MIAMI, FL - JUNE 02: Dirk Nowitzki #41 of the Dallas Mavericks reacts against the Miami Heat in Game Two of the 2011 NBA Finals at American Airlines Arena on June 2, 2011 in Miami, Florida. THe Mavericks won 95-93. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

Heat Vs. Mavericks, Game 2: Dirk Nowitzki Caps Amazing Comeback As Dallas Wins, 95-93

Dirk Nowitzki capped an amazing comeback by the Dallas Mavericks as they rallied from 13 down with six minutes to go to stun the Miami Heat, 95-93.

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Heat Vs. Mavericks: Mike Miller Ineffective In Game 2 Miami Loss

Questions surrounded Mike Miller after the Miami Heat's Game 1 win over the Dallas Mavericks to open the NBA Finals on Tuesday. Miller appeared to aggravate a shoulder injury late in that game, and wore a sling upon leaving the AmericanAirlines Arena. He and Miami coach Erik Spoelstra repeatedly said that Miller was fine, and that he'd be ready to go for Game 2 Thursday.

Miller did play on Thursday, a total of 15 minutes off the bench as Spoelstra leaned on an eight-man rotation. But unlike in Game 1, Miller was totally ineffective, scoreless on three shots (all three-pointers). He did pick up four defensive rebounds -- he had nine in Game 1 -- but Miami needs him shooting and scoring. He did neither in Game 2.

Whether that can be attributed to the injury or just a back night at the office remains a mystery. But with James Jones saying he's healthy on the bench -- he had a nagging injury that limited him to 24 minutes in the Heat's series against the Chicago Bulls -- you have to wonder if Spoelstra will make a decision to give Miller a shorter leash as the Finals shift to Dallas. If Miller isn't physically right to the point where he'll struggle to make the Mavericks defense pay for doubling on LeBron James and Dwyane Wade, he's not of great use on the floor, despite playing solid defense and rebounding.

For more on the Heat, visit Peninsula Is Mightier.

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Welcome To The NBA's Golden Age

Dirk Nowitzki and the Dallas Mavericks came back from the dead vs. the Miami Heat in Game 2 of the NBA Finals, and it's just more proof that in 2011, the NBA's come alive like never before.

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VIDEO: Dwyane Wade's Premature Celebration That Fired Dallas Mavericks Up


Here is the much-discussed "celebration" that LeBron James and Dwyane Wade engaged in that supposedly fired up the Dallas Mavericks and caused them to rally from a 15-point fourth-quarter deficit in Game 2 of the NBA Finals. It was a play that Tyson Chandler, Jason Terry and Jason Kidd all resented, with Chandler going as far to say that it "angered" the Mavericks. This means that everyone writing about this game has a built-in narrative that will be happily consumed by the masses thanks to all the Heat hate.

But let's step back for a second. Really, Dallas Mavericks? That's the celebration that you say inspired you? Weak sauce.

As Holly MacKenzie pointed out: if that's your standard for a celebration, then Miami should be inspired every time DeShawn Stevenson does anything. If you watch the video, the only player on the Mavericks who is even responding to Wade holding his follow through is Terry, which is ironic in and of itself considering Terry's antics when he hits big shots. As for Chandler, you can't even really see him in the picture anyway.

Wade and James didn't seem to think it was a big deal either. Via Dan Wetzel of Yahoo!

"It was no celebration at all," James said, unwilling to acknowledge the comments pouring out of the Mavericks' locker room. "I was excited about the fact that [Wade] hit a big shot, and we went up 15. The same thing we've done over the course of the season. There was no celebration at all. We knew we had seven minutes to go still to close out the game."

"There was no celebration," Wade said. "It was a shot made going into a timeout. Every team does something. That's the game. ... That's not the first time. It won't be the last time."

It's a nice little turning point that Mavericks players can turn to after the fact to explain their stunning comeback, but that's not the same thing as saying it actually fired them up. No, what fired Dallas up was facing a 15-point deficit in what was essentially a must-win game in the NBA Finals. If the Mavericks want to say otherwise, it's their right, but that's closer to the truth.

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Miami Heat Had Foul To Give On Dirk Nowitzki's Game-Winning Shot

The Dallas Mavericks stunned the Miami Heat in Game 2 of the 2011 NBA Finals after Dirk Nowitzki hit a left-handed layup with just under four seconds to go. As the video of the play shows, Nowitzki made an unbelievable move on Chris Bosh and finished with the left hand before anyone on the Heat could help Bosh. 

What the video doesn't necessarily show, however, is just how badly Miami messed up defensively. Obviously, Nowitzki still made a big-time move and hit a big-time shot, so we don't want to take anything away from him. But the Heat's defense had a foul to give and did not use it, for some reason.


Related: Dirk Nowitzki Leads All-Time Great NBA Finals Comeback

Prior to the play, the Heat had only committed three fouls in the entire quarter. NBA teams automatically shoot free throws from the fifth foul on, so Miami could have fouled Nowitzki before he started his shooting motion and forced the Mavericks to take the ball out of bounds. The Mavericks were so prepared for the Heat to use that foul that they called two plays in the huddle before the sequence, according to Lee Jenkins of Sports Illustrated. Instead, Miami didn't take the foul and Nowitzki got a layup.

To make matters worse, Bosh's one-on-one defense was awful on the play. Obviously, he let Nowitzki get by him, which is evidence enough. But he also did a poor job forcing Nowitzki towards his help defenders. The reason Nowitzki was able to get to the basket is that he was able to get to his left, where the only Heat help defender was LeBron James guarding Jason Terry in the corner. James, understandably, was reluctant to leave Terry open for three, so he didn't do much to help, and Nowitzki got a layup. Bosh needed to do more to force Nowitzki right and make it easier for Miami's help defenders to cut him off.

In the end, Nowitzki made a big-time move, but the Heat's defense left a lot to be desired. If they were more aware of their situation, they could have easily prevented the shot from taking place.

