The Dallas Mavericks playoff journey began by outdueling the Portland Trail Blazers, sweeping the reigning champions Los Angles Lakers in the semis, and defeating a young Oklahoma City Thunder squad in the Western Conference Finals.
The Larry O’Brien Trophy was now four wins away. The only thing standing between them and the title was a blast from the past: the Miami Heat.
This version of the Miami Heat were as hatable, if not more, than the 2006 team that stunned the Mavs in the Finals. Lebron James, who decided to take his talents to South Beach, and Dallas native Chris Bosh joined forces with Dwyane Wade. The trio (and 2/3 of the Banana Boat Gang) went on to the lead the Heat to a 58-24 record, good for second in the Eastern Conference.
One tidbit I found interesting prior to the first game was since Game 6 of the 2006 Finals, Dallas had beaten Miami ten straight, including twice during the 2010-11 season. None of that mattered as odds-makers had the Heat as heavy favorites at home.
The game started off slow as both teams were trying to get into a groove. After a James and-1 put Miami up 11-5 midway in the quarter, Jason Kidd knocked down a couple of huge threes cut the lead down to two. The Heat were dreadful on offense early, shooting only 28 percent in the first quarter allowing the Mavs to take a 17-16 heading into the second.
Both teams picked up the scoring in the second as they combined for eight trays in frame. With under a minute left in the half, Jason Terry appeared to give the Mavericks a four-point lead after nailing a three. Moments later, however, The pride of Alaska, Mario Chambers, answered with a corner three to make it 44-43 going into halftime.
The Mavs looked like they were about to take control of the game as a DeShawn Stevenson three-ball put Dallas up 51-43. But Lebron and company would put the clamps down on D, holding the Mavericks to 10 points for the rest of the quarter as the Heat took the lead 65-61 going into the final quarter.
The teams traded buckets in the early stages of the quarter, but the Heat proved to be too much for the Mavericks in the Finals opener. The exclamation point for Miami came in the final minute as Wade drove down the lane and found James on the baseline for a two-handed slam to cap off the win.
Dirk Nowitzki led all scorers with 27 points and eight boards. Nowitzki injured himself in the game as he tore his tendon in his left hand. James finished his night with 24 points, which would end up being his highest point total in the series.
Although the result wasn’t what they wanted, the Mavericks showed they could hang with Miami and deserved more respect than what was given to them.
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