The Miami Heat defeated the Dallas Mavericks 92-84 in Game One of the NBA Finals behind a combined 46 points and 19 rebounds from LeBron James and Dwyane Wade. Dirk Nowitzki led Dallas with 27 points but was limited to 7-for-18 shooting.
What was the difference in Game One?
LeBron James and Dwyane Wade. When at least two of the big three have solid games, the Heat are very tough to beat. While Bosh had an off-shooting night (5-for-18), James was solid all night. He hit several end-of-the-shot-clock shots including two big three-pointers. Wade picked it up in the second half (15 second-half points) as he took the ball strong to the basket and his outside shot started to fall. The two were a combined 6-for-9 on three-pointers, were solid on the boards and played tough defense all night.
Miami's defense on Dirk Nowitzki. The Heat double-teamed Nowitzki almost every time he caught the ball, forcing him to give it up. Dirk led the game in scoring with 27 points, but they were not easy points.
Rebounding. Miami out-rebounded Dallas 46-36, including a 16-6 margin on the offensive boards. Wade, James and Bosh all hit the glass hard combining for 29 rebounds. Bosh had five offensive boards among his nine rebounds. The Mavericks need to have better success on the boards if they are to have any success in the series.
Dallas's bench was outplayed by the Heats' bench. The Mavericks need production from their bench to win this series. This is particularly important as the Heat are defending to get the ball out of Nowitzki's hands. Other guys need to step up. That didn't happen in Game One. The Mavericks bench was outscored by Miami's bench 27-17. Dallas' four bench players (Terry, Barea, Stojakovic and Haywood) combined to shoot 4-for-22. Jason Terry scored all his 12 points in the first-half. Barea was 1-for-8 and couldn't finish. Stojakovic missed three three-pointers, all good looks. Miami had nice games from Chalmers, Haslem and Miller and even Juwan Howard contributed a solid seven minutes.
If the Mavericks are going to make this a series, they need to be more aggressive on the boards and players not named Dirk Nowitzki need to step up. Otherwise, the championship trophy will reside in South Florida.