Be sure to check out our 2011 NBA Finals hub for more on the series. For more on the Heat, visit Peninsula Is Mightier. For more on the Mavericks, visit Mavs Moneyball andSB Nation Dallas.

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Heat Vs. Mavericks, Game 2: Erik Spoelstra Needed One More Timeout

Dirk Nowitzki hit a beautiful lefty lay-up with 3.6 seconds left on the clock to give the Dallas Mavericks a 95-93 lead over the Miami Heat in Game 2 of the NBA Finals on Thursday. With 3.6 seconds left, Miami should have had an opportunity for a real good shot at the basket; heck, Dallas could've gotten another good shot, if things went well for the Heat. At the end of an NBA game, 3.6 seconds is an eternity ...

... unless you're out of timeouts, which the Heat were when Dirk hit the lay-up. As a result, Dwyane Wade had to rush the ball up the court and fling a desperation three (that, shockingly, almost went in). Casual fans complain that the last minute of an NBA Playoff game takes an hour to watch. Regrettably, given the stakes and drama, this one only took about a minute.

Every coach would love to have a timeout for situations just like that which the Heat faced, but Spoelstra didn't exactly waste his timeouts -- he used them up trying to stop the Mavericks' run. They obviously weren't successful. Spoelstra used one after Jason Terry leaked out and got an open lay-up after Mario Chalmers' miss with under six minutes to go; neither the Miami offense nor its transition defense improved from that point. He used another after a few atrocious shots by LeBron James, and seemed to push Wade to get more involved. (He took an awful shot on the following possession.) The final timeout Spoelstra used came with the Heat down 93-90; the play out of that timeout resulted in a wide-open Chalmers three-pointer that quickly tied the game.

It's impossible to blame Spoelstra for any of the timeouts he actually took, even if it would have been a whole lot better for Miami if he'd had one with 3.6 seconds left. The coach was trying to prevent the Heat collapse. It didn't work, timeout or not.

For more on the aftermath from the Heat side, visit Peninsula Is Mightier.

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LeBron James Takes Awful Shots As Heat Offense Falls Apart Against Mavericks In Game 2

Dirk Nowitzki and Jason Terry killed the Miami Heat down the stretch as the Dallas Mavericks came back to win Game 2 of the NBA Finals. But plenty of the Heat's damage was self-inflicted, as their offense began to rely on LeBron James isolation and some ugly, ugly shots.

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Heat Vs. Mavericks, Game 2: Dirk Nowitzki, Dallas Mount Impressive Comeback Again In 95-93 Win

If we've learned anything in these NBA playoffs, it's that the Dallas Mavericks can never be counted out. In Game 4 of the Western Conference Finals, a Herculean performance by Dirk Nowitzki dug the Mavs out of a 15-point hole before Dallas took home the win in overtime. And in Game 2 of the NBA Finals, Dallas did it again, storming back from a 13-point deficit with six minutes to go in the fourth quarter to down the Miami Heat, 95-93.

Coming into Game 2, Dallas was already facing its share of adversity. Nowitzki was dealing with a torn tendon in his left middle finger, and nobody was sure exactly how the Mavericks' star would perform in the splint meant to protect the injury. As the Miami Heat made another fourth quarter run, it looked like the Mavs would be heading back to Dallas in an 0-2 hole after an unsuccessful trip to South Beach.

After Dwyane Wade hit a three in front of the Dallas bench to put the Heat up 15 with seven minutes to play, the Mavs were in a dire situation. But the Mavericks punched back, using strong defense to lock down the Heat while Nowitzki and Jason Terry took over on the offensive end. Miami would make just one more bucket over the final seven-plus minutes -- a late three by Mario Chalmers -- as Dallas went on a 22-5 run capped by Nowitzki's blow-by lay-in that proved to be the game-winner.

Wade's desperation three fell short at the buzzer and the Mavericks had completed another jaw-dropping comeback to even the series at one game apiece. Instead of the Heat taking a commanding 2-0 lead to Dallas, the Mavericks turned the tables, and will return home with a bit of a mental edge after snatching victory from the jaws of defeat.

Be sure to check out our 2011 NBA Finals hub for more on the series. For more on the Heat, visit Peninsula Is Mightier. For more on the Mavericks, visit Mavs Moneyball and SB Nation Dallas.

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Heat Vs. Mavericks Final Score, Game 2: Clutch Dirk Nowitzki Plays Complete Unbelievable Comeback

The Dallas Mavericks have completed one of the most incredible and improbable comebacks in the history of the NBA Finals, winning Game 2 of the 2011 NBA Finals by a final score of 95-93. To win the game, Dallas had to come back from a 15 point deficit with seven minutes remaining, something that looked downright impossible at the end of Miami's run. Dallas looked downright terrible during Miami's 13-0 run, which culminated in a spectacular three-point basket by Dwyane Wade. However, the Mavs fought back improbably, and they'll be thrilled with their away split as they head home to Dallas.

Dirk Nowitzki was the man who lead his team to the win, scoring his team's final nine points. During Game 1 and the first three quarters of Game 2, the Mavericks failed to get Nowitzki the ball in positions to score, and he looked either unwilling or unable to create his own shot. Everything changed at the end of the game, though, as Nowitzki took over as a part of his team's 22-5 run to close out the game.

With under 30 seconds remaining and the game tied at 90-90, Dallas took the lead thanks to a great screen by Tyson Chandler, a great shot by Dirk Nowitzki, and some terrible defense by the heat. Chandler's screen created a wide open three-point shot for Nowitzki, who predictably hit, putting the Mavs up 93-90.

It took mere seconds for the Heat to tie it up after calling a timeout, then running a play off the inbounds pass. LeBron James was the inbounding player, so the entire Mavs defense focused on Dwyane Wade. As a result, Mario Chalmers got into the corner completely unguarded and James found him. Chalmers knocked down the shot, tying the game up at 93-93. Unfortunately, this put the game back in Nowitzki's hands.

