Inside Report: NBA Finals Game 2 recap — Dallas Mavericks (1-1) at Miami Heat (1-1)
Inside Report: NBA Finals Game 2 preview — Dallas Mavericks (0-1) at Miami Heat (1-0)
Earl K. Sneed previews Game 2 of the NBA Finals from Miami, as the Mavericks try to rebound from their first series deficit in this year's playoffs and battle through an injury to leading scorer Dirk Nowitzki in order to return to Dallas even at 1-1 with three home games scheduled.
MIAMI — Thursday night is all about second chances for the Dallas Mavericks.
Trailing for the first time in this year’s playoffs entering Game 2 of the NBA Finals, the Mavericks not only hope to take advantage of a second chance to steal away the home-court advantage from the Miami Heat in the championship series, they also look to avoid facing a 0-2 hole with the 2-3-2 format shifting to Dallas for three games.
The Mavs will try to avoid giving up as many second-chance opportunities as they did in a 92-84 Game 1 loss Tuesday night, when the Heat pulled down 16 offensive rebounds en route to a 46-36 advantage on the glass. And despite the final results the first time the two teams faced off for the championship hardware, Thursday night the Mavs will try to keep from finding themselves in the same position the Heat did in 2006, when Miami fell twice on the road before storming back to win four consecutive games to take home the Larry O’Brien trophy.
“We’re a veteran team, so you can’t get down with a loss. You gotta come back strong on Thursday,” Mavericks leading scorer Dirk Nowitzki said immediately after the Game 1 defeat. “And I’ve said it a couple of times this playoff run, if you’re the road team, you’re happy with a split. So, we’ve got another opportunity on Thursday to go get one. Obviously, we don’t want to go home being down 0-2, which is a hole, so we’d love to go home with a split. We’ve just gotta be a little bit sharper there on Thursday in some areas.”
But Nowitzki will have his own personal issues to work through in order to lead his team to an important road victory, taking the court likely wearing a splint on his left middle finger after tearing a tendon in the digit during the final minutes of the series-opening loss.
Attempting to slap away a steal from Heat big man Chris Bosh, the Mavs’ go-to player came away with the injury that he will have to endure for the remainder of the series. Now, the 10-time All-Star will look to rebound from a 7-for-18 shooting night, despite scoring a game-high 27 points, while adjusting to a hurt non-shooting hand.
“I don’t think it’s going to be necessarily bothering me on the shot. Obviously, on the shot you only hold the ball with the left hand. It’s not like you do anything crazy with it,” Nowitzki explained. “It’s going to be other stuff, dribbling, passing, catching, swiping down, stuff like that. I think it will be OK. I have this splint on now. I think we’re going to play around with some other stuff, try tape or try a splint from the back, so I can feel the ball and not lose grip of the ball. … By [Thursday morning] I’ll have an idea how it feels and how it is to play with the thing. I’ll be OK. I’m really not worried. It’s not that sore, so it should be OK.”
“He’s not going to complain,” Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle added. “At this point, anything short of a compound fracture, you play. … Dirk has played with a lot of injuries. He’s played hurt. It’s one of the reasons he’s becoming a legendary player, some of the things he’s gone through and some of the things he’s played with and how quickly he’s bounced back. He’s never going to be a guy to complain about those kinds of things. … I know he’s going to play. I know he’s not going to make an issue of it.”
With their star player not using the injury as an excuse to derail the team from its primary focus, the Mavericks will now try to adjust to defending and combating the Heat’s Big Three of LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Bosh, who combined to tally 65 points, 28 rebounds and 15 assists between them.
And despite holding the Heat to just 38.8 percent shooting, the Mavs say that they will have to give Nowitzki better support as a team in order to help the 7-footer outduel Miami’s talented trio, after connecting on just 37.3 percent of their shots at the other end.
“I mean, you hold a team to 38 percent and 92 points, for us that’s usually a victory. To score 84 points is very rare for us,” forward Shawn Marion said after scoring 16 points in the Mavs’ second-lowest scoring playoff game during this postseason. “To get 67 shots as well, even to shoot 37 percent. Most times we shoot 37 percent from the field, the other team is going to shoot lower than that. It was about equal, and we only were able to score 84 points.”
“Not tentative at all, just had opportunities that weren’t taken advantage of,” sixth man Jason Terry added, finishing Game 1 3-for-10 from the floor and scoring all 12 of his points in the first half with James draped all over him in the second 24 minutes of play.
And after reserve guard J.J. Barea also struggled, hitting just one of his eight shot attempts, the Mavs admit that they can’t afford to be outscored in the battle of the benches again, hoping to bounce back from the 27-17 disadvantage by getting Terry easier looks when James swings to the sharpshooter on the defensive end.
“Execution-wise, we’ve got to do better. We have to screen better. We’ve got to make sure that everybody is in the right place,” Carlisle explained when looking ahead to Thursday night. “It’s difficult, and they’re paying [Terry] a very high compliment by putting their best defensive player on him. And I think that’s something that tells you how important they feel JET is to us.
“We’ve looked at it. We’ll do some things that we think can help us. But, again, I am going to keep getting back to the fact that the second-chance opportunities are taking us out of seven, eight, nine, ten other chances we have to get the ball up the floor and get into our game, our flow game, which is our best brand of basketball.”
The Mavericks will try to establish their brand of basketball in the series Thursday night, hoping to head back to Dallas even before hosting three games at home. And with the Heat hoping to prevent that, both teams say that Game 1 is now in the past and the focus is solely on the second showdown.
“That’s what it’s about. We understand that Game 1 is over,” James said from the Heat’s perspective. “We played well, but there were some things we could have done better. We now move our focus to Game 2 and approach that game like it’s our last as well. We continue to come into our home court and try to protect home court. We understand Dallas, if they come in here and do a great job of stealing one of our games, then they forget about Game 1 as well. So, we have to come in with the same mindset.”
Note: The NBA Finals between the Dallas Mavericks and Miami Heat will continue Thursday in Miami, with Game 2 airing nationally on ABC at 8 p.m. CT.
The Mavericks will host Game 3 at the American Airlines Center on Sunday, June 5, in a game that tip off at 7 p.m. CT and air nationally on ABC. Tickets for the Finals are on sale now. Visit Mavs.com for details or call 214-747-MAVS (6287).
All of the Mavs’ home Finals games at American Airlines Center will be a MAVS ROYAL BLUE-OUT!
Every seat at the American Airlines Center will have a MAVS ROYAL BLUE playoff T-shirt placed in it. We need for you and every Mavs fan to show their Mavs pride. So, dress ready to put on your MAVS ROYAL BLUE playoff T-shirt when you get to your seat.
The Dallas Mavericks will host a FREE watch party for fans on Thursday, June 2 as the Mavs take on the Miami Heat in Game 2 of the 2011 NBA Finals.
Fans can join the Mavs Dancers, ManiAACs, Street Team, Ali Dee and Ro Parrish and watch the game on the full HD video boards inside American Airlines Center.
Parking will be available in Lots E and F for $5 and the Platinum parking garage for $10. Fans can enter American Airlines Center through the north and east doors beginning at 7 p.m. both.
The North and South Fan Shops will be open for fans to purchase NBA Finals and other Mavs apparel. Food and beverages will also be available for purchase.
A special thanks to 106.1 KISS FM, ESPN and ESPN Deportes for their support of the Mavericks watch parties.