Skip to content

NBA Finals Preview: Dallas Mavericks vs. Miami Heat

May 27, 2011, 4:45 AM EST

Dallas Mavericks v Miami Heat Getty Images

SEASON RECORDS
Mavericks: 57-25 (No. 3 seed in Western Conference)
Heat: 58-24 (No. 2 seed in Eastern Conference)

SEASON SERIES
Dallas swept the season series 2-0. After a slow start to the season Miami went on a 22-2 streak — but both of those losses were to Dallas. That said, both games were before Christmas, so don’t read much into them.

PLAYOFF SERIES
Mavericks: defeated the Portland Trail Blazers 4-2, Los Angeles Lakers, 4-0, Oklahoma City Thunder 4-1
Heat: defeated Philadelphia 76ers 4-1, Boston Celtics 4-1, Chicago Bulls 4-1

SERIES SCHEDULE (times Eastern)

Game 1 – Tue. May 31 at Miami 9:00 PM
Game 2 – Thu. June 2 at Miami 9:00 PM
Game 3 – Sun. June 5 at Dallas 8:00 PM
Game 4 – Tue. June 7 at Dallas 9:00 PM
Game 5 * Thu. June 9 at Dallas 9:00 PM
Game 6 * Sun. June 12 at Miami 8:00 PM
Game 7 * Tue. June 14 at Miami 9:00 PM

All games broadcast on ABC

KEY INJURIES
Mavericks: Caron Butler likely will not play this series, he has been out with knee surgery since the middle of the season. Rodrigue Beaubois is back from injury, but it hasn’t mattered he isn’t playing. The Mavs have made the finals in spite of all that.
Heat: Mike Miller has injured two thumbs you couldn’t play NBA 2K11 with, but he will be out on the court.

OFFENSE/DEFENSE PLAYOFF RANKING (points per 100 possessions)
Mavericks: Offense 114.1 (1st in NBA playoffs); Defense 106.1 (8th)
Heat: Offense 107.2 (4th in NBA playoffs); Defense 101.7 (3rd)

THREE KEY MAVERICKS:

Dirk Nowitzki. He has been a marvel, the single best player in the playoffs. He is averaging 28.4 points per game on 51.7 percent shooting grabbing 7.5 boards, and yet the numbers simply do not do his performance justice. He is efficient. His rainbow, one-legged, turnaround fadeaway is both the most devastating shot in the game today and completely ungaurdable. His passing has been phenomenal. In this series it will be interesting to see how the Mavericks use him on defense — hide him on Joel Anthony or let him cover Chris Bosh? Whatever he does, expect a monster series from him — like everyone else the Heat will have no good defensive answer for him.

Tyson Chandler. Through the regular season, the Miami Heat shot 66 percent when they got within three feet of the basket. But in two meetings with the Mavericks, they shot 52 percent. The key to beating the Heat is to turn them into jump shooters and not let them get easy baskets in transition and at the line. A lot of that falls to Chandler — he has to defend the rim without fouling. If he can do what he did in the regular season the Mavericks have a huge advantage. But it will not be as simple as it was back in December (the Heat’s ball movement and movement of players off the ball is far better now than the last time these teams played). Remember, at the end of Game 5 the Bulls did what they wanted and turned LeBron and Wade into jump shooters from three, and they knocked the shots down.

Jason Terry. He represents the entire Mavs bench here — J.J. Barea, Peja Stojakovic, Brendan Haywood. They have been key to the Mavericks success by providing scoring in a variety of ways, but now they face a very different challenge — the Heat have gone with a very small three-man rotation, keeping their big three on the floor for heavy minutes. The Mavs bench is going to have to match up to that — if they can it will mean rested Mavericks starters and a boost or them, but if the bench lets them down and Miami makes runs, it will be a big hole to dig out of.

THREE KEY HEAT

LeBron James. The Heat’s evolution through these playoffs into a team that trusts each other parallels James evolution. He has always had a well-rounded game in him, he’s always been willing to make the pass, but on his previous teams him shooting over a double team may have been a better scoring option than passing to some of his teammates. In the last few games against the Bulls James really seemed to settle into a facilitator role with the Heat. Of course, he’s still scoring 25.9 points per game and pulling down 8.7 rebounds per game during the playoffs so it isn’t all just making passes.

Dwyane Wade: He just did not look right last series, in the end shooting 40.5 percent and by Game 5 passing up open looks to feed more covered teammates. Well, that was until the game was on the line in the final four minutes when he hit three key sots. This series the Heat will need his offense — in the past Dallas has struggled to contain good two guards. Wade should be able to score easily on DeShawn Stevenson and he’ll need to. This is a matchup the Heat need to exploit.

Udonis Haslem. He brings a real toughness and energy to the Heat — this is one of the guys on this team with a ring (from the 2006 Heat). He also is here to represent the guys on Miami — Chris Bosh, even LeBron James — who have to cover Nowitzki. They need to be able to often single-cover Nowitzki because the Mavericks spread the floor with shooters and you can’t leave them. Haslem hounded Nowitzki and kept him in check during the 2006 finals and will be asked to reprise that role. The time off until next Tuesday and the amount of time between games in the finals should help keep him healthy (he had foot surgery early in the year).