It appeared as if the Mavs wanted to set up Nowitzki for a jump shot, but the Heat went out of their way to prevent him from getting a good one. Taking what the defense was giving him, Nowitzki took the ball to the hole and made a relatively uncontested lay-up, giving his team the lead. With seven seconds left and no timeout, Dwyane Wade pushed up the floor by himself, but was unable to create a quality shot. The buzzer sounded and the scoreboard showed 95-93 Mavericks, completing one of the best comebacks in recent NBA Finals history.

For live coverage of Game 2 of the NBA Finals, keep it tuned to this StoryStream. To see the up-to-the-minute score, along with information from around SB Nation on the game, keep your browser on this Heat-Mavs score page. Throughout the NBA Finals, check out our 2011 NBA Finals hub for more coverage. For more on the two teams, Mavericks fans should head over to Mavs Moneyball and SB Nation Dallas, while Heat fans should check out Peninsula Is Mightier.

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Dallas Mavericks Improving Significantly; That Dagger Prediction Might Have Been Premature

Well now, the Dallas Mavericks have actually found a way to fight back and make this game interesting. They were down by 15 points with seven minutes remaining in the quarter, reeling after the Miami Heat went on a 13-0 run, but the Mavs are on an equally impressive run at the moment. They have shaved 11 points off of the Heat lead, and with three minutes remaining in the game, Miami lead by a score of 90-86.

Just like all of their other good spells in this game, the Mavericks are not relying on any one player. Instead, their run has been a total team effort, with Jason Terry arguably being the best offensive player during the sequence. However, Dirk Nowitzki is looking good, as the offense is running through him even when he isn't scoring, while Jason Kidd and Shawn Marion are playing well too.

It would be a bit surprising if LeBron James and/or Dwyane Wade didn't knock down some big shots soon, but at the moment, the Heat are actually in a bit of trouble.

For live coverage of Game 2 of the NBA Finals, keep it tuned to this StoryStream. To see the up-to-the-minute score, along with information from around SB Nation on the game, keep your browser on this Heat-Mavs score page. Throughout the NBA Finals, check out our 2011 NBA Finals hub for more coverage. For more on the two teams, Mavericks fans should head over to Mavs Moneyball and SB Nation Dallas, while Heat fans should check out Peninsula Is Mightier.

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Dwyane Wade, Miami Heat Go On 13-0 Run; Put In The Dagger And Twist

There are just over seven minutes left in the fourth quarter of Game 2, but Dwyane Wade has just stuck the dagger into the Dallas Mavericks and twisted. Thanks to his transition three-pointer with 7:14 remaining, putting Miami ahead by 15 points and causing Rick Carlisle to call timeout, this game feels as good as over.

Wade has 36 points, and this has been what can only be described as a career night for him. His dunks and his drives to get to the free throw line have been impressive, but the transition three that he hit just now was the most impressive shot of the night. This one is safe to call already. It's in the books. Over.

That seems harsh to say about a team that has Dirk Nowitzki, but there's no reason to believe that the Mavericks have any answer for Wade right now. Additionally, LeBron James has been average by his standards tonight, and if Dallas makes things interesting, he will likely take over the game. Miami are on a 13-0 run, and it wouldn't be shocking to see that extended.

For live coverage of Game 2 of the NBA Finals, keep it tuned to this StoryStream. To see the up-to-the-minute score, along with information from around SB Nation on the game, keep your browser on this Heat-Mavs score page. Throughout the NBA Finals, check out our 2011 NBA Finals hub for more coverage. For more on the two teams, Mavericks fans should head over to Mavs Moneyball and SB Nation Dallas, while Heat fans should check out Peninsula Is Mightier.

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Heat Vs. Mavericks Score, Game 2: Miami Getting Uncontested Lay-Ups, Leading

The defense of the Miami Heat has been fantastic in the opening minutes of the fourth quarter, but the biggest reason they're extending their lead is the lack thereof on the other end of the floor. Between the turnovers and the poor defense by the Dallas Mavericks, the Heat are creating a great deal of extremely easy shots, and as a result they have extended their lead to 79-73 at a timeout just three minutes into the fourth quarter.

Unforced errors are the downfall of the Mavericks at the moment, and they don't look like a team capable of turning that around. Turnovers have been a problem throughout the game, not just in this three minute sequence, and their poor defense appears to be more a product of them being tired than anything else. If the Mavericks are going to get back into this game, the formula is simple. Don't turn the ball over, don't gift the Heat free lay-ups, and get the ball to Dirk Nowitzki a bit more.

For live coverage of Game 2 of the NBA Finals, keep it tuned to this StoryStream. To see the up-to-the-minute score, along with information from around SB Nation on the game, keep your browser on this Heat-Mavs score page. Throughout the NBA Finals, check out our 2011 NBA Finals hub for more coverage. For more on the two teams, Mavericks fans should head over to Mavs Moneyball and SB Nation Dallas, while Heat fans should check out Peninsula Is Mightier.

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Heat Vs. Mavericks Score, Game 2: LeBron James Dunk Caps Off Good Third Quarter

The Dallas Mavericks have done well to recover after a poor start to the third quarter, as they only trail by four points going into the fourth, but an emphatic LeBron James dunk at the end of the quarter might have set the tone going into the fourth, as the Miami Heat lead by a score of 75-71.

Dirk Nowitzki has been average for most of the game, but it appears that he's finally getting involved. Both teams are looking solid at both ends of the floor right now, and as a result, we could be in for a great battle between stars throughout the fourth quarter. Dwyane Wade has been the best player on the floor, but LeBron James and Dirk Nowitzki look like dormant volcanoes at this point, ready to blow. Neither has been stunning in this game, but both have been very good in flashes. And, as we all know, both are spectacular closers.

Also, Steve Nash is chilling in the stands with a very attractive woman who appears to be at least 10 years his junior. I'm not being judgmental in either a positive or negative way, just passing along facts. Make of that what you will.

