Dwayne Wade knocked down a three-pointer with just over seven minutes to go In Thursday’s Game 2, giving the Heat an 88-73 lead at the end of a 13-0 run. The basket gave Wade 36 points for the game but he never scored again and the Heat were outscored 22-5 the rest of the way, as the Mavs ‘stole’ Game 2 to make this NBA Finals a series. Wade would take just two shots in the game’s final seven minutes while Miami combined to convert just 1-of-10 FGs. Wade added five rebounds and six assists to his 36 points while LBJ had modest totals of 20-7-8. Bosh had 12 points and eight rebounds but while he has 31 points and 17 rebounds in the first two games of the Finals, he’s made just 9-of-34 FGs (26.5 percent) while getting ‘schooled’ on defense by Dirk in Game 2’s fourth quarter.
Miami’s bench entered the Finals averaging only 18.1 PPG in the 2011 postseason but in Game 1, outscored the Dallas reserves 27-17. It marked just the 8th time in 98 games (including regular and postseason) that the Miami bench had outscored its opponents and the 10-point margin was the largest this season. However, Miami’s reserves scored only 11 points in Game 2, with Chalmers accounting for nine points (Haslem and Miller combined to play 44 minutes but made just 1-of-6 shots for two points). It’s hard to argue that Miami’s defense got shredded (Mavs scored 95 points but did convert 48%) but I will note that entering Game 2, the Heat had allowed an opponent to score more than 89 points without going into overtime just once in the previous eight games (lone exception was Game 1 of the Chicago series).
On to Dallas. The Mavs looked ‘dead in the water’ after Wade’s three-pointer but the team which has been best known for its playoff failures this past decade, is re-writing history this postseason. Dirk was terrific, making all the key plays down the stretch, including two left-handed layups despite his injured finger. Marion had 20 & 8, after getting 16 & 10 in Game 1. Chandler added 13 & 7 and Terry accounted for 16 of the team’s 23 bench points. The Dallas bench entered the Finals averaging a postseason-high 39.4 PPG while shooting 45.8 percent. The Dallas reserves were better in Game 2 (outscored its Miami counterparts 23-11) but after two games is averaging a modest 20.0 PPG on only 12-of-42 shooting (28.6 percent). The point being, the Mavs’ bench has yet to play a good game.
Dallas came back to win from 15 points down in the fourth quarter for the second time this postseason (the Mavs trailed the Thunder by 15 points with five minutes left in Game 4 of the Western Conference finals, before winning in OT) and it marked the first time it’s happened in an NBA Finals since the Bulls did it against the Blazers in the 1992 Finals. The Dallas win makes the Mavs 11-2 SU (10-3 ATS) this postseason, since the team blew a 23-point lead to the Blazers in Game 4 of that first round series. The Mavs are 6-1 SU and ATS on the road in that span and Thursday’s win in Miami ended the Heat’s 9-0 (7-2 ATS) home winning streak this postseason. As I pointed out prior to Game 2, Game 1 winners under the current 2-3-2 format of the Finals (starting in 1985) have gone on to win 20 of the 26 titles. The Dallas win prevented the Mavs from falling into an 0-2 ‘hole,’ of which just one previous team had recovered from in 15 previous Finals since 1985.
The next three games are in Dallas but it should be noted that under the 2-3-2 format, just two teams have won all three “middle games” of the NBA Finals, the Pistons in 2004 and the Heat in 2006. Miami is a modest 4-3 SU this postseason away from home but did go 28-13 on the road during the regular season, tying Dallas for the NBA’s best away record. Sunday’s Game 3 is set for 8:00 ET on ABC. I’m sure you’ve read or heard this a million times by now but in the previous 11 times an NBA Finals has been tied at one-all in this 2-3-2 format, the Game 3 winner has gone on to capture the series each time. I guess that makes this game fairly significant.
The Mavs favored by 2 1/2 points and with a total of 188 1/2. Home teams are now 52-25 (.675) this postseason, going 36-38-3 ATS. I’m calling the Game 2 total a ‘push’ (first this postseason), so over/under bettors have seen 37 overs and 39 unders through 77 postseason games. “Zig-Zaggers” are 29-30-3 ATS (minus-4.0 net games) after winning with the Mavs in Game 2 and will have a play on the Heat in Game 3. However, a SEVENTH straight losing postseason ATS (last winning year was 2005, when it went 37-31-1 ATS), is all but assured.
Join me Monday for my next update, when I’ll ‘chime in’ on Shaq’s retirement and his place in NBA history. My next playoff journal will be Tuesday by 2:00 ET.