Game one unfolded just as we predicted here on the Sports Geek – close ball game, with the Heat in control, then the defensive clamps of Wade, Bosh, Haslem and especially LeBron tighten – and the game is over.
So can the Mavs get the vital equalizer tonight in Miami, or are they going to fall into a difficult-to-recover-from 2-0 hole?
Let’s move on to the Finals breakdown and tonight’s free pick…
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Today’s Free NBA Picks:
Dallas Mavericks @ Miami Heat -4.5 (Total: 179)
Any breakdown has to start with the most pressing and obvious question; “How will Dirk’s injured finger on his non-shooting hand influence his shooting in Game Two?” Because unless the answer is “not at all” I think it also becomes the answer to “How much of a chance do the Mavs have in this series?”
Dirk says he’s “fine.” So does Rick Carlisle. But I find it hard to believe Halsem, Bosh and LeBron aren’t salivating at the sight of blood in the water, sensing an injured superstar in their midst. I love Jason Terry’s positive mind-set, stating that “sometimes an injury on the non-shooting hand actually helps a shooter, because it forces you to lock in more.”
Um. Ok Jason, whatever you say. I love the sentiment, but not its validity. It is also going to affect Dirk’s ability to put the ball on the deck, to catch tough passes in traffic and he will experience some pain on the defensive end from all the inevitable jostling and bumping and cajoling.
For Miami, the only concern I can foresee is whether or not they can still win as easily on a night when their three point shooting returns to normal. James and Wade were a combined 4 of 5 behind the arc, and Mario Chalmers added another two makes from distance. That totals six made three pointers by a trio not noted for long-range acumen. Add in the fact the Mavs shot a dismal 37% from the floor (and they were the best shooting team in the NBA in terms of FG% in the regular season), and there is at least reason to stay very alert if you are a Heat fan (not that there seems to be any outside of Miami…)
So – was the poor shooting from the Mavs just that; poor shooting? Or was the shooting attributable to something less fleeting and far more permanent; the fierce oppression of the Heat’s smothering defense?
I’m going to pick the latter. The Mavs will shoot better than 37% the rest of this series, and Dirk, injury and all, will still get his shots and his points. But in the end, the defense in South Beach is just on a level this league hasn’t seen in 15 years (Chicago 1996); one that is seemingly getting better with each passing game and each increase in intensity and pressure.
I’m sticking with the Heat. I told you to pick them far before it was fashionable, and I’m not bailing now that it has become the trendy thing to do.
Lay the points. Take the Heat. Rinse. Repeat. It’s getting that routine, but I feel just as solid in this pick as I did in Game One.