For live coverage of Game 2 of the NBA Finals, keep it tuned to this StoryStream. To see the up-to-the-minute score, along with information from around SB Nation on the game, keep your browser on this Heat-Mavs score page. Throughout the NBA Finals, check out our 2011 NBA Finals hub for more coverage. For more on the two teams, Mavericks fans should head over to Mavs Moneyball and SB Nation Dallas, while Heat fans should check out Peninsula Is Mightier.

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We Have A Brian Cardinal Sighting! I Repeat, A Brian Cardinal Sighting!

No, I'm dead serious. After not playing...at all? Like, for a very long time? Brian Cardinal (nicknamed THE CUSTODIAN) has entered the game for teh Dallas Mavericks. His appearance lasted less than two minutes, but it was still highly entertaining to see Cardinal on the floor. Can we use some kind of ridiculous yet to be invented magic to make Caron Butler healthy, please? I know they don't play the same position, but more bodies on the Mavs might stop this madness.

As for actual basketball that is not simply about the lulz, Dwyane Wade continues to be the best player on the floor for the Miami Heat. He's finally starting to get to the free throw line in addition to his great field goals, and he has 11 more points than anyone else playing in this game. The Heat are looking more and more in control as this game goes on, and LeBron James isn't even doing anything. This is a seriously scary thought for Mavericks fans.

For live coverage of Game 2 of the NBA Finals, keep it tuned to this StoryStream. To see the up-to-the-minute score, along with information from around SB Nation on the game, keep your browser on this Heat-Mavs score page. Throughout the NBA Finals, check out our 2011 NBA Finals hub for more coverage. For more on the two teams, Mavericks fans should head over to Mavs Moneyball and SB Nation Dallas, while Heat fans should check out Peninsula Is Mightier.

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Heat Vs. Mavericks Score, Game 2: Dallas Recovers From Slump, Miami Still Leads

The Dallas Mavericks have significantly recovered from their poor sequence between the end of the second quarter and the beginning of the third quarter, but the Miami Heat are still in control of the game, With just under five minutes remaining in the third quarter, the Heat lead by a score of 64-61.

Dwyane Wade is still the best player on the floor, and the Heat are still making shots at a slightly better rate than their opponents. Mike Bibby has just hit a three-point shot, his third of the night, and his shooting has been a serious boost for Miami. Bibby was downright poor in Game 1, and the Heat are a much better team when Bibby can hit threes.

The Mavericks would be completely back in the game at this point if it weren't for their turnovers, which are keeping Miami in control of the game. Dallas have turned the ball over five times in the quarter to this point, compared to Miami's zero turnovers in the third.

For live coverage of Game 2 of the NBA Finals, keep it tuned to this StoryStream. To see the up-to-the-minute score, along with information from around SB Nation on the game, keep your browser on this Heat-Mavs score page. Throughout the NBA Finals, check out our 2011 NBA Finals hub for more coverage. For more on the two teams, Mavericks fans should head over to Mavs Moneyball and SB Nation Dallas, while Heat fans should check out Peninsula Is Mightier.

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Dwyane Wade Still Dominating As Third Quarter Begins

Dwyane Wade and the Miami Heat have picked up exactly where they left off in at the end of the second quarter, starting the third quarter with the same energy as they have jumped out to a five point lead. Wade has been the catalyst for that, and he now has 23 points and five assist. The last two baskets were all about him, and both game in stunning fashion.

The second to last bucket was scored by Wade himself as he got out in transition, absolutely embarrassed Dirk Nowitzki as he blew by him, then finished with a reverse dunk. Immediately afterwards, DeShawn Stevenson committed a terrible turnover, giving the ball right to Wade. The Heat got out on the break and LeBron James floated to the basket, giving Wade an easy alley-oop target. Wade threw the lob and James put in the lay-up, causing Rick Carlisle to call timeout.

As of that timeout, Miami are on a 15-1 run. Dallas were well in control of the game just five minutes of game time ago, but they really need to sort themselves out.

For live coverage of Game 2 of the NBA Finals, keep it tuned to this StoryStream. To see the up-to-the-minute score, along with information from around SB Nation on the game, keep your browser on this Heat-Mavs score page. Throughout the NBA Finals, check out our 2011 NBA Finals hub for more coverage. For more on the two teams, Mavericks fans should head over to Mavs Moneyball and SB Nation Dallas, while Heat fans should check out Peninsula Is Mightier.

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Heat Vs. Mavericks Score, Game 2: Tie Game At Halftime, Dwyane Wade Dominant

LeBron James is playing a decent game while Chris Bosh is playing poorly, but Dwyane Wade is doing enough for the both of them, scoring 22 points in absolutely spectacular fashion in the first half. The Dallas Mavericks had a nine point lead with just three minutes remaining in the second quarter, but the Miami Heat went on a 9-0 run to end the quarter, and as a result the score is tied at 51-51 at halftime.

The Mavericks have been all about a team effort offensively, with Dirk Nowitzki turning in a decent, if unspectacular performance. Eight of the nine Mavericks who have entered the game have scored, with the only scoreless player being Peja Stojakovic, who had a hilariously poor five minutes. 

At one point, Dallas had a massive positive margin in rebounds and free throws made, but both of those positive margins have disappeared after that incredible final three minutes of the quarter. Dallas had complete control of the game, but that is now gone. It will be interesting to see if they can bounce back from their setback in the third quarter.

For live coverage of Game 2 of the NBA Finals, keep it tuned to this StoryStream. To see the up-to-the-minute score, along with information from around SB Nation on the game, keep your browser on this Heat-Mavs score page. Throughout the NBA Finals, check out our 2011 NBA Finals hub for more coverage. For more on the two teams, Mavericks fans should head over to Mavs Moneyball and SB Nation Dallas, while Heat fans should check out Peninsula Is Mightier.

