Remember all those struggles Miami had in close games earlier this season? At one point, the Heat were an anemic 1-8 in close games (games decided by five points or less). In the postseason, the Heat have solved their end-game issues – LeBron and Wade jointly takeover, and the opponent is powerless.
It happened three times in the Chicago series, and again last night. Miami only led by four with four minutes left, but pulled away late behind the dynamic duo of LeBron (24 points, 9 rebounds, 5 assists) and Wade (22 points, 10 rebounds, six assists) and the Heat lead the NBA Finals 1-0.
Dirk led the Mavs with 27 points, but he was just 7-of-18 shooting, perhaps due to a tendon injury he suffered to his middle finger. He’ll wear a split on his non-shooting hand the rest of the series. In the last nine games against the Lakers and Thunder (eight wins), Dirk shot under 50 percent just once.
He got some help from the Matrix (16 points) and Jason Terry (12 points, 3-of-10 shooting), but Dallas shot just 37 percent. The Mavs attempted to play some zone defense, but it was futile because the Heat made 11-of-24 three-pointers, and were able to collect 16 offensive rebounds. There’s no way the Mavericks are going to win this series if the Heat shoot better from deep, win the offensive rebounding battle, and LeBron/Wade get theirs. Did I mention Chris Bosh scored 19 points?
After LeBron put on a show against the Bulls at the end of game two, every game has felt as if the Heat were in control, regardless of the score. Even that 12-point lead in the 4th quarter by Chicago in game five felt tenuous (Miami rallied to victory). I’m not sure how Dwight Howard or Chris Paul can watch this and think of anything but teamming up in some capacity. It has to be done. If not, the Heat are going to rule the NBA for the next 3-4 years (barring injury, of course).