PLAYOFF SERIES: NBA finals; Mavericks lead 1-0.
With many players from the Miami Heat and Dallas Mavericks appearing in their first NBA finals, Game 1 featured some sloppy play from both teams. Now, each club hopes the jitters are behind them as the series resumes in Dallas after a two-day break.
On Thursday, Dirk Nowitzki had just 16 points for the Mavs while Heat stars Dwyane Wade and Shaquille O’Neal combined for 45 points. Dallas, though, won 90-80 behind Jason Terry’s 32 points to take a 1-0 lead in the series.
Wade had 28 points, six rebounds and six assists, but went 6-for-10 from the free-throw line and committed five of Miami’s 15 turnovers. O’Neal, meanwhile, hit just one of his nine attempts from the line while finishing with 17 points, seven rebounds and five assists.
“I know that if I want my team to win a championship, I have to step up to the line and hit them,” O’Neal said. “And I will. I was just thinking about it a little too much. We still had a lot of opportunities to win the game, and on Sunday, look for me to shoot a little bit better.”
Terry probably can’t shoot much better than he did in Game 1. The seventh-year guard went 13-for-18 from the field, including 4-for-7 from 3-point range, and hit both free-throw attempts to lead the Mavs.
Terry said playing in the finals didn’t affect him at all.
“It’s just another game,” he said. “The rims are still 10 feet (high).”
Nowitzki, who shot 4-for-14 Thursday, felt differently.
“I thought we were a little frozen up,” he said. “It’s a big stage. Nobody has really been here before besides (coach) Avery (Johnson). … We weren’t making shots. We weren’t making good plays, not swinging the ball.”
Johnson, the NBA coach of the year, won a title while playing with San Antonio in 1999.
“I think they’ve gotten it out of their system now,” Johnson said. “We had some jitters … and they know we didn’t play a perfect game. We obviously have a lot of room for improvement. We didn’t meet our goals offensively and defensively.”
Johnson’s counterpart, Heat coach Pat Riley, said his team should be anxious to get back on the court after its performance in Game 1.
“They should be disgusted,” Riley said Friday. “Disgusted and frustrated.”
Wade admitted to being tired in the opener after battling flu-like symptoms and a sinus infection for a week leading up to this series, but said that was no excuse for the way the Heat played.
“Defensively was not there mentally or physically for this ballclub,” Wade said. “We come out, and—if I know this team—we will respond to the challenge, come out and be better defensively and give ourselves a chance to win in Game 2.”
O’Neal, meanwhile, will probably get the ball more in Game 2 after taking just 11 shots Thursday.
“The burden is always going to be on me and I’ve accepted that ever since 1992,” O’Neal said. “Whenever we don’t play well, I take a lot of it on my shoulders, anyway. The key is not to have two games like that in a row. So I’ll be hard on myself these next two days. And then hopefully on Sunday, I could play a little bit better.”
Nowitzki will also be looking to play better after being held under 20 points in Game 1 for just the second time this postseason.
“They made me put ball on floor and got ball out of my hands,” Nowitzki said. “But we played well defensively and Jason made shots and carried us all game. … We got the first one out of the way. Now we can make some adjustments, look at some film.”
The series shifts to Miami for Game 3 on Tuesday.
HOW THEY GOT HERE: Heat - 2nd seed, Eastern Conference; beat Chicago Bulls 4-2, first round; beat New Jersey Nets 4-1, semifinals; beat Detroit Pistons 4-2, finals. Mavericks - 4th seed, Western Conference; beat Memphis Grizzlies 4-0, first round; beat San Antonio Spurs 4-3, semifinals; beat Phoenix Suns 4-2, finals.
PLAYOFF TEAM LEADERS: Heat - Wade, 26.3 ppg and 6.4 apg; O’Neal, 9.5 rpg. Mavericks - Nowitzki, 27.7 ppg and 11.8 rpg; Terry, 3.7 apg.