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Miami Heat Dominating Highlight Reel, Is Still Somehow Losing

With three minutes remaining in the second quarter of Game 2 of the NBA Finals, the Miami Heat are making highlight reel play after highlight reel play. It's been so great that the announcers are straight up salivating. After LeBron James made a fantastic shot after getting fouled, Mark Jackson exclaimed, regarding the Dallas defense, "I don't understand what you're supposed to do." Jeff Van Gundy replied, simply, "lose."

But wait! The Heat are...losing? By NINE? Yes, the team who is dominating the highlight reel and who has the announcers completely kissing their feet is not only trailing, they're actually getting outplayed in basically every aspect of the game except for circus shots. They have 17 rebounds to Miami's 12 and 11 made free throws to Miami's zero. Yes, the Miami Heat have played 21 minutes of basketball and made zero free throws.

Highlight reel baskets don't do too much for teams who don't rebound or get to the free throw line.

For live coverage of Game 2 of the NBA Finals, keep it tuned to this StoryStream. To see the up-to-the-minute score, along with information from around SB Nation on the game, keep your browser on this Heat-Mavs score page. Throughout the NBA Finals, check out our 2011 NBA Finals hub for more coverage. For more on the two teams, Mavericks fans should head over to Mavs Moneyball and SB Nation Dallas, while Heat fans should check out Peninsula Is Mightier.

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Heat Vs. Mavericks Score Update, Game 2: Mavericks Lead, But Dwyane Wade Taking Over

The Dallas Mavericks lead the Miami Heat by a score of 40-38 at the halfway point of the second quarter of Game 2 of the NBA Finals, but that lead has diminished in the last two minutes. Dwyane Wade is absolutely taking over the game, and he's scored Miami's last six points, including the last two buckets on spectacular dunks. He has 14 points on 7-9 shooting, and he's been far and away the best player on the floor.

Unbelievably, the Miami Heat have not attempted a single free throw to this point in the game. That probably has a lot to do with why, to the naked eye, Miami look like the much better team but Dallas has a narrow lead. The Mavs are getting to the charity stripe and making their free throws. If you're feeling like the Heat have made more shots than the Mavericks to this point, you're absolutely right. 

For live coverage of Game 2 of the NBA Finals, keep it tuned to this StoryStream. To see the up-to-the-minute score, along with information from around SB Nation on the game, keep your browser on this Heat-Mavs score page. Throughout the NBA Finals, check out our 2011 NBA Finals hub for more coverage. For more on the two teams, Mavericks fans should head over to Mavs Moneyball and SB Nation Dallas, while Heat fans should check out Peninsula Is Mightier.

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LeBron James Doing The Spectacular, Mavericks Hanging Tough

LeBron James is doing some of the superhuman things that only LeBron James can do, hitting some spectacular jump shots and throwing down dunks with authority. One standout shot came right at the beginning of the quarter, hitting an unbelievable fade-away jump shot over Shawn Marion as time expired on the shot clock.

After three minutes in the second quarter, James has come out for a rest, and Marion has come out at the same time. It appears that Rick Carlisle is going to rotate his defensive players to match the playing time of the Big Three, and it's probably a good strategy.

Despite the great offensive play of James and Dwyane Wade, the Mavericks are more than matching them right now, as they lead by a score of 39-34 with three minutes gone in the second quarter. It's been a team effort, with no one player standing out as 'the guy' on the offensive end.

For live coverage of Game 2 of the NBA Finals, keep it tuned to this StoryStream. To see the up-to-the-minute score, along with information from around SB Nation on the game, keep your browser on this Heat-Mavs score page. Throughout the NBA Finals, check out our 2011 NBA Finals hub for more coverage. For more on the two teams, Mavericks fans should head over to Mavs Moneyball and SB Nation Dallas, while Heat fans should check out Peninsula Is Mightier.

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Heat Vs. Mavericks Score, Game 2: Game Tied, LeBron James Dunk The Highlight

The Miami Heat are leading the Dallas Mavericks after the first quarter of Game 2, mostly due to Dwyane Wade's scoring and their team defense, but LeBron James stole the show with two minutes remaining in the quarter. Off of a missed three-point attempt by Mike Bibby, James was not boxed out and was able to grab the offensive rebound, then throw down an emphatic highlight reel dunk in one swift, fluid motion.

For some reason - either strategic or injury related - Dirk Nowitzki only played for eight minutes in the first quarter. His finger hasn't appeared to affect his shooting at all, as he's made a couple of absolutely gorgeous jump shots. That finger doesn't appear to be bothering him at all, so it's tough to figure out why he sat for four minutes.

At the end of the first quarter, the teams are tied up at a score of 28-28. Compared to Monday night's game, the offense in this one has been absolutely sensational. Incredibly, neither team is playing bad defense. This is just excellent, entertaining, great all-around basketball.

For live coverage of Game 2 of the NBA Finals, keep it tuned to this StoryStream. To see the up-to-the-minute score, along with information from around SB Nation on the game, keep your browser on this Heat-Mavs score page. Throughout the NBA Finals, check out our 2011 NBA Finals hub for more coverage. For more on the two teams, Mavericks fans should head over to Mavs Moneyball and SB Nation Dallas, while Heat fans should check out Peninsula Is Mightier.

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Dirk Nowitzki Sits, Both Offenses Start To Slow Down

Well, that was predictable. Possibly for strategic reasons to keep him fresh late into the game, possibly because of his injured finger, Rick Carlisle opted to put Dirk Nowitzki on the bench just halfway through the first quarter. Since doing that, over the last three minutes, the offense of the Dallas Mavericks has looked aimless, though they were bailed out of looking terrible statistically by a DeShawn Stevenson three-pointer that caused Erik Spoelstra to call timeout.

Honestly, the Heat offense hasn't looked a whole lot better over the last couple of minutes. It seems like Dirk's departure to the bench has them amped up, and as a result they're not being terribly patient. Similar to Dallas, a three-point shot by Mike Bibby has them looking not so terrible on the box score.

