Miami was looking simply invincible as Dwyane Wade drained a 3-pointer to put Miami ahead by 15 points midway through the fourth quarter. The Heat were everything Pat Riley imagined through three and a half quarter.
Wade and LeBron James were absolutely unstoppable on the fast break as the defense clamped down and took advantage of some sloppy play from the Mavericks and 18 turnovers.
Dallas though had been in this situation before. Maybe not to a team as talented and daunting as Miami can be. But familiarity can be a good thing.
The Heat went prevent as the turnovers dried up and the 3-pointers — many contested — refused to fall. Jason Terry broke out of his in-game slump and came alive. Suddenly, the Mavericks were back in the game. Suddenly Dirk Nowitzki did not look so injured anymore. Suddenly the premature celebrating from before the season and during the game seemed preposterous.
Suddenly, we had a series.
Dirk Nowitzki drained a 3-pointer to give Dallas an improbable lead with about a minute to play. Following Mario Chalmers’ game-tying wide open three off the ensuing inbound, Nowitzki went to work in the high post. He got past Chris Bosh on his left side and put in the game-winning basket gently with his injured left hand.
Dallas had improbably won 95-93, handing Miami its first home loss of this postseason and tying the NBA Finals series at 1-1.
While the Heat seemed to be parading to the rim on every turnover, the Mavericks simply hung around trying to avoid the knockout punch. It seemed to always be coming with Wade pouring in 21 of his 36 points (on 13 for 20 shooting no less — a 71.2 percent true shooting percentage for those counting at home) in the first half and Mike Bibby coming from nowhere to drain four of seven 3-pointers for 14 points.
But Dallas hung around. Maybe that run would come, maybe it would not. But the Mavericks were doing several of the little things they failed to do in Game One to pull out the victory.
Dallas won the glass 41-30, including 11-6 on the offensive glass correcting a major problem from Game One. Dirk Nowitzki had 11 rebounds to go with his 24 points. Guys like Shawn Marion and Jason Terry kept on grinding away waiting for a break through. Marion kept pace for Dallas with 20 points before Nowitzki and Terry took over late in the game.
The Mavericks had leads throughout the game, but the Heat just seemed able to surge past them and it always felt like just a matter of time. The final surge put the Heat seeming by a too comfortable margin.
But this Dallas team just knows how to grind and fight. And that should make for an interesting remainder of the series.
Photo via DayLife.com.