Setting the Table: Miami Heat (Game 33)

Posted by Bryan Gutierrez on January 2, 2013 under Previews | Be the First to Comment

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The Dallas Mavericks (13-19) are looking to finish their Eastern Conference back-to-back on a good note as they take on the Miami Heat (21-8). Dallas ended their six-game losing skid against the Washington Wizards. The Mavericks are 2-6 in the second half of a back-to-back this season. The Mavericks have 16 back-to-backs in 2012-13, with only one stretch of four games in five nights. In total, 10 back-to-backs are on the road, three begin at home and conclude on the road and three are road-to-home. Dallas played 22 back-to-backs in 2011-12, going 7-15 in the first half and 13-9 in the second half of those back-to-backs. They are looking to win back-to-back games for the first time since they won three games in a row from Dec. 6 through Dec. 10.

Here are the notes for the game between the Mavericks and the Heat.

Series Notes:

The Heat took the first meeting between the two teams this season, 110-95, at Dallas on Dec. 20, 2012. Miami has now won three straight regular season meetings with the Mavericks. The Heat will look to sweep the season series with the Mavericks for the second consecutive year with a victory at Miami with today’s game. Miami snapped a 14-game losing streak against the Mavericks in the regular season with a 105-94 win at Dallas on Dec. 25, 2011. It was the Heat’s first victory over the Mavericks in the regular season since Mar. 26, 2004, a 119-118 overtime-win at Miami. The Heat then won 106-85 at Miami on Mar. 19,2012 to take the 2011-12 season series, 2-0. The loss on Mar. 29, 2012 snapped the Mavericks’ seven-game winning streak at Miami.

Despite losing the last three matchups with Miami, Dallas has still taken 17 of the last 21 regular-season meetings between the two teams. Dallas won the first eight meetings between the two clubs after the Heat franchise was formed in 1988. Miami won 16 straight games against Dallas from Jan. 25, 1992 through Dec. 20, 19999. Since then, the Mavericks have won 20 of the last 25 regular-season matchups from Feb. 1, 2001 through Dec. 20, 2012.

The Heat won their first NBA championship after defeating the Mavericks in six games in the 2006 NBA Finals. Dallas defeated Miami in six games in the 2011 NBA Finals. After losing Game 3 and going down 2-1, the Mavericks rattled off three straight victories en route to their first NBA championship. Of the previous 11 occasions a Finals series had been tied at 1-1, since the NBA Finals went to the 2-3-2 format beginning in 1985, the winner of Game 3 had gone on to win the championship all 11 times. The Mavericks rewrote history in 2011, and came back to win the series in six.

It’s a Small World:

Heat forward Chris Bosh hails from Dallas and played at Lincoln High School. Shawn Marion played in 58 games for the Heat from 2008-09. Mavericks forward Elton Brand and Heat forward Shane Battier were college teammates at Duke from 1997-99. Dahntay Jones transferred to Duke in 2000-01. Battier was named the NCAA Division I Tournament’s Most Outstanding Player that year, and the Blue Devils won the NCAA national championship (Jones was required to sit out in 2000-01 because he was a transfer student). Jones and Battier played three seasons together on the Memphis Grizzlies from 2003-06. Mavericks swingman Vince Carter played a season-and-a-half with Heat forward Rashard Lewis in Orlando from 2009-10.

Three Keys:

1. Bring the defensive game to Miami. The Heat are rolling in a big way on their home floor. Miami has scored at least 100 points in 14 of their 16 home games this season, averaging 106.4 points over that span. They’re scoring well because they lead the league-best 49.3 percent from the field this season. It’s going to be a radical adjustment for the Mavericks as they handled the Wizards on Jan. 1. Washington shoots a league-worst 40.6 percent from the field.

2. Share the wealth, possibly divide and conquer. Vince Carter (23), O.J. Mayo (15), Darren Collison (15), Chris Kaman (12), Shawn Marion (11) and Dirk Nowitzki (11) all scored in double figures in the win at Washington on Jan. 1. The Mavericks improved to 5-3 on the year when they have at least six players in double digits. Miami can be an incredibly tough squad to score against, so it’s in the best interest of Dallas to provide a balanced scoring attack. Dirk came off his best game of the season with those 11 points. He went 5-for-7 from the field, 1-for-2 from deep,  in 17 minutes off the bench at Washington. It would be good to see him continue to build some momentum against the Heat.

3. Protect the basketball. This hasn’t been mentioned as regularly as it was a couple of games ago but it’s still a major necessity against the Heat. With their transition offense being absolutely lethal, the Mavericks have to make sure the ball is their friend.

Bryan Gutierrez writes about sportsmen. He is a contributing writer for Mavs.com. Bryan also attended Ball So Hard University. You can follow him on Twitter @BallinWithBryan.