And really, makes like the ones Bibby and Stevenson have so far are the difference between this game and Game 1. Both teams are still playing solid defense, but role players are knocking down their shots at a much higher rate.

For live coverage of Game 2 of the NBA Finals, keep it tuned to this StoryStream. To see the up-to-the-minute score, along with information from around SB Nation on the game, keep your browser on this Heat-Mavs score page. Throughout the NBA Finals, check out our 2011 NBA Finals hub for more coverage. For more on the two teams, Mavericks fans should head over to Mavs Moneyball and SB Nation Dallas, while Heat fans should check out Peninsula Is Mightier.

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Heat Vs. Mavericks, Game 2 Update: Dwyane Wade, DeShawn Stevenson Battle As Mike Breen Stumbles

This game looks like it is going to play out quite a bit differently than Game 1, as both teams' players are looking a little more assertive on offense, and both teams have already made some tough shots. Unlike Game 1, DeShawn Stevenson is guarding Dwyane Wade, and their battle has been entertaining so far. Stevenson is playing fantastic defense and has a basket of his own, but Wade has muscled in a couple of contested shots.

Of course, Stevenson didn't guard Wade to start Game 1, something that Mike Breen, who called the game, does not remember. While the announcers were discussing Stevenson's merits and his status as an underrated player, Breen pointed out that he shut down Wade in the first quarter of Game 1. Except Shawn Marion was guarding Wade during that time period. In a game which, once again, Breen sat courtside for. Oops.

For live coverage of Game 2 of the NBA Finals, keep it tuned to this StoryStream. To see the up-to-the-minute score, along with information from around SB Nation on the game, keep your browser on this Heat-Mavs score page. Throughout the NBA Finals, check out our 2011 NBA Finals hub for more coverage. For more on the two teams, Mavericks fans should head over to Mavs Moneyball and SB Nation Dallas, while Heat fans should check out Peninsula Is Mightier.

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Heat Vs. Mavericks Score Update, Game 2: LeBron James Guarded By Shawn Marion, Dallas Leads

After he spent the beginning of Game 1 of the NBA Finals guarding Dwyane Wade, the Dallas Mavericks' best all-around defender Shawn Marion is guarding LeBron James. James was much more effective than Wade in the first half of Game 1, while DeSean Stevenson has more than enough length to guard Wade. Early on, James is letting his much more open teammates take shots.

Unsurprisingly, Dirk Nowitzki's jump shot has not been affected in the slightest by his left finger injury, as he's already hit one gorgeous jump shot. It's not yet obvious if it will affect his passing, dribbling, or rebounding. He already has an assist, so early signs point to know. With three minutes gone in the first quarter, the Mavs lead by a score of 6-4.

For live coverage of Game 2 of the NBA Finals, keep it tuned to this StoryStream. To see the up-to-the-minute score, along with information from around SB Nation on the game, keep your browser on this Heat-Mavs score page. Throughout the NBA Finals, check out our 2011 NBA Finals hub for more coverage. For more on the two teams, Mavericks fans should head over to Mavs Moneyball and SB Nation Dallas, while Heat fans should check out Peninsula Is Mightier.

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Heat Vs. Mavericks Game 2: TV Schedule, Tip-Off Time And More

Though conventional wisdom is that a series is never over until a team loses at home, the Dallas Mavericks seriously have their backs against the wall in Game 2 of the NBA Finals (9 pm ET, ABC) against the Miami Heat. Miami are undefeated at home so far, so Dallas has a serious mountain to climb, especially with Dirk Nowitzki's injured finger. The game starts at 9 pm Eastern time and can be seen on your local ABC affiliate.

Pre-game, SB Nation Dallas had some thoughts about the team's use of zone defenses and Rick Carlisle's statements that the team is not going to live off of zone defense. This is probably a good call, as Evan Dunlap from SB Nation Dallas explains.

In the regular season, the Heat faced a zone defense on 226 possessions, or just under three possessions per game, according to Synergy Sports Technology. In that limited sample size, they were only marginally less effective against zone defenses (scoring 0.951 points per possession) than against man-to-man defenses (0.955 points per possession). When one weighs the risk of playing zone--which reduces turnover creation and generally leads to weakness on the defensive glass--against its minimal reward against this particular Heat team, it's easy to understand why Carlisle might be tempted to scale back his team's use of zone as the series moves forward.    

Mavs Moneyball focused on the Dallas bench in their pre-game coverage of Game 2, and they had some interesting points to make about JJ Barea, who did not turn in a good performance in Game 1.

Barea also needs try to utilize his most effective weapon off the pick and roll he loves to run: Dirk Nowitzki. Many of Barea's quality looks came from Miami paying extra attention (as they should) to Dirk, and he'd be hurting the team by not taking the open shot or penetrating. But when this doesn't happen, Barea should be specifically looking to get Dirk the ball, something that didn't seem to be a priority for him in Game 1. In a way, getting the ball to Nowitzki when he rolls or pops is one of the highest percentage "shots" JJB can take.

SB Nation's Miami Heat blog Peninsula Is Mightier is super duper confident in the abilities of their own players, so they decided to concentrate most of their writing on the Dallas Mavericks. Dirk Nowitzki has been incredible from the charity stripe in the playoffs, as they explain.

One area that has been stellar for Nowitzki throughout the playoffs is his free throw shooting.  He made all 12 of his foul shots in Game 1, which could act as the beginning of a streak similar to his lights out shooting from the charity stripe in the first three rounds of the playoffs. He made 56-of-57 in Round 1 against Portland, 15-of-16 in Round 2 against the Lakers and 59-of-61 in the Western Conference Finals against Oklahoma City. That equals 97.2%.  That's sick.   

Sick indeed. Check out the game at 9 pm ET on ABC.

For live coverage of Game 2 of the NBA Finals, keep it tuned to this StoryStream. To see the up-to-the-minute score, along with information from around SB Nation on the game, keep your browser on this Heat-Mavs score page. Throughout the NBA Finals, check out our 2011 NBA Finals hub for more coverage. For more on the two teams, Mavericks fans should head over to Mavs Moneyball and SB Nation Dallas, while Heat fans should check out Peninsula Is Mightier.

