A few seasons ago, Dirk Nowitzki and the Dallas Mavericks defeated LeBron James and the Miami Heat in the 2011 NBA Finals. Fast forward to 2014 and the Heat are back-to-back champions who are looking to add a third ring to their collection. The Mavericks are simply fighting for a playoff spot in the Western Conference.
James has elevated his level of play since that Finals series and he displayed some of it on the Tuesday night. In the first game back since All-Star break, James lead the Heat to a fourth-quarter comeback victory in Dallas, 117-106. The reigning MVP led the way with 42 points on 16-23 shooting while hitting 4-8 from three-point range, grabbed nine boards, dished out six assists and had two steals. There is simply no hope for beating Miami when he plays like this.
The other two pieces of Miami’s big three also played well. Chris Bosh scored 22 points on 8-12 shooting and grabbed five boards. Dwyane Wade scored 13 points and dished out seven assists.
Mario Chalmers and Chris Andersen were big for the Heat. Chalmers scored 10 points and had nine assists. Birdman scored 18 points on 7-9 shooting off the bench.
As a team, the Heat shot 57.1 percent from the field and had 29 assists.
Nowitzki was by far the best player for the Mavericks. The future Hall of Famer scored 22 points, grabbed nine boards and dished out seven assists. He shot 7-14 from the floor and went 7-7 from the free-throw line.
The rest of his teammates struggled as the team shot 40.0 percent for the game and turned the ball over 16 times. Monta Ellis shot just 4-13, Brandan Wright shot 5-13 and Vince Carter went 2-9. Carter was the team’s second leading scorer as he made 10 of his 11 attempts from the free throw line.
If Miami hopes to win another championship they will have to improve in a couple of areas. Their defense as a whole has been significantly worse than in the last two seasons. They need to become a better rebounding team; Dallas won the battle on the boards 50-28. The Heat will also need to play with more sustained focus and energy throughout each game.
For the Mavericks, they will need to keep playing tough and with a lot of effort if they hope to clinch a playoff spot in the Western Conference.