Dallas Mavericks' Dirk Nowitzki aims at the basket as Miami Heat's Dwyane Wade defends during the second half of Game 1. (Photo: AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)
Game 1 of the NBA finals is in the books and it doesn’t look very promising for the Dallas Mavericks.
In a game that was close for three quarters, the Miami Heat pulled away from the Mavs in the end for a convincing 92–84 win Tuesday night to take a 1–0 edge in the title series.
LeBron James continued to show he is taking his game to another level as he scored 24 points in his first ever NBA Finals win. Dwayne Wade was also spectacular in the distancing final two quarters, scoring 15 of his 22 points in the second half.
Mavs star forward Dirk Nowitzki had a fairly strong night with 27 points, but he missed some wide open looks in the fourth quarter as the deficit mounted. Making matters worse, after the game Nowitzki revealed he suffered a tendon tear in the middle finger of his left non-shooting hand, but his shot may be altered by the splint he will try to wear.
The problems for the Mavs on Tuesday night, however, were poor 3-point shooting and the lack of production from its bench. The Dallas reserves, led by sixth man Jason Terry, contributed just 17 points. Terry, the Mavs second-leading scorer, scored 12 points in the first half and none the rest of the way.
Bench scoring became the difference because if there is an area the Mavs should be stronger than Miami it’s their bench. Clearly that wasn’t the case in game 1.
"We rely on our bench a lot. They are a big part of our game," Jason Kidd said to reporters afterward. "Tonight they just didn't shoot the ball well."
Dallas’ front-line players don’t have the firepower to match Miami’s Big Three, which makes it imperative that the Mavs get better production from its bench Thursday night to steal a road game in the series.
It will be interesting to see if the Heat implements the same strategy that worked to perfection Tuesday night, putting the 6-foot-8 James on 6-foot-2 Terry in the second half. James locked up Terry as he was called on to do against Derrick Rose in the Eastern Conference finals series with the Chicago Bulls.
"If I need to be on Terry or anyone on their team, I try to take the challenge," James said to ESPN. "It's never me just guarding someone individually. But I do take the challenge on any individual matchup that I'm against.
"And tonight happened to be Terry mostly in the second half."