Image Credit: @dallasmavs twitter
On Friday, The Dallas Mavericks played the Miami Heat as the Mavericks continue their mini two game home stand at the American Airlines Center. The Mavericks are coming off a blowout loss in which they struggled with scoring points. The Mavericks look to bounce back and get their second win overall and their first of 2021. As we enter the new year, the Mavericks hope 2021 is filled with success and being healthy as they await for Kristaps Porzingis return to the court. The Mavericks are 2-4 all-time on New Year’s Day games. This will be the first game in which the Mavericks hosted a New Year’s Day game.
On Wednesday, the Mavericks played the Charlotte Hornets in which they saw the Hornets bench score a combined 60 points in the game. Luka Doncic was limited to 12 points in the game as he struggled to find his rhythm on offense. LaMelo Ball, the third overall pick in the draft had himself a career day with 22 points on 7 of 10 from the field and was lights out from behind the arc, shooting 4 of 5 from deep. The Hornets were up 68-57 at halftime on the Mavericks and they never looked back as they closed out the game by outscoring the Mavericks 50-42 in the final two quarters to seal the victory. The Mavericks look to bounce back from their disastrous shooting performance in a matchup with the Miami Heat.
The Miami Heat are coming into this game with a record of 2-2 with wins against the Milwaukee Bucks and New Orleans Pelicans to start the season. The Heat are looking to keep their dominance in the Eastern Conference as they were able to punch their ticket to the NBA Finals last season in the playoff bubble. This Heat team is certainly capable of making another deep run in the playoffs. The Heat had an offseason that saw Jae Crowder leave for the Phoenix Suns and Solomon Hill leave for the Atlanta Hawks in free agency but were able to acquire Avery Bradley from the Boston Celtics in free agency. With Jimmy Butler, Bam Adebayo, and Tyler Herro at the helm, they are in a good position to make another run in the playoffs.
Entering this game versus the Heat, the Mavericks lost their two meetings against the Heat last season. This will be the only meeting in the first half of the season against these Heat as part of the NBA trying to limit travel due to the pandemic. These two teams are very familiar with each other as they met in the 2011 NBA Finals with the Mavericks winning the series 4-2 to clinch their first title in franchise history. Since winning the title, the Mavericks have struggled against the Heat as they have lost 16 of the last 18 matchups. Overall, the Heat lead the all-time series with a record of 36-31. This will be the third meeting between Luka Doncic and Goran Dragic who are both from Slovenia. Since joining the Mavericks, Luka Doncic is 0-4 in his career against the Heat.
The Mavericks started this game off to a sluggish start by making two shots in the first six minutes of the game. Both teams were cold to begin this game as the score remained 5-5 midway through the first quarter. The recent snow in DFW must have rubbed off on the players as they were ice-cold in the early going.
Coming off a timeout, both teams settled in the game and found their grooves with Tyler Herro making a driving floating shot while Josh Richardson answered that with a 10-footer of his own to give the Mavericks as 10-9 lead. In the final stretch of the first quarter, the Mavericks ended the quarter with a 12-7 run to take a 20-16 lead. Tyler Herro kept the Heat afloat while the rest of his Heat teammates were struggling by scoring 8 of the Heat’s 16 points in the quarter. Luka Doncic found a way to overcome his three-point struggles by driving to the paint and getting to the free-throw line, ultimately finishing with six points.
