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MIAMI (CBSMiami.com) – The Miami Heat came into Game 1 of the NBA Finals Tuesday night looking to make a statement. After battling back an forth with the Mavs, the Heat opened up a double digit lead with a Wade to LeBron dunk as the final exclamation point in a 92-84 victory and a 1-0 lead in the Finals.
As the final horn sounded, the Heat had four players on the court with at least 12 points. LeBron led the Heat with 24 points, while Dwyane Wade chipped in 22 points and Chris Bosh added 19 for the Heat.
For the Mavericks, even 27 points from Dirk Nowitzki wasn’t enough to get them past the Heat’s stellar defense throughout the second half. Dallas struggled matching athleticism with the Heat and LeBron and Wade decided to make this game one for Heat fans to savor.
The Heat have been favorites to get to the NBA Finals for most of the year, but when the ball finally tipped off at the beginning of the game, the crowd made it known they thought this series would be a quick series for the Heat.
LeBron James opened up strong for the Heat and was diving for the ball halfway through the first quarter. For James, this series is crucial for his legacy as he tries to rebuild his image after the infamous “decision.”
But just as big for the Heat will be Chris Bosh. He started out hot from the field, but it was early in the first quarter and both teams were still trying to feel each other out.
The crowd remained jacked up throughout the first quarter as the Heat opened up a lead of as much as five points, but you could tell both teams very tense.
Neither team was shooting well at the end of the first quarter. Both teams shot below 30 percent in the first quarter, which is a testament to both teams defense so far.
As the Heat dancers danced to “Girls, Girls, Girls” by Motley Crue, the question for Heat coach Erik Spoelstra was how to make his motley crew continue shutting down the Mavericks, while getting on track on the defensive end.
At the end of the first quarter, the Heat were down by 1 point, 17-16.
During the second quarter, it started out as a game of back and forth throughout much of the quarter. Heat fans hoping the team would just run away with it were out of luck because neither team could open up much of a lead.
Bosh and LeBron continued to pace the Heat throughout the first half. At one point with roughly 4:30 to go in the second quarter, their fellow Big Three member Dwyane Wade stopped for dinner and a movie before draining a wide-open three pointer to put the Heat ahead.
But Dallas came right back as Dirk Nowitzki, or as he was trending on Twitter “Dirk NoRingski,” started to get hot. He hit a three and a quick two to push the Mavericks ahead.
The Heat responded when Mario Chalmers hit a three pointer to tie the game at 38 with a little more than 1:30 to go in the quarter.
CBS4′s Jorge Sedano, and many other media members, were dumbfounded near the end of the second quarter when the Mavs were making wholesale substitutions without a timeout and the refs kept letting guys come from deep on the bench.
The Heat’s Mike Miller missed a three-pointer to end the first half and that miss left the Heat behind, 44-43 at the half.
The Mavericks came out hotter than the Heat did in the third quarter, but it was still obvious that Wade looked like he was injured, regardless of his public pronouncement.
For the Heat, they settled for outside jumpers and when they do that in a game, it’s never a good thing. It’s what NBA teams have been trying to do all season long and in the playoffs the Heat have overcome it.
Close to the end of the third quarter, LeBron finally decided to dial in to his immense talent. He hit a three pointer with a little over a minute to go, but saved his best for the end of the third.
LeBron took the ball with four seconds to go, drifted right, and drained about a 27-foot three pointer to end the third quarter. It ignited the crowd like nothing else has the entire night.
The two Mavericks fans near courtside didn’t clap during halftime, didn’t move, just stood there with their arms crossed.
For the game, the Heat struggled at the free throw line, shooting just 67 percent for the game. As the game enters into the fourth and final quarter, the Heat lead the Mavs, 65-61.
During the fourth quarter, the Heat managed to build a five poiht lead with a little more than 6 minutes to go in the game. But as well as Bosh played to start the game, he became especially passive in the fourth quarter and repeatedly drew groans from the crowd.
Bosh passed up several easy shots and could’ve driven to the rim at least three times halfway through the fourth quarter against guys much shorter than him. But Bosh continually let the game pass him by throghout much of the fourth quarter.
But as crunch time hit in the final 4 minutes of the game it became the Dwyane Wade show as he hit a clutch three-pointer with just over 3 minutes to go to extend the Heat’s lead to 82-73.
Then, it was LeBron James time. With 2:48 to go in the fourth quarter, he blew right past the Mavs’ Shawn Marion and threw it down with authority. Along with a free throw, LeBron’s shot extended the Heat’s lead to ten points.
The Heat were aided by Jason Terry of the Mavs who went ice cold in the second half. He missed multiple three pointers for the Mavs, especially one with 1:50 to go in the fourth.
But the Mavericks weren’t about to roll over, they chipped away at Miami’s lead and brought it down to just six points with key free throws from Nowitzki.
The just as quickly as the lead was cut, the Heat scored two straight baskets, including a dunk by Chris Bosh to extend the lead back to 10 with just 1:08 to go.
Then it was time for LeBron and Dwyane Wade to put an exclamation point on the game. Dwyane Wade threw the lob to LeBron who demolished the rim with a dunk to send Dallas back to the drawing board for Game 2.
Both teams will return to the court on Thursday night to do battle in Game 2. After that, the next 3 games will be in Dallas. If Games 6 and 7 are needed, the series will return to Miami.