Dallas wins series 4-2 (Game 1 of 6)

Dallas wins series 4-2

Game 1: Tuesday, May 31st
Game 2: Thursday, June 2nd
Game 3: Sunday, June 5th
Game 4: Tuesday, June 7th
Game 5: Thursday, June 9th
Game 6: Sunday, June 12th

Mavericks 84

(57-25, 28-13 away)

Heat 92

(58-24, 30-11 home)

    Coverage: ABC

    9:00 PM ET, May 31, 2011

    AmericanAirlines Arena, Miami, FL

    1 2 3 4 T
    DAL 17 27 17 2384
    MIA 16 27 22 2792

    Top Performers

    Dal: D. Nowitzki 27 Pts, 8 Reb, 2 Ast

    Mia: L. James 24 Pts, 9 Reb, 5 Ast, 1 Stl

    LeBron James, Dwyane Wade step up in 4th, stake Heat to 1-0 Finals lead

    Associated Press

    MIAMI -- Dwyane Wade's night began with a hug for his mom. It ended with an embrace from LeBron James.

    Nearby, Chris Bosh held up three fingers.

    No explanation necessary. The Miami Heat are three wins from the reason why the Big Three came together in the first place.

    James scored 24 points for his first win in five NBA Finals games, Wade scored 15 of his 22 points in the second half and the Heat beat the Dallas Mavericks 92-84 in Game 1 of the title series on Tuesday night -- holding the Western Conference champions to their lowest point total of the playoffs after a dominant defensive showing down the stretch.

    "Feels good because it's the first game and we played well as a team," James said. "We've got a lot of work to do. ... That's one in the books. We're excited about this game. Tomorrow we prepare for Game 2, and I see ways we can get better."

    Dirk Nowitzki scored 27 points -- tearing a tendon in the middle finger on his left, non-shooting, hand during the game and revealing afterward that he'll likely wear a splint throughout the remainder of the series -- and grabbed eight rebounds for Dallas, which got 16 points and 10 rebounds from Shawn Marion and 12 points from Jason Terry, most of those coming in an early flurry. It was Dallas' fifth straight loss to Miami in Finals games, dating to the Heat rally for the 2006 crown.

    Dallas held the Heat to 39 percent shooting, Miami's second-worst showing of the playoffs.

    Problem was, the Mavericks shot 37 percent -- by far, their worst night of the postseason offensively.

    "You hold a team to 38 percent shooting and 92 points, for us, that's usually a victory," Marion said.

    Sure enough, Dallas had been 7-2 when holding teams to those kind of numbers this season. Game 2 is Thursday in Miami.

    "We're a veteran team," said Nowitzki, who had a postgame X-ray on the finger that was injured when he was stripping the ball from Bosh. "You can't get down with a loss. You've got to come back strong on Thursday. I've said it a couple times in this playoff run, if you're the road team, you're happy with a split. So we've got another opportunity on Thursday to get one. Obviously, we don't want to go home down 0-2."

    Wade's 3-pointer with 3:06 left put the Heat up 82-73, then the largest lead of the game for either team. The Mavs shaved two points off it on the next possession when Nowitzki hit two free throws, but James gave the Heat their first double-digit lead of the Finals a few seconds later.

    He dribbled upcourt against Marion, crossed his dribble over and got clear for a dunk while being fouled. The free throw made it 85-75, and most in the sellout, white-clad crowd began standing in anticipation.

    Even then, it wasn't over.

    Nowitzki made two more free throws -- he was 12 for 12 from the line for the game -- with 1:36 left, cutting the Miami lead to six.

    A momentary blip.

    "They have two very good closers," Nowitzki said, "two of the best in the game."

    Wade grabbed a key defensive rebound, dribbled away from three Dallas pursuers and found Bosh for a dunk with 1:08 left that restored the 10-point lead. Another dunk by James came with 38.6 seconds left, sealing the outcome.

    "For me, going into the fourth quarter, it's winning time," James said.

    Sure was, and the Heat fans knew it, breaking into their now-traditional tossing of their white seat covers.

    "By and large, we've got to play better, just overall," said Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle, especially noting Miami's 16-6 edge in offensive rebounds.

    Miami outrebounded Dallas 46-36, got a gritty effort on both ends from reserve Mike Miller -- who left with his left arm in a sling, but insisted he would be fine -- and reaped rewards again from another strong fourth-quarter finish by Wade and James.

