The Miami Heat were minutes away from taking a 2-0 lead in the NBA Finals against the Dallas Mavericks, holding a 15-point lead with just over half of the fourth quarter to go. Everything had seemingly gone right for Miami, as the team's sterling defense had held up for the second time against Dallas' kismet attack, and it's offense was clicking (even as Chris Bosh struggled).
But it all fell apart down the stretch. The Miami offense went into clock-milking mode, which totally killed the flow and resulted in bad shot after bad shot. On the other end, Dallas used long rebounds to get out early and catch the Heat resistance unsettled and disorganized. That resulted in a 22-5 that sealed a win for the Mavericks, giving the West's champion a 1-1 split in Miami. It was the Heat's first home loss of the postseason.
They need it back in Game 3 at the American Airlines Center in Dallas. The Mavericks are 7-1 at home this postseason, having lost Game 2 to the Oklahoma City Thunder in the West finals. Miami is 4-3 on the road, with 1-1 splits in each of Philadelphia and Boston and a 2-1 roll in Chicago, where the Heat robbed home court advantage in Game 2 of the East finals and never looked back.
Game 2 in the East championship series is the last time the Heat found themselves trailing in a series; should the Mavericks win Game 3, Miami would be back in that spot. While we obviously know the Heat can bounce back, this Mavericks team seems to be made of different ingredients. When it's pressed an advantage over opponents in these playoffs -- think Game 5 against Portland, the Game 1 win in L.A. against the Lakers, Game 3 against OKC -- it's pressed it hard. No opponent has been able to breathe easy, because Dallas strikes twice. The run to end Game 2 was Dallas' first strike of the Finals. Miami has to prepare for the next lunge.
As expected, two lovely teams are fighting their tails off in highly competitive games. What more could you want? Game 3 will tip at 8 p.m. ET on ABC. For full series coverage, check out our Heat vs. Mavericks hub. For more on the Heat, visit Peninsula Is Mightier. For more on the Mavericks, visit Mavs Moneyball and SB Nation Dallas.