With game 1 in the books, a Miami Heat win, let's break down four reasons why the Heat got the W at the end of the fourth. Hint, hint…one of the reasons has No. 6 in it.
Defense, defense, defense
The Miami Heat, much to the surprise of almost everyone, aren't lighting it up offensively. They don't have to because their defense has been so smothering that close games late turn into a comfortable win almost automatically. In game 1, Miami held the hot shooting Mavericks to just a pedestrian .373 shooting percentage and kept them scoreless during a pivotal 3 ½ minute stretch in the fourth quarter.
They aren't allowing teams to score…period.
In fact, you have to go back to game 1 of their matchup with the Bulls to find a game where they allowed more than 89 points in a game. With that kind of defensive intensity, red flags are going up across the NBA.
"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."
The Miami Heat has finally found their identity in the playoffs. They are a defense first team who keeps games close till the fourth. When that quarter arrives, it's time for Dwayne Wade and LeBron James to do that thing they do, which is closing out games. You have to give James some credit for realizing he's not a closer, a fourth quarter assassin, in his own right. But with Wade at his side he can do his thing when it's needed and let Wade do all the real work. Together, these two are damn near impossible to stop down the stretch in close games.
"They have two very good closers," Nowitzki said of James and Wade, "two of the best in the game."
Dirk no-showed hardcore.
You know, it's not often you can get down on a guy that scores 27 points but I'm gonna make an exception in this case for Dirk. During the Mavericks playoff run, the whole focus has been on Nowitzki, to the point where there have even been Larry Bird comparisons, and he has lived up to the hype for the most part. But his 7 for 18 shooting performance in game 1 was very, very disappointing and coupled with his inability to elevate the play of his teammates and you got what happened, a loss.
The plus side, however, is that this is only game 1 and the goal of the Mavericks is to get out of Miami with a split, which is still possible. Of course the news that Nowitzki is going to have to wear a splint on a finger of his non shooting hand for a torn tendon isn't going to help matters much for Dallas's cause.
"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."
The Final Score
This is obviously the main reason that Miami is up 1-0 in this Finals series. At the end of the game, the Heats 92 points were more than Dallas's 84 and that gets you a W, no matter how the game went. Miami won a game where they didn't look good, except for the defensive end, and they won a game where their less than deserving fan base made this more like a road game than a home game. If Dallas couldn't pull out a win in these conditions, it's gonna be rough for them to win any at Miami.
"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."
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