
It looks like Rick Carlisle is going to dip into his bench first. Jason Terry's about to check in for DeShawn Stevenson.
First quarter, 7:04, Heat 8-5: Wade gets an easy backdoor cut for an apparent layup, but he passes it up and kicks the ball back out again. He ends up settling for an off-balance floater in the lane.
The Heat somehow have an early lead despite starting 3-for-10 from the field. Wade individually is 0-for-4.
Miami should be happy to play a "defensive struggle"-type Game 1. That's their ballgame.
First quarter, 9:16, 4-4: Wade turns the ball over, and the Mavs come down the floor and quickly pound the ball inside to Dirk. Boom, boom, boom, he draws a two-shot foul. He mkaes two.
Wade's off to a slow start. He's got to play with strength and confidence, shoulder injury or not. In the Finals, you leave it all on the line.
First quarter, 11:42, Heat 2-0: The Heat win the opening tip, and it takes them 18 seconds to get on the board. LeBron James makes a nice entry pass to find Chris Bosh in the paint, and Bosh quickly draws a foul from Shawn Marion. He hits two shots.
Will Marion be guarding Bosh for most of the night? That would be a surprise. He's got "LeBron stopper" written all over him.
9 p.m.: After much suspense, Heat coach Erik Spoelstra has announced that he's sticking with Joel Anthony as his starting center for Game 1 against the Mavericks.
Good move. Coach Spo needs a guy inside who can protect the rim and make things difficult inside for Dirk Nowitzki. Forget offense from the center position — the Heat need toughness.
Game 1 is coming up next. Seven months of hoops, and one of the most memorable seasons in NBA history all comes down to this. Get ready.
8 p.m.: The big question going into Game 1 for the favored Miami Heat: What's the status of Dwyane Wade?
The Heat's superstar guard insists that there's nothing wrong with his surgically repaired shoulder, but there's evidence otherwise. He's been seen with the shoulder heavily taped over the last week, and he missed a practice Sunday.
He says he's ready to go now.
For Miami's sake, he'd better be right.
10 a.m.: These same two teams met in the NBA Finals five years ago, but the scenario was a little different.
Dirk Nowitzki was 27 years old, and he was sorely lacking for a supporting cast in Dallas. He fought as hard as he could for six games, but it just wasn't enough.
Dwyane Wade was 24. He played out of his mind from Game 3 on, and he brought Miami its first championship.
Now we get a rematch. The Mavericks and Heat are back in the NBA Finals again. Dirk has been joined by Jason Kidd, Shawn Marion and Tyson Chandler, a group of same-minded veterans all determined to win their first championship. Wade has teamed up with LeBron James and Chris Bosh, both of whom took their talents to South Beach last summer.
We're about to find out what happens in round two. The Heat are desperate to win again; LeBron and Bosh are still looking for their first title, and this one would validate all the drama that surrounded their arrival in Miami last summer. The Mavs want this one too — their whole nucleus is championship-starved.
It all starts on Tuesday night. The Heat host the Mavs in Game 1, 9 p.m. at American Airlines Arena.
Powered by WordPress.com VIP