They say that no NBA Playoff series truly gets underway until one team wins a game in their opponent’s arena. If that old bromide is true then the 2011 NBA Finals officially got underway Thursday night as the Dallas Mavericks defeated the Miami Heat at American Airlines Arena 95-93. The win for the Mavericks knots the series up at 1-1 with the action moving to Dallas for the next three games. Dirk Nowitzki did not appear to be hampered with the dislocated middle finger on his left hand as he racked up a double-double with 24 points for the night. Dwyane Wade scored a game high 36 points for the Heat but it would not be enough to get his team the win at home.
The Mavericks looked like they were about to fall to their second straight loss in the NBA Championship round as they trailed Miami by double-digits with 7:15 left in the contest. But instead of going quietly into the night Dallas went on a 20-2 run to take the lead at 93-90. Mario Chalmers tied the contest with 24 seconds on the clock but Nowitzki would drive the lane putting the rock through the hole with three seconds to play winning the game for his club.
Unlike the opening game of the series both teams shot very well in the first 12 minutes of play. Jose Juan Barea sank a shot eight feet from the hoop with three seconds remaining and the score was tied at 28-28 at the end of the quarter. Dallas surged ahead in the second and would hold a 51-42 advantage over the Heat with 3:00 left in the period as Shawn Marion laid the ball up and in. But Miami came roaring back down the stretch and D-Wade knotted up the game once again as he buried a 26 foot trey with 25 seconds left in the quarter. The score would be deadlocked at 51-51 as the game reached the half.
The Heat would dominate most of the third going on top 71-61 as Wade split a pair at the line with 3:01 to play in the quarter. Jason Terry would help the Mavericks cut their deficit by the end of the period knocking down a mid-range jumper with four seconds on the clock and Miami’s lead was reduced to 75-71 as the period concluded. Miami would seem to have the victory in hand as they led 88-73 with 7:15 left in the game. But that was when Dallas took the game over outscoring their hosts 22-5 and getting the important road victory.
Nowitzki had 24 points, 11 rebounds, 4 assists and a block while Marion scored 20 points, 8 rebounds, 3 assists, a block and a steal. Terry came off the bench with 16 points, 5 assists, 2 steals and 1 rebound while Tyson Chandler had a strong performance as the Mavericks center put up 13 points, 7 rebounds and had 1 steal.
Wade scored 36 points, 6 assists, 5 rebounds, 3 steals and 2 blocks while LeBron James, 8 rebounds, 4 assists, 4 steals, and a block. Mike Bibby added 14 points, 4 steals and a rebound while Chris Bosh chipped in 12 points, 8 rebounds and 1 steal. The two teams now head to Dallas for the next three contests with game three Sunday.