LeBron James and Dwyane Wade came to prove a point, Dirk Nowitzki just to get through the night. The Miami Heat came win and play basketball, the Dallas Mavericks came for a coronation. The 105-94 scoreline isn’t close to the truth about a game that wasn’t close from the first moment.
A year after the Heat came to Los Angeles and manhandled the defending champions, the Los Angeles Lakers, they came to Big D and did it to the Mavs, making the 2010-2011 look rusty, unprepared and simply not up to par, even if it’s so early in the season.
Again, like a year ago, it was LeBron James who stood above the rest. He scored 37 points, adding 10 rebounds, six assists, 2 steals and 2 blocks. Dwyane Wade lent a hand with 26 points, 8 rebounds and six assists. The rest? All doing their part, Chris Bosh as well, who struggled with foul trouble. It didn’t matter. Everyone played incredible defense for three quarters, which was enough to finish the game.
Udonis Haslem, described by some as the best free agent signing by the Heat this season after he played only 13 games last season and was rusty at best in his playoff appearance, was fantastic with 14 rebounds and great defense on Dirk Nowitzki. Defense, again, which made Miami such a great team last season, creating so many of their points, was the key last night.
It makes the Heat capable of running. No team, especially not the Mavericks, who were slow, almost lazy last night, defend fast breaks well enough to run with the Heat. LeBron James and Dwyane Wade are in your paint before you realized you lost the ball. It happened more than once on Christmas, with Mario Chalmers finishing with four steals and rookie Norris Cole also impressed off the bench.
If anything, the Mavs were missing Tyson Chandler. Vince Carter finished with 5 points. Lamar Odom scored six points before getting ejected while shooting 1-6 from the field. Dirk Nowitzki finished with 21 points, but those were soft points, that made no difference. The Heat went home early, taking the fourth quarter off, allowing the Mavericks to come back from more than 30 points down.
What about Chandler? Dallas had no blocked shots. They grabbed only 8 offensive rebounds compared to the Heats’ 15. Chandler had six blocked shots for the Knicks earlier as they beat the Boston Celtics. A world of difference.
The night belonged to LeBron James, as we said. His kind of basketball, and his aggresivness, not from the get go but as the game progressed, was what the Heat missed, among other things, back in June. The Heat looked like the most prepared time for the new season during the exhibition games, and despite their 22 turnovers, they looked like the strongest team in the East from an early snapshot.
James? If he’s like this, in this mindset at least, cause the Heat won’t have it easy offensively most nights, on defense and aggressive offensively, the MVP is his for the taking. Kevin Durant can score just as well, but he doesn’t dominate a game the same way LeBron does when inspiration kicks in.