MIAMI — The Dallas Mavericks just learned a valuable if costly lesson: The team they’re facing in the NBA Finals is not in any way the Los Angeles Lakers.
The Miami Heat are made of closers. They are battle-tested and not in the slightest fatigued. They are unified. And their championship days are still ahead of them, not behind them.
If the Mavericks hope to put off the South Beach coronation by a year or so, it’s best they adjust to that fact. Quickly.
Because the guys from South Beach have used a season of hate, doubt and isolation to turn themselves from late-game weaklings into cold-blooded killers.
“We always said we would figure it out,” LeBron James said after his team won Game 1 of the NBA Finals, 92-84, Tuesday night. “We always believed in our abilities. We always believed as a team. Everything we went through, the pitfalls and the downs, was going to turn and make its course.
“We just stuck with it and understood it.”……Through all they endured, the Miami Heat were, to be sure, a remarkably talented team. They were so talented that their coming together, and how it happened, changed the league and each of the Big Three’s interactions with fans.
In powering past the Mavericks to claim a 1-0 series lead, that talent again was front and center. Dwyane Wade returned to form when his team needed him most, scoring 15 of his 22 points in the second half on a night in which he added 10 rebounds and six assists.
LeBron James was again magnificent with his 24 points, nine rebounds and five assists. And Chris Bosh, despite 5-of-18 shooting, bridged key moments early in the game when Wade was still floundering and LeBron was not taking as many shots.
But those three alone are not what make Miami so dangerous.
It’s their sudden surge of late-game greatness — a killer instinct that’s surfaced in these playoffs — that differentiates the Heat from other teams the Mavericks cast aside on their way to the Finals.