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The Heat And Mavericks In Game 2, Our Best Chance At An NBA Finals Classic

LeBron James and the Miami Heat look to take control in Game 2 of the NBA Finals, but if Dirk Nowitzki and Dallas can pull of the upset, suddenly it's a whole new series. Either way, here's to hoping for a classic. Plus: Miracle drugs, lockout news, rappers backing the Heat, and showbiz parents at their finest.

Talking Points is a daily series that highlights some of the best stories in sports (and elsewhere). Click here to read the archives.

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Heat Vs. Mavericks, Game 2 Adjustments: Continue Pick-And-Pop Towards Sideline, Put Dirk Nowitzki On Chris Bosh

After losing Game 1, the Dallas Mavericks trail the Miami Heat in the 2011 NBA Finals. With the 2-3-2 Finals format, winning one of the first two games is even more important for the Mavericks, who would have a chance to close out things at home if they can win Game 2. To do so, the Mavericks are going to have to make a few adjustments on both sides of the court.  

Continuing The Sideline Pick-And-Pop

In Game 1, the Heat showed their hand defensively, revealing that they would be determined to keep the basketball out of Dirk Nowitzki's hands and force the rest of his teammates to beat Miami. Maybe the strongest example of this was Miami's pick-and-roll defense when Nowitzki was the screener.  While trapping/hedging hard on the ball man, the Heat sent a third man at Nowitzki, forcing the basketball out of his hands.

Even though the Mavericks performed better in the pick-and-roll during Game 1 vs. their postseason numbers (0.937 points per possession in Game 1 vs. 0.92 in in the playoffs), I still think they left opportunities on the table, and to take better advantage, they should try to run more pick-and-pops with Nowitzki moving toward the sideline.  The reason why it works is because it forces the third defender that Miami is sending at Nowitzki to come from quite a distance (the opposite block).

Here, Nowitzki sets a screen for Jason Terry and pops out towards the corner.  This is by design as it forces LeBron James to come from the opposite corner to make sure Nowitzki doesn't get a clean look off.  Instead of panicking, Nowitzki makes the catch, surveys the area, and spots the open man, hitting him with a pass.  In this case, it is Shawn Marion, who makes the extra pass to Jason Kidd, who hits the shot as the defense attempts to rotate back to him.  The initial rotation and Nowitzki's pass forces Miami to rotate to the basketball, which eventually leaves Kidd open.

What this pick-and-pop towards the corner does is it opens things up for passing/cutting lanes.  This is because with how Miami is defending the pick-and-pop, you now have three defenders on one side of the court covering two defenders.  In the above clip, Chris Bosh steps up to him, forcing a rotation from LeBron to Bosh's man.  This leaves the middle wide open for Marion, who gets the easy lay-in.

Miami was so determined to prevent Nowitzki from beating them that they were even willing to send an extra defender his way before he caught the basketball.  Again, this is where the pick-and-pop toward the corner creates openings.  As Nowitzki pops towards the corner, you see that Dwyane Wade is already way over there, taking the pass to Nowitzki away from him.  That leaves DeShawn Stevenson wide open for the three, one that he takes, and even though he misses it, it is an open look I am sure Dallas would take time after time.

The Mavericks pick-and-roll game all postseason has been designed to get Nowitzki, Terry or J.J. Barea open.  With the way Miami is defending the pick-and-roll, neither of those things are going to happen constantly. However, if they do run their pick-and-pop towards the corner, they will be able to get open shots for guys like Kidd, Peja Stojakovic and Stevenson.  If they are able to make Miami pay for the way they are defending the pick-and-pop, Dallas can force Miami to make adjustments and maybe open things up for guys like Dirk, Terry and Barea.  

Switch Nowitzki On Bosh

Much has been made of Miami's success against Dallas and their zone defense (20 points on 18 zone possessions); nine of those points came off of shots that Dallas was willing to give up (threes by guys like Mike Miller and Mario Chalmers).  Perhaps more troubling for Dallas was their man-to-man defense in the front court, where they had Nowitzki covering Joel Anthony and Tyson Chandler covering Bosh.

Now the idea of putting Nowitzki on Anthony makes sense because you are going to hide a pretty poor defender (Nowitzki) on a poor offensive player (Anthony).  However, Anthony has an incredible work rate on the offensive glass, and that is where Nowitzki and the Mavericks got burned:

With Nowitzki covering Anthony, he got absolutely bullied whenever a shot went up.  It wasn't even because Nowitzki wasn't trying to box out, because he was, but Anthony just outworked and outmuscled Nowitzki, leading to offensive rebounds and second-chance points for Miami.  

While Anthony gave Nowitzki a lot of trouble, Chandler had trouble himself trying to defend Bosh on the outside:

Chandler is far more comfortable defending in the paint and being a help defender.  When he is covering Bosh, he can't really do either of those things.  He can't protect the paint because Bosh is an outside shooter and he is pulling him away from the rim.  Also, Bosh is usually the screener in Miami's pick-and-roll sets, meaning Chandler is defending the pick-and-roll rather than helping on it on the Heat's pick-and-roll in the video clip above, Stojakovic is the man ranging over and helping (a huge dropoff from Chandler, who is normally the man who protects the paint). 

What switching Nowitzki onto Bosh and Chandler onto Anthony means is it allows Chandler to be that guy to protect the paint, something he has been doing all season.  Also, Nowitzki isn't going to get posted on a ton because Bosh is more of a face-up outside shooting type of big instead of a back to the basket guy, so Nowitzki on Bosh isn't a huge match-up problem.

If the Mavs put Chandler on Anthony, they will be able to limit the Heat's dominance on the offensive glass because now Chandler is boxing out Anthony.  What this means is that they are able to grab the defensive boards and run out, something that Dallas wants to do more of in Game 2.