OUTLOOK

This is going to be one entertaining finals. These teams are here because they were the teams executing at the end of games — both sides have tremendous come-from-behind wins and both have just simply out executed their opponents in the clutch. Both have seen their best players — Dirk Nowitzki and LeBron James — win games with jump shots.

No lead will feel safe in this series, especially late. That said, both teams benefited from playing teams that helped out with tight play and poor execution under pressure last series. That will not be the case now, one team will need to step up.

One key so far is that Dallas has not played fantastic defense, they’ve been just pretty average through the playoffs. Dallas has won with their offense. Miami’s defense, on the other hand, has been impressive. Their athleticism challenges everything, takes away passing lanes and they have been physical with everyone. This will be a different kind of test because Dallas is a jump shooting team — pack it in to take away the paint like the Heat did against the Bulls and the Mavs will shoot and make right over the top, something Chicago failed to do. Either Miami’s defense or the Mavs offense has to give way, and that will be key.

Dallas needs to exploit the point guard play of Mike Bibby or the lack of size inside by the Heat — who go with a small lineup having 6’9” Joel Anthony at center — to win. The Mavericks need to hit the offensive glass hard, harder than the Bulls did, to get the series win. Rebounding will be another key.

Bench play also will matter — Dallas has gotten scoring from everyone it seems, but how will that bench fare against heavy minutes from the big three of the Heat.

PREDICTION

Dallas has been playing fantastic ball, but Miami has been playing better defense so far. Plus, the versatility of their three stars gives them more ways to attack and adjust as the series wears on. Dallas will put up a fight, and they have surprised us before these playoffs, but while this will feel different it will end just like it did in 2006.

Heat in 6.

Latest Posts
  1. Kobe Bryant to have surgery on shoulder, is done for season

    Jan 26, 2015, 3:37 PM EST

    Kobe Bryant AP

    He should be back for the start of next season.

  2. PBT’s Weekly NBA Power Rankings: Hawks continue to fly high

    Jan 26, 2015, 2:38 PM EST

    cd0ymzcznguwzdbhnduynddiytjhm2yyzthlmtjjotqwyyznptnmmtzkyjjhzgm1zdzlogjiyza4mgjimdhiyjc2mjcy AP

    It’s Hawks and Warriors and everyone else. Just as its been for a while now.

  3. Kobe Bryant wanted to sign with Michael Jordan’s Wizards

    Jan 26, 2015, 2:04 PM EST

    Kobe Bryant with Michael Jordan Getty Images

    After Washington pushed out Jordan, Kobe re-signed with Lakers

  4. Nick Young benched because Byron Scott thought Lakers guard ‘didn’t want to be there’

    Jan 26, 2015, 11:47 AM EST

    The Los Angeles Sports And Entertainment Commission's 11th Annual Lakers All-Access Event Getty Images

    Lakers coach asked Young about his defense. ‘The answer he gave me, I couldn’t figure it out.’

  5. Pau Gasol’s trade tip put his and Marc Gasol’s All-Star futures in motion

    Jan 26, 2015, 11:44 AM EST

    Chicago Bulls v Memphis Grizzlies Getty Images

    Gasols, Pau of the Bulls and Marc of the Grizzlies, become first brothers to start an NBA All-Star game

  6. Reports: Kings at Knicks, Trail Blazers at Nets games Monday postponed due to coming storm

    Jan 26, 2015, 11:09 AM EST

    cd0ymzcznguwzdbhnduynddiytjhm2yyzthlmtjjotqwyyznptmzywjlotg5yji0ngq5mjezytm4mtg0mte4nge4zgq3 AP

    With the storm bearing down on the Northeast, this is the right move by the league.

  7. Did win over Lakers break Rockets out of their defensive slump?

    Jan 26, 2015, 8:30 AM EST

    Houston Rockets v Los Angeles Lakers Getty Images

    Was it good defense or just that the Lakers were that bad?

  8. Timberwolves’ Robbie Hummel breaks hand, says he is out six weeks

    Jan 26, 2015, 8:00 AM EST

    Robbie Hummel Getty Images

    When he gets healthy and back the guys in front of him on the depth chart will be healthy as well.

  9. Report: Hornets, Nets talking possible Lance Stephenson for Joe Johnson trade

    Jan 25, 2015, 9:04 PM EST

    Lance Stephenson Getty Images

    The Nets and Hornets talked but did not pull the trigger on a Brook Lopez trade recently.

  10. Bulls pay tribute to Luol Deng in United Center return (VIDEO)

    Jan 25, 2015, 5:30 PM EST

    Miami Heat v Sacramento Kings Miami Heat v Sacramento Kings

    Deng played his first game in Chicago as a member of a visiting team on Sunday.

Featured video

Stephen Curry leads NBA MVP race mid-season
Top 10 NBA Player Searches
  1. L. Aldridge (8336)
  2. K. Bryant (8204)
  3. H. Whiteside (7446)
  4. D. Wade (7272)
  5. R. Rubio (6715)
  1. K. Martin (6564)
  2. J. Noah (6407)
  3. C. Anthony (6058)
  4. N. Batum (6056)
  5. K. Walker (5989)