Dec 21, 2012, 12:49 AM EDT
The Miami Heat are the defending champions for a reason. The overall talent on the roster, which includes the league’s best player in LeBron James, is enough to beat most teams in the league with ease, but only when everyone is engaged, and interested in defending to the level that they have proven to be capable of during last June’s run at the title.
On Thursday night in Dallas, Miami brought that championship-caliber effort, and made quick work of a shorthanded Mavericks team while cruising to a 110-95 victory, the Heat’s third straight.
James set the tone for his team from the very start. He had 13 first-quarter points on 6-of-7 shooting while playing all 12 minutes, to go along with four rebounds, three assists, and a blocked shot in the game’s opening period. Miami led by 11 after one, and never looked back, seeing their lead balloon to as many as 36 points in the third before Dallas closed the gap a bit in extended garbage time.
The Mavericks were without Elton Brand and Brandan Wright in this one due to injury, but it wouldn’t have made a difference had they been able to go. Miami was dialed in, perhaps motivated by the 2011 championship banner that hangs at the American Airlines Center that came at the expense of LeBron James and Dwyane Wade in the NBA Finals just two seasons ago.
O.J. Mayo has been taking the load of carrying the Mavericks’ offense on his shoulders thus far with Dirk Nowitzki still sidelined, and has put up All-Star level numbers to this point in the season while doing so. But he couldn’t get anything going in this one, and finished with just eight points on 3-of-14 shooting, while missing all five of his attempts from three-point distance.
Dallas was forced to go small with its lineups given its available players, and had very limited success. The team finished the night shooting just 38.5 percent from the field, while making just three of its 22 three-point attempts.
The defense was more of a problem than the offense for Dallas, however, with the Heat getting what they wanted when and how they wanted it on virtually every meaningful possession.
We’ll never know for sure if seeing the Mavericks and that banner was the reason for Miami’s breakout performance, or if it was simply the circumstances surrounding the lineups Dallas was forced to go with given its list of available players. But the Heat brought the intensity with which it was able to win last year’s title, and when they do that, there are only a very limited number of teams that even have a chance.
Oct 24, 2014, 12:15 AM EDT
Spurs big man just won’t stop producing great seasons
Oct 23, 2014, 11:00 PM EDT
That’s real artistry by the Heat star
Oct 23, 2014, 10:00 PM EDT
Why is Houston’s general manager downplaying his own team’s success?
Oct 23, 2014, 8:50 PM EDT
Sterling had previously dropped a fraud charge against the NBA.
Oct 23, 2014, 8:02 PM EDT
The two-time MVP continues to battle nerve damage in his back.
Oct 23, 2014, 7:45 PM EDT
A rare look at Popovich’s lighter side.
Oct 23, 2014, 7:00 PM EDT
Bad news for #JugLife devotees.
Oct 23, 2014, 6:15 PM EDT
Smart wins the “job” over one-time frontrunner Evan Turner
Oct 23, 2014, 5:28 PM EDT
He’s already one of the best players in Philadelphia.
Oct 23, 2014, 4:45 PM EDT
When you lose the best player walking the face of the earth, your team gets worse.
Oct 23, 2014, 4:00 PM EDT
Love reflects on his summer and the blockbuster trade in a new “Players Tribune” essay.
Oct 23, 2014, 3:22 PM EDT
It looks like a NASA launch center… but it’s a good thing for the league.
Oct 23, 2014, 2:47 PM EDT
Cavalier star forward still adjusting to playing with LeBron James, Kyrie Irving
Oct 23, 2014, 2:10 PM EDT
Retired jersey went to New Orleans when team moved
Oct 23, 2014, 1:33 PM EDT
76ers point guard originally given 5-to-50-game timeline
Oct 23, 2014, 12:57 PM EDT
Suns guard sends Clippers reserve flying
Oct 23, 2014, 12:18 PM EDT
Lakers president has strong words for Kobe detractors after ESPN report
Oct 23, 2014, 11:37 AM EDT
Kobe previously planned to play all eight preseason games
Oct 23, 2014, 11:00 AM EDT
He could miss the start of the season.
Oct 23, 2014, 10:10 AM EDT
The grit and grind has an improved offense. Where do they stand in the loaded west?
- Steve Nash to miss entire 2014-15 season with ongoing back injuries 27
- Jeanie Buss: ‘Any free agent that would be afraid to play with Kobe Bryant is probably a loser’ 52
- ProBasketballTalk 2014-15 Preview: Memphis Grizzlies 7
- Five top candidates for NBA Rookie of the Year 30
- NBA GMs surveyed predict LeBron will win MVP, Spurs will repeat as champions 31
- Owners vote down NBA Draft lottery reform, system to stay same for this season 47
- ProBasketballTalk 2014-15 preview: Houston Rockets 26
- Kobe Bryant responds to ESPN article with basically a shrug (VIDEO) 22