Dallas Mavericks vs. Miami Heat: A tale of two cities, and of expectations
The Dallas Mavericks face the Miami Heat Tuesday night at Miami's American Airlines Arena in Game 1 of the NBA Finals. The game will be televised, starting at 9 p.m., Eastern time, on ABC.
The Miami Heat, for all their bluster last summer about the number of championships they were going to win and talk about assembling the “greatest team” in NBA history, have gone about this season – and postseason – in a workmanlike fashion.Skip to next paragraph
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They owned a 58-24 regular season record, securing the second seed in the NBA Eastern Conference, and handily dispatched the Philadelphia 76ers, Boston Celtics, and the Chicago Bulls, owners of the league’s best record, in the the first three rounds of the playoffs. They are relatively young, and, rumors of an injury to Dwyane Wade’s shoulder notwithstanding, are largely healthy.
On the other hand, the Dallas Mavericks, with an average player age of 33, are one of the oldest teams in the NBA, and have had to struggle through two post-season series against Portland and Oklahoma City – though along the way they completely humiliated the Los Angeles Lakers in four games in one of the most lopsided playoff sweeps in NBA history.
They have matured as a group to the point where they fight through double-digit deficits to win where previously they might not have. The Mavs, with a 57-25 regular season record, are nearly evenly matched with the Heat, though Dallas won the two regular season meetings between the two teams.
They’ve accomplished much, even without the services of one of their very strongest players, guard-forward Caron Butler, who is not expected to see any action in the Finals. Jason Terry, in an interview earlier this week, said the team is dedicating their pursuit of the NBA title to Butler.
The Heat largely play a perimeter game. They love head fakes, and drawing fouls near or beyond the arc. They also are very fast off the transition, where LeBron James and Dwyane Wade excel in an open path to the bucket with virtually unparalleled athleticism. They have not been as strong inside the paint, where the Mavericks tend to excel.
Dirk Nowitzki, the Mavericks strong forward/center, can score from anywhere, and he is particularly strong at drawing fouls after posting up his defenders. When the two teams met in Dallas last November, the Mavericks won 106-95 - largely through the 48 points they scored in the paint. They will need to keep that pace up this series.