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.
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Guard Jason Kidd, who has the second most assists in NBA history, will be instrumental in getting the ball inside to Nowitzki, where he can score from anywhere. On the other side of the ball, Mavericks’ center Tyson Chandler will need to grab rebounds while staying out of his usual, chronic foul trouble.Skip to next paragraph
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Kidd, forward Shawn Marion and guard Jason Terry have to force the turnovers with the same efficiency they managed most recently against Oklahoma City. However, Dallas will have a much more difficult time guarding the Heat because of the three weapons they have. In Dallas’s series against Oklahoma City, forward Kevin Durant, and to a lesser extent, guard Russell Wesbrook, could be double-teamed with effectiveness. But the scoring proficiency of Miami’s Wade, James and Chris Bosh makes this strategy much riskier.
No one matches up with the Mavericks in their ability in making the extra pass to an open man. Ball handlers J.J. Barea, Jason Terry, and DeShawn Stevenson should get some good looks around the arc as a result, and if Dallas continues their solid pick-and-roll play, the speedy Barea may prove to be a factor.
But, in a playoff series, with all else being equal and everything on the line in the final few minutes, you’ve got to have clutch players. In Dallas’s case, it’s all about getting the ball to Nowitzki in the final ticks. As for Miami, one of the main reasons they assembled the triumvirate of James, Wade and Bosh was to give them extra options at crunch time, and they have performed extraordinarily well at this.
Dallas will have to hold Miami’s transition points down by slowing the pace, and not only getting the ball in to Nowitzki, but by being patient on the perimeter so that Terry and forward Peja Stojakovic can make it into double figures, scoring.
Have no illusions, Miami has the greatest amount of pressure on them to win a title. Dallas is trying to avenge their humiliating 2006 Finals loss to Miami, and with the experienced team they’ve assembled, are fully capable of preventing the kind of embarrassing implosion they experienced in that series five years ago.
This Dallas team is probably the best ever assembled. They’re patient and resilient - and with a successful veteran coach in Rick Carlisle, have demonstrated greater motivation down the stretch and unlike in past years, have generally avoided collapsing in the clutch. This is their best chance for winning over Miami’s lofty expectations, and that’s why Dallas takes the title in seven games.