    "That's who they've been their entire careers," Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said.

    Bosh scored 19 points and Mario Chalmers added 12 for the Heat. The Heat trailed by eight points early in the third quarter before pulling away, remaining unbeaten -- now 9-0 -- at home in these playoffs and snapping Dallas' five-game road postseason winning streak.

    Dallas had 51 points after 26 minutes. The Mavericks scored 18 points in the next 18 minutes and 33 over the remainder of the game, as Miami's defense found another gear.

    "That's kind of the way we've been winning games, of late," Wade said. "You've got stay with it. You can't get frustrated because the ball's not going in. There's other ways you can dominate the game and we was able to do that tonight. I thought we did a great job in the second half of rebounding the ball, limiting them to one shot as much as possible."

    Take away the 2006 NBA Finals, and Dallas came into Game 1 having beaten Miami 14 straight times. The only team that has lost to any team more times consecutively is Minnesota, which finished with the NBA's worst record this season. The Timberwolves have lost 16 straight to San Antonio and Portland, and 15 straight to the Los Angeles Lakers.

    In the Finals, it simply doesn't seem to matter.

    "We'll play better. I'm very certain of that," Carlisle said. "We had some opportunities. Shots we normally make, they didn't go down. Look, it's a long series. We'll adjust."

    Wade -- the hero of that 2006 championship -- found himself with a couple extra minutes before tipoff because of an unusually long delay after the starters were introduced. So he went looking for inspiration. He screamed at his teammates, "Don't say, 'I wish I woulda,' " in the huddle before they took the court, his way of telling them not to leave anything in the proverbial tank during this series.

    And then he slowly trotted to the other end of the court, pointed to his mother Jolinda in a baseline seat and gave her a hug as many in the crowd roared. He usually blows her a pregame kiss. On Tuesday, that wouldn't suffice.

    "We both said, 'Here we go. We're here again. We're back,' " Wade said.

    Both teams expect to ride defense in this series, and that was made perfectly evident in the opening 12 minutes. The teams combined to take 35 shots in the first quarter -- and made 10.

    Dallas led 17-16 after the first quarter, which was the lowest two-team output in the first quarter of Game 1 of a Finals in the shot clock era, according to STATS LLC. It tied the fourth-lowest total for any Finals quarter since 1955, bettering only the 30 points by the Magic and Lakers in Game 2 in 2009, and the 31 posted by the Jazz and Bulls in 1998's Game 3 along with the Lakers and Celtics in 1969's Game 4.

    Everyone was struggling, maybe a little because of nerves, and mostly to do with the defensive intensity on both ends. James was 3 for 6 in the first quarter, while the rest of the Heat were 3 for 15. Half of Dallas' four first-quarter baskets were 3-pointers by Jason Kidd, the team's 38-year-old point guard searching for his first NBA title.

    And the Mavericks had one -- that's right, one -- 2-point basket in the game's first 15:49, with 10 of their first 18 field goal attempts coming from 3-point range.

    "We really didn't play well at all tonight," Terry said. "First quarter, 17 points and third quarter, 17 -- that's not our style of basketball. Give them credit. They disrupted our tempo and they finished at the end."

    Dallas opened the third quarter by scoring seven quick points, all on jumpers, the burst ending with DeShawn Stevenson's 3-pointer with 10:03 remaining in the period -- pushing the Mavericks' lead to 51-43 and silencing a building that was still refilling after halftime.

    "He had three days to shoot that and we didn't get anybody near him," Spoelstra said.

    That was quickly fixed, and the rest of the third was largely all Miami.

    "For the most part, we think we had chances to get a hold of this game," Marion said. "And we let it get out of our hands."

    The Heat outscored Dallas 22-10 in the remainder of the quarter. Wade started the rally -- just as he did in a series-saving effort for Miami in Game 3 of the '06 Finals, giving the memorable "Nah, I ain't going out like this" quote afterward -- with two layups. And James beat the clock at the end of the period with an off-balance 3-pointer from near the Dallas bench for a 65-61 Miami lead.

    "It's one game, and that's it," Spoelstra said. "We're already moving on."

