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NBA Finals: Miami’s defense KO's Mavericks in Game 1, 92-84

The Miami Heat's aggressive perimeter offense and suffocating defense collaborated to defeat the Dallas Mavericks Tuesday night, 92-84, in Game 1 of the NBA Finals.

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And when Dallas got the ball into Nowitzki, or on the outside to Jason Terry or DeShawn Stevenson, they were hurried into shots by the Heat’s suffocating defense. In particular, during the second half, LeBron James was assigned to guard Terry, and that further complicated Dallas’ point production.

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In fact, for the night, Dallas shot only 37% from the floor. Not even a double-double by Shawn Marion (16 points/10 rebounds) could rescue the Mavericks’ anemic offense. Miami, for their part, set a balanced offensive attack, led by James (24 points), Wade (22 points), and Bosh (19 points). Second-year guard Mario Chalmers, using the easy shooting style that made him a star at the University of Kansas, chipped in 12 off the bench for the Heat. And Mike Miller, the ten-year veteran forward from the University of Florida, added six crucial points during the third period to get the Heat even-up with Dallas.

The Mavericks, as the game progressed, were increasingly flummoxed by Miami’s defense in the paint. Speedy guard JoseJuan (J.J.) Barea, who scored 21 easy points in one game driving against Oklahoma City’s big men, could only make one of his eight shots. His floaters and layups were persistently contested and either wound up as airballs or just grazing the iron.

And if Miami previously had no idea of how to keep Dallas’s made free throws to a minimum, they found out how to do it last night: just get Mavericks’ center Brendan Haywood to the line. Hitting only 36% of his free throws in the regular season, Haywood managed to make only 3 of 6 down the stretch – and looked pretty bad at it.

Rick Carlisle, the Mavericks’ head coach, seemed to express his team’s frustration when he complained to the referees about one Miami fan waving a large flag behind the basket when Haywood was trying to shoot. But all theatrics aside, this was a game Dallas would just as soon forget. When you play the other team’s game, you get beaten. It’s that simple.

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