In a closely contested game of runs, the Miami Heat held off the Dallas Mavericks 88-86 to take a 2-1 lead in the NBA Finals. The Heat won in Dallas as Chris Bosh made a corner jumper with 39.6 seconds remaining for the final score of the game.
The Mavericks had two chances to tie or take the lead after Bosh's basket. First Dirk Nowitzki threw the ball away on a double-team with 30 seconds left. After LeBron James missed an end-of-the-shot-clock three-pointer, Dallas had one last chance with 3.8 seconds left. Nowitzki had a decent look from 20 feet. Although he was defended well by Udonis Haslem, it was a shot that Nowitzki regularly makes. He didn't this time, and Miami escaped with the win.
The difference in this game was the play of Dwyane Wade. The game became a shootout between Wade and Nowitzki. Late in the fourth quarter, Wade had seven straight points for the Heat while Nowitzki had the last 12 points of the game for Dallas. Wade was all over the floor, playing great defense, rebounding, hitting shots from outside and penetrating for inside baskets. Wade finished the game with 29 points on 12-for-21 shooting, 11 rebounds, three assists and no turnovers. Nowitzki was defended well most of the game, but still led the Mavericks with 34 points and 11 rebounds.
Mario Chalmers was the unsung hero of the game for Miami as he made several key three-pointers including a 36-footer at the close of the first period. Chalmers scored 12 points, making 4-of-6 on three-pointers. Neither LeBron James (6-of-14) nor Bosh (7-of-18) shot well for the Heat although Bosh made the big shot of the night,
Dallas reverted somewhat to their poor ball-handling of the first game and committed 14 turnovers, four more than the Heat. The Mavericks battled on the boards and enjoyed a 42-36 rebounding edge. Dallas's bench did not shoot well as they finished the night a combined 7-for-24 including 2-for-9 on three-pointers. J.J. Barea missed several good looks (1-for-5 on three's) and committed four turnovers, mainly on over-penetration, with only one assist.. It's great that he can get past his defender, but all that dribbling needs to result in points. It didn't tonight.
The contest was an exciting game of runs. Miami pulled out to a 45-31 lead with 2:50 left in the half. The Mavericks closed within 47-42 at the half. The Heat then pulled out to a 55-45 lead only to have Dallas tie it at 57. Miami took a 79-72 lead after three quarters on another Mario Chalmers three-pointer and led 81-74 with 6:13 left. Then the Mavericks made their last surge. The Heat won as they executed at the end of the game with Bosh's jumper while the Mavericks missed their two opportunities. The pressure will be on Dallas as Game Four, and arguably Game Five, are must wins for them.
Carl Berman is a Managing Partner of NetScouts Basketball. Carl and NetScouts Basketball can be followed on twitter @netscouts and @carlberman.