The NBA Finals have begun, and the Miami Heat have drawn first blood as Wade, James, and Bosh proved to be too resilient down the stretch, beating the Mavericks, 92-84.
The series will resume on Friday, June 3, as the rest of the Dallas Mavericks not named Dirk Nowitzki try to wake up from what seems to be a mini-slumber, and steal one from these giants of South Florida.
On that note, here are some of our observations in Game 1:
1) Wade and James can and will turn it on when it counts the most
Superstars will be superstars, and that’s exactly what this duo showed especially during crunch time of Game 1 when the Mavs were still within range of stealing this game.
Instead of shrinking, these guys matched the gravity of the moment, and took turns dealing blows until they broke their opponents’ spirit.
Just from the top of our head, here’s what the duo did in those last few minutes: An ice-cold, off-balance three pointer by Wade, a power move to the basket by James capped off by a thunderous and-one slam, and a signature Wade-to-James alley-oop connection.
James finished with 24 points on an efficient 9/16 shooting clip, 9 rebounds and 5 assists, while his running mate, Wade scored 22 points, 10 rebounds and 6 assists.
2) Calling Dirk Nowitzki’s teammates, you are needed in the NBA Finals
Dirk won’t be able to win it alone. No one ever wins alone in this stage, and as dominating as the Big German has played up to this point, he’s going to need help from his teammates. He’s going to need them to show up, because in this first game, it seems like only Dirk (27 points, 8 rebounds), and Shawn Marion (16 points, 10 rebounds) had that Finals intensity.
Sure, the Heat defense was sharp and ruthless in the game and was able to hold the team to 37% shooting. But rarely did the rest of the Mavs showed enough desire to fight back.
3) Bench play
Before the series started, people were saying (or mainly, hoping ) that the Mavs’ deeper bench would be the key to beating the Heat. That wasn’t the case today.
On the Mavs side, Jason Terry, one of the best players off the bench, looked stiff and nervous as he made just 3 out of 10 shots from the field. The “Puerto Rican Tony Parker” J.J Barea scored just 2 points in nearly 20 minutes of playing, missing all his 8 shots but 1. These are two players that have provided a lot of spark in these Playoffs, and their showing in Game 1, simply just ain’t good enough.
The Heat’s bench, on the other hand, played better. Led by Chalmer’s 12 points, the Heat reserves totaled 27 points including timely contributions from Mike Miller, Udonis Haslem, and even Juwan Howard.
4) Peja Stojakovic is choking again
Stojakovic has a reputation for being a sharpshooter. He also has a reputation for not being able to keep it together in big games.
For game 1, Stojakovic chose to be the latter as he missed all of his three shots (all of them, three-pointers) in nearly 15 minutes of play. Way to cement your legacy there, old fella.
5) Wade still isn’t 100%
Sure the Heat won, and Wade, as we mentioned did turn the rockets on when needed, but for huge chunks of the game, he was drifting a bit. In those instances that he did drive hard, make the basket, and fall, it can be noticed that he was favoring his left shoulder. The coverage also showed Wade talking to the Heat’s head trainer a couple times during the game, seemingly checking if all was fine. And lastly, with the game in the books, Wade avoided a body bump by James, and instead offered a fist bump.
Could he be injured? Could that injury be a factor in the long run? He’s shown enough in Game 1 that he’s just fine, but you’ll never know what could happen, right? Game 2, Friday!