This has turned into an interesting rivalry and no doubt Mavs fans are hoping for a return to something more like the 2011 NBA finals. The year didn’t start out that way as the reigning 2012 champs gave the new-look Mavs a smackdown.
Nevertheless, if the Dallas Mavericks were hoping to get any momentum after a convincing defeat of the Philadelphia 76ers on Tuesday night, the next stretch of games might prove to be a major obstacle. They will face the Memphis Grizzlies, the San Antonio Spurs and the Oklahoma City Thunder and it begins Thursday night against the Miami Heat.
The Heat added to a championship roster signing Ray Allen over the offseason so they’ve only gotten better. LeBron James continues to make his mark as the dominant player of the latest generation, leading the Heat in scoring at over 25 points a game as well as grabbing 8.5 rebounds and dishing out 6.9 assists. He is shooting nearly 54% from the field and over 42% from downtown and he’s a good defender. Then he has help from Dwayne Wade, Chris Bosh and now Ray Allen.
Strangely enough, the Heat rank 30th in the NBA in rebounding, one of the few teams even worse than the Mavericks. If the Mavericks can assert themselves under the glass it could be a game changer. Otherwise, the Heat are excellent offensively (4th in points allowed) and average defensively (16th) and they are getting it done at 16-6.
The Mavericks would likely do well to not try and play small ball against the Heat, which is a game they surely can’t win. Exploiting strong post play as they did against Philadelphia is more likely to succeed as the Heat has fewer tools to defend it. That may be a challenge, however, with Brandan Wright and Elton Brand both game-time decisions nursing injuries.
And of course limiting the turnovers, which will also be tougher without Derek Fisher, who is slated to miss perhaps 3 games.
This will be a good opportunity for the Mavs to prove they can’t compete with one of the league’s elite teams and if it doesn’t work out, they’ll have more in the next few days.