    Game notes

    In his annual state-of-the-league address before Game 1 of the Finals, NBA Commissioner David Stern was asked about a number of topics, including again about how James, Wade and Bosh all ended up in Miami last summer. "I don't consider it colluding," Stern said. ... James picked up two fouls in the first quarter, the fourth time that's happened in the playoffs. It happened four times in the entire regular season. ... In a scene reminiscent of the 2006 NBA Finals, the first time Wade went to the foul line Tuesday night, Mavs owner Mark Cuban stood to argue that he traveled. ... Juwan Howard was guarding Kidd after a switch on a screen in the first half, odd only because both were top-five picks in the 1994 NBA draft.

    Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press


    Team Stat Comparison

    Points 84 92
    FGM-FGA 25-67 (.373) 31-80 (.388)
    3PM-3PA 9-22 (.409) 11-24 (.458)
    FTM-FTA 25-32 (.781) 19-26 (.731)
    Rebounds (Offensive-Total) 6-36 16-46
    Assists 18 20
    Turnovers 11 12
    Steals 6 5
    Blocks 8 4
    Fast Break Points 12 7
    Fouls (Tech/Flagrant) 22 (0/0) 21 (0/0)
    Largest Lead 8 12

    Top Performers

    Dirk Nowitzki Nowitzki
    Points: 27
    Reb: 8
    Ast: 2
    Stl: 0
    Blk: 0
    LeBron James James
    Points: 24
    Reb: 9
    Ast: 5
    Stl: 1
    Blk: 0

    Research Notes

    Coming into the NBA Finals, the Mavericks had been very good in the 4th quarter of their last two series against the Lakers and Thunder. The team averaged nearly 28 points on 47 percent shooting and outscored its opponents by an average of 4 points. Unfortunately for them, they ran into a Heat defense that had been equally as dominant. So what happens when a stellar offense meets a stellar defense? If Game 1 is any indication, Dallas is in trouble.
    One key for the Mavericks all season has been its bench production. Dallas is 18-4 when its bench scores at least 50 points and 9-11 when held under 30 points.
    In contrast to the Mavericks, the Heat win largely whenever their Big 3 show up. When LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh combine to score at least 75 points, Miami is 31-3 including a perfect 4-0 this postseason
    The Mavericks bench entered Tuesday averaging over 39 points per game this postseason while shooting an efficient 45.8 percent from the field. They managed just 17 points in Game 1 while shooting a combined 4-22 from the field, including just one made basket from inside the three-pt line.
    The Mavericks made only 21 of their 61 (34.4 percent) field goal attempts in the half court, including 12 of 29 inside 10 feet. It was Dallas worst shooting performance in the half court this postseason and only the second time that they shot under 40 percent (May 25 against Thunder shot 37.9 percent).
    Dirk Nowitzki was 6-12 from the field in Game 1 when single-covered, but just 1-6 from the field when Miami provided help. The players who provided help against Nowitzki were Miami bigs (Chris Bosh, Udonis Haslem). Overall, Nowitzki was doubled on 13 of 35 total touches (37.1%) in Game 1.
    After struggling to shoot from outside with the Cavaliers in the 2007 Finals (17.0 FG pct), LeBron James made 5 of 10 field goals from beyond 10 feet Tuesday, including 4 of 5 from 3-point territory. The four made three-pointers matched his total from the 2007 Finals, when he made only 4 of 20 attempts in the entire series.
    The Heat won the Offensive rebound battle 16-6 over the Mavericks. The 16 offensive rebounds were the 2nd most the Heat have gotten in any game this postseason and fourth time they have gotten 15 or more offensive rebounds. It was also the second most offensive rebounds allowed by the Mavericks in any game this postseason. While it didn't necessarily lead to an advantage in second chance points (Mavericks actually outscored Miami 16-15 in that department) it did lead to the Heat taking 13 more shots. In a game in which both teams shot under 40 percent the extra field goal attempts were huge. Expect this trend to continue as this is the 11th time in 16 games that the Mavericks have lost the battle on the offensive boards. Surprisingly though in the previous 10 such games they won the game.
    The Heat bench outscored the Mavericks bench 27-17 in Game 1... This marked just the 8th time in 98 games (including regular and postseason) that the Heat bench outscored their opponents... The 10-point margin was their largest margin this season
    Entering tonight, Mavericks bench had averaged 39.4 PPG (591/15) and Heat bench 18.1 PPG (272/15) this postseason Through 3rd quarter Heat bench is actually outscoring Mavs bench 17-16 On average, the Heat's bench has been outscored 9.7 PPG this postseason while the Mavs bench have been outscoring opponents by 3.3 PPG

    ESPN Stats & Information