After a fourth-quarter surge in Game One, the Heat have momentum heading into Thursday night's second game against the Dallas Mavericks in Miami.
The Heat are attempting to hold home-court advantage, while the Mavericks went into the series realistically hoping for a split in Miami.
In Game One, Dirk Nowitzki led all scorers with 27 points, and Shawn Marion added 16 points and 10 rebounds. But the rest of the Mavs failed to make an impact.
Miami looked sharp on Tuesday, mainly because they hadn't shown signs of physical strain. This is a team that hasn't tired in the playoffs, and that endurance has spilled over into the series with the Mavericks.
The Heat were led by LeBron James, who scored 24 to go along with nine rebounds. It was his first win in the NBA Finals, and there will likely be many more to come for the superstar.
Tonight's game will be a test for the Mavericks to see if they can regroup after a sluggish performance in Game One. The Mavs were a team with a strong presence from the perimeter, but failed to hit some important outside shots on Tuesday.
WHAT TO EXPECT TONIGHT
This Mavs will come out with more intensity, and pass the ball better to work for better shots. Jason Terry had a poor night in Game One, and likely won't repeat that. The veteran is good at bouncing back after subpar performances.
Dallas will also post up Nowitzki more, even with his finger problem that really isn't serious. The 7'0 forward is capable of falling away and hitting difficult shots, or going to his right and penetrating past tall defenders, and he can be counted on to do more of both in Game Two.
For Miami, tonight's game plan might be a case of if it ain't broke, don't fix it. The Heat will use the same strategy of getting James, Chris Bosh, and Dwyane Wade as many touches as possible in Game Two. The Mavericks defended all three of those players well, but when they're on their game, there's no stopping them.
But the Heat may feel that they were fortunate that certain shots were dropping, and might consider finding Udonis Haslem a bit more. It wouldn't be surprising if Haslem plays a little more than 30 minutes and takes 10-to-12 shots.
The Mavericks are in an interesting situation. They want the Heat to shoot more jumpshots, but when outside shots don't fall, they often have long rebounds, and that means more offensive rebounds. In Game One, the Heat had 16 offensive rebounds, and that spelled doom for Dallas.
Dallas will probably be a little more physical. Tyson Chandler and Brendan Haywood combined for five blocks and eight fouls, but the rest of the Mavericks will also need to pick up the slack. If they force the Heat into turnovers, it can turn into a more high-octane game.
The higher the score, the better the chances for the Mavericks to even the series. Dallas wants to keep the Heat shooting, and shooting bad shots.
Miami liked the pace of Game One, and want to repeat it. More possessions where the 24-second shot clock winds down to within three seconds is highly-likely when the Heat have the ball, and the Mavericks have to be cautious of a slower game.
PREDICTION: The Mavericks get quality shot selection from Nowitzki, Terry, and Marion, and it leads to a higher scoring game. Marion will pressure James to take bad shots, which means James will act more like a point guard, and distribute to Wade, Bosh, and Mike Miller, and that's sometimes a good thing. Dallas, however, gets clutch free-throw shooting in the fourth quarter, as the game stays tight for most of the way.
SCORE PREDICTION: Dallas 94, Miami 91