The Mavericks have now won every game in franchise history that they have played in the NBA Finals! Doesn’t it feel good? Game 1 was deposited in the Win Bank with a stifling effort on the defensive end for the better part of the final 3 quarters, as the Mavericks allowed just 49 points in 36 minutes of basketball. If the Dallas offense looked sloppy and out of sync, it is because it was. The Mavericks were never fully comfortable with the ball, but the saving grace continues to be the theme of the 2005-06 championship run – DEFENSE.
This game was a meat grinder. This game required you to go strong to the rim or not to bother going at all. It was played with desperation on both sides, and sets up for a very competitive series, albeit one that might not be pleasing to the eye.
And there to save the day for the Mavericks on a night when Dirk and Josh Howard needed to be saved was Jason Terry. Terry who admitted to having a very rough experience in the Western Finals against Phoenix just absolutely torched the Heat. He looked like he was insulted with Jason Williams trying to guard him early, and then as the night went on must have been shocked that they decided to not guard him at all so he stuck another 3. What a performance for JET, and without him you could make the claim that there is no chance that Dallas wins Game 1.
Various other quick hits from Game 1, the NBA Finals:
• Dwayne Wade is amazing. I really enjoyed watching him at Marquette (Well…) and I thought there that he was easily the best player I had ever seen play there, but the way he has actually improved as he has entered the NBA is tough to believe. Usually, a player dominates far less at the pro level than he does at the college level, but I think Wade is much better now than he was. It appears he can get to the rim anytime he wants, and the big man trying to protect the rim has almost no effect on him. If I am the Mavs, I instruct his defender to play off him and hope that he settles for jump shots, but I really don’t think you will stop him from driving no matter how you defend that kid. Wow.
• OK, Dirk had 0 points in the 4th Quarter. And went 4-14 in the game. Lucky they won, or everyone would be ready to jump on him. I must admit it is weird to see Shaq and Dirk as supporting cast members last night. I am sure that will not continue for 7 games, but last night you could make the case that Antoine Walker made as much an impact as Shaquille. That is crazy even to type.
• It does look like Dirk was given plenty of trouble by Udanis Haslem. His physical style of defense and James Posey’s Bruce Bowen impression are going to make the Mavericks work for their points, and Dirk needs to adjust and figure out how to score against this new look. I am pretty sure I still like his chances to really torch Miami in this series, but Haslem certainly deserves credit for never allowing Dirk to be comfortable in the game.
• 1-9? I am pretty sure of the 20,000+ in attendance, at least 19,000 of them could nail 1-9 from the free throw line as Shaq accomplished. If you would have told me in 2002 that Shaq would actually get worse from the line, I might not have believed you. But it is official, he is worse. Also, the Heat go 7-19 from the line, which you could say helped the Mavericks enjoy good fortune and that if the Heat may have hit some free throws they would have won, but that is the Heat, kids. They do this all the time. In Game 5 at Detroit, the Heat hit 6-20 free throws. They just can’t hit them.
• Have you ever missed a player less than you miss Antoine Walker? Now he did hit a few huge shots last night including that 3 off a Dirk bad pass at the end of the 1Q, but his 6 turnovers were killers, and if he is going to shoot 19 times, there are no worries for Dallas. You got to almost love Walker hitting a few early shots because that will get him thinking that he is a scored. Advantage Mavericks.
• Erick Dampier did a great job last night. 27 minutes of causing Shaq some resistance. Nothing earth shattering, but just imagine Raef Lafrentz or Shawn Bradley doing what Damp and Diop are doing.
• Have you ever seen one play change the game like Jason Terry’s airball breakaway layup? It would have put the Mavs up 84-72, instead the Heat came right back to score the next 7 points and cut it to 82-79. Terry missed that layup at 7:37, and get this: The Mavericks next Field Goal was scored with 1:02 when Stackhouse hit a hoop. AND THEY WON! That is right, somehow, Dirk gets 0, and the Mavericks get one hoop in the final 8 minutes and still win by 10. That is crazy.
• I swear all through the years that great musical acts occupy halftime in the NBA Finals. At least in the last decade it has been U2, Destiny’s Child, Mariah, Jay-Z all playing at halftime of these games. So, what did we have at halftime? That’s right. Trampoline dunking. The most tired bit in basketball history. Wow.
• I think you know what I am going to say next. Game 2 is crucial. It is nice to get a win when you play poorly, but don’t give it back on Sunday. If they win both games here, the Mavericks are going to be in great shape. But, if they lose the game on Sunday, Miami will rate their trip here as a huge success.
• Jason Williams looks really weird in those black tights. I don’t think I would go with that look.
• Terrell Owens in a Shaq jersey. Worse than standing on the Star? Just kidding.