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For The Dallas Mavericks, Rick Carlise's Adjustments Key In Game 2

The Miami Heat used defense and Dwyane Wade to pull away from the Dirk Nowitzki and the Mavericks in Game 1 of the NBA Finals. In Game 2, it's up to Dallas to adjust.

For one thing, ow will they account for Miami's speed? Dallas has been outstanding on offense all playoffs long, but they've yet to face a team that can cover as much ground on defense as Miami did in Game 1. Plus, there's questions surrounding the lineups the Mavs will play. 

Will they use more of Deshawn Stevenson, who only played 14 minutes in Game 1? Stevenson's probably the one Dallas player who's best equipped to stop Dwyane Wade and/or LeBron James in one-on-one situations, yet Mavs' coach Rick Carlise went with guys like Peja Stojakovic and Jason Terry instead.

If those guys can't provide offense, how long will Carlise stick with them in Game 2? And with Dallas coming off a game where the Heat beat them badly on the boards, it'll likely be up to Carlise to come up with a few lineups that mitigate that advantage. The for Dallas comes down to balance.

In Game 1, the Mavericks pinned their hopes to their bench scoring, hoping that guys like J.J. Barea and Peja Stojakovic could provide enough offense to mitigate their weaknesses (rebounding, defense). That didn't work out so well. Now, it's up to the Mavs to find a formula that works.

If Barea, Peja, and Jason Terry can all bounce back, then there's a good chance things will a lot more competitive this time around. If not, than Dallas' coaching staff will have some tough decisions to make. If their go-to bench weapons can't beat the Heat, than how long will Rick Carlisle stick with them before finding someone who can?

There's a lot of questions surrounding Dallas right now, and whether it's Barea and Peja or Rick Carlisle switching things up, it'll be up to the Mavs to answer. If not, we could be in for another loud statement from the Heat in Game 2.

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Heat Vs. Mavericks: How Defense Could Decide The NBA Finals

Dirk Nowitzki played well in Game 1 of the NBA Finals, but the Miami Heat were able to walk away with a win for one reason--defense. They played Dirk just well enough to contain him, and kept everyone else from doing anything. It's been the story of the playoffs so far.

While LeBron James and Dwyane Wade have rightfully earned the lion's share of headlines, it's been the Heat defense that's kept the other team's superstars from ever going off.

In other words, the Heat defense contains someone like Dirk Nowitzki, and keeps him from stealing the spotlight from Wade and James. What's more, in Game 1 on Tuesday night, the Miami D harassed Dallas' bench scorers (Jason Terry, Peja Stojakovic, J.J. Barea) into an abysmal 4-21 shooting night. How'd they do it? With speed.

As Beckley Mason writes at Hoops Speak, "the Heat defense sprinted around the court, chasing the ball while the Mavericks, many doing little more than maintaining perfect spacing, whipped the rock from side to side. The Mavs created mismatches and forced wild closeouts. ... But as fast as the Mavericks moved the ball, there were times when the Heat defense was faster. Carlisle’s guys missed shots they normally make, but some of that should be attributed to their surprise at the ground Miami so rapidly covered. Even when left with customary time and space, Dallas looked rushed." And it was Miami's D that was rushing them.

With the defense swarming Dirk Nowitzki every time he touches the ball, it forces him into split-second decisions and throws the Mavs offense out of rhythm. Basically, facing the Heat forces Dallas to play twice as fast, lest they get caught by Miami's defenders, and harassed with on-ball pressure.

It's a subtle wrinkle that doesn't show up in the matchups, but it's also a good example of why, maybe, the Mavs' struggles in Game 1 weren't just coincidence. It was much harder for the Mavericks to get comfortable in Game 1. If that continues in Game 2, don't be surprised if the headlines go to Wade and James all over again. All because of that pesky Miami defense...

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Heat Vs. Mavericks, Game 2: LeBron James, Miami Seek 2-0 Lead In NBA Finals

The Miami Heat won a convincing if competitive Game 1 over the Dallas Mavericks to start the 2011 NBA Finals on Tuesday, and on Thursday look to strap on a 2-0 lead as the teams reconvene at the AmericanAirlines Arena in South Beach (9 p.m. ET, ABC). Some of the Game 1 proceedings went totally as planned -- Miami's triptych of All-Stars in LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh were great, Dirk Nowitzki scored plenty of points (27), and defense ruled the day. But there were some surprises, too.

Central among them was the bench disparity ... where the Heat outscored the Mavericks 27-17. Dallas' depth was supposed to be a difference-maker, or at least an equalizer, given Miami's superior top-line talent. But Jason Terry shot just 3-10 -- LeBron guarded him down the stretch, flummoxing everyone, but especially Terry himself -- and J.J. Barea, hero of the playoffs, made one of eight shots. On the other end, Mario Chalmers (12 points) made up for Mike Bibby's spell of invisibility.

Will that continue in Game 2? Note that LeBron played 45 minutes in Game 1; Wade and Bosh received normal rest (10 minutes apiece), but Erik Spoelstra is not chancing much rest for his MVP. (Understandably so.) Even if the benches get back to normal, LeBron is almost always going to be the game, and chances are both Wade and Bosh will be in there too. If they are, it's hard to imagine Terry or Barea going ballistic.

Dirk, however, could easily improve on his Game 1 performance; he missed some makeable shots around the rim and is a good enough passer to punish the Heat's swarming defense. Of course, the status of his finger -- he tore a tendon on his non-shooting left hand in Game 1 -- could hurt Nowitzki's ability to make those passes and take his defender off the dribble. Miami pushed to keep Dirk from getting into the middle of court in Game 1; they may decide to take away his right hand in Game 2 to test the injury.

Be sure to check out our 2011 NBA Finals hub for updates on injuries to Nowitzki and Mike Miller. For more on the Heat, visit Peninsula Is Mightier. For more on the Mavericks, visit Mavs Moneyball and SB Nation Dallas.

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