NBA Finals Game One Review

By Eric Williams
Updated: June 9, 2006

DALLAS—All I can say after watching game one is that the Miami Heat may be in more trouble than I originally anticipated. If the Dallas Mavericks can pull out a 10-point victory after having their best player, all-world power forward, Dirk Nowitzki, and multi-talented wingman, Josh Howard, shoot a combined 7-28 and still manage to win, then vacation time may begin on South Beach earlier than I expected.

Here’s my breakdown on the opening game of the 2005-06 NBA finals.

First quarter

Miami 31 Dallas 23

One of the first things I noticed when this game began was the Miami Heat’s calm demeanor. The Heat began this game as if it were a nonchalant pickup game being played on the asphalt that is the Dallas Mavericks parking lot. Led by the stellar play of Dwayne Wade, the Heat jumped out to an eight-point lead after one quarter. However, that lead never seemed as big as the scoreboard indicated.

Although the Heat played absolutely outstanding basketball in the opening quarter, the Mavs never seemed to be rattled themselves – and although their defense was spotty at best – they were clearly still in the game.

Second Quarter

Dallas 23 Miami 13

Oh my! The second quarter was as like night and day for both teams. The Mavs turned on the gas towards the end of the period and the Heat couldn’t buy a basket if they tried. Dallas came back from a double-digit deficit to take a two-point lead – and more importantly – the momentum – into the half. As the Mavs started their comeback, all I could sit and think of was, ‘Yeah, like the Mavs needed that 10-0 run and Dirk Nowitzki’s last second jumper.’ I was also extremely impressed with Jason Terry, who was confident but in a focused sort of way.

Third quarter

Dallas 24 Miami 24

It seemed to me that both teams were really trying to figure out the other in this period. Neither team played particularly well and the Mavs squandered several opportunities to increase their lead. If either team wanted to take control of this game, it wasn’t apparent from the play of the third quarter.

Fourth quarter

Dallas20 Miami 12

Looking back at this game, I find it amazing that the Mavericks held the Heat to only 25 points in the second and fourth quarters combined. The Mavs went into the half with a run and finished off the game with another. Miami was absolutely dreadful from the free throw line and Jason Terry was raining jumpers from all over like he was the second coming of Reggie Miller or somebody.

Dirk Nowitzki never could find the hole and Shaq was equally atrocious . What won this game for the Mavs was once again – gasp – their newfound defense.

The transformation the Mavs have undergone this season under head coach Avery Johnson, has been nothing short of spectacular and was one of the reasons I gave Johnson the nod over the venerable Pat Riley in the coaching department when putting together my NBA finals preview.

In short, if Dallas continues to play at this level defensively, then it looks like the Heat are going to need several superhuman efforts from Shaq and D-Wade just to stay In this series – let alone win it.