The Heat continued to struggle without Herro on the floor as they had difficulty finding ways to score to begin the second quarter. James Johnson started the second quarter for the Mavericks by taking advantage of his former team by draining 2 baskets from behind the arc for six points. With 8:16 left in the quarter, the Mavericks found themselves in foul trouble by allowing Heat to get in the bonus for free-throws. With a James Johnson steal off a Jimmy Butler pass, it allowed Dorian Finney-Smith to hit a 26-foot three point jumper in transition to take a 31-23 lead midway through the second quarter. Good defense leads to great offense as the Mavericks could afford some of that throughout this season. The Mavericks bench erupted in cheers when Luka Doncic hit a step back three point shot (his third of the season) with 2:00 left in the half. In the final seconds to end the half, Luka Doncic received a technical foul in frustration trying to draw a foul in a questionable no call. The Mavericks end the half taking a 46-31 lead. Duncan Robinson of the Heat had a somewhat rare off shooting game by only scoring 1 point in the half. The Heat weren’t very hot to start the half as they shot 9-36 (25%) as a team from the field and going 0-14 (0%) from behind the arc as most of their points came from the free-throw line. The Mavericks looked good in the first half by spreading the ball around, attacking the paint and communicating, something they lacked in the previous game. The Mavericks finished with shooting 16-38 (42.1%) from the field and 6-18 (33%) from three point land in the first half with Luka Doncic leading the team with 13 points on 5-12 shooting from the field. The Mavericks starters out scored the Heat’s starters by a 32-19 margin.
Coming out of the half, the Heat finally ended their shooting drought with a Bam Adebayo alley oop with 10:43 left in the third quarter. The Mavericks looked like a different team to begin this quarter by turning good defense into points. The Mavericks went on a 10-3 scoring run to give the Mavericks as 56-34 lead before coach Erik Spoelstra called timeout for the Heat in hopes of trying to cool off these Mavericks. Coming off the timeout, the Heat finally made a three point shot with Duncan Robinson taking the credit. It wouldn’t be until the third quarter of the game to see the Heat finally drain one from downtown. Luka Doncic started to heat up in the quarter with five quick points that featured hitting another step back three pointer. The Mavericks again caught themselves in foul trouble with Dwight Powell and Dorian Finney-Smith having four fouls each, putting the Heat in the bonus. This would not come to haunt the Mavericks as the Heat continued to struggle to create their own shots. With 1:37 left in the third quarter, Luka Doncic grabbed his 10th rebound to record the Mavericks their first double-double of the season, it would be Doncic’s 64th career double-double. The Mavericks were able to draw a 20 point lead with the score of 73-53 to end the third quarter. Luka Doncic would lead the team by scoring 23 points and 12 rebounds while Bam Adebayo lead the Heat scoring 13 points and 9 rebounds through three quarters.
The Heat continued to struggle as they did the whole game entering this fourth quarter by simply not being able to buy a bucket. The Heat began the fourth only making one shot in four attempts. The temperature was 39°F in Dallas, Texas and the Heat were certainly playing like it, struggling throughout the course of the game. With 6:32 left in the game, the Heat tried one last ditched effort to make it a game by going on a 7-0 run that forced Rick Carlisle to call a timeout. Dorian Finney-Smith with a heads up play by following up a miss with a 17-foot jumper late in the shot clock coming off the timeout. The Heat were threatening to cut down the lead to 10 points with 3:38 left to play in this game, however Josh Richardson was able to take the lead to 12 points that led to Erik Spoelstra calling a timeout to give them a chance. Avery Bradley hit a big three point shot for the Heat to cut the lead down to 9 points but they found themselves on the wrong end of the clock as there was little amount of time to do something.
This team looked completely different than previous game by attacking the paint and being much more aggressive and creating their own shots. The Mavericks debuted their new uniforms and they looked good playing in them too. The Mavs were able to get their pick-and-roll offense going and able to box out and grab rebounds. Remember when people were panicking about Luka Doncic struggling? Yeah he was able to silence the noise by going off for 27 points. The Mavericks have to play like this on a consistent basis, not just when they want to, in order to have a shot in the tough Western Conference this season. They have to do a better job at closing out games as they almost gave the Heat a chance at making this game when it didn’t need too. The Mavericks defense looked good by contesting shots and preventing second chance points which would result tremendously on the offensive end.
In the end, it was the Mavericks were victorious in this one by beating the Heat 93-83. Luka Doncic bounced back from his disastrous game by scoring 27 points and 15 rebounds. The Mavericks shot 32-78 (41%) from the field and 12-37 (32.4%) from behind the arc. This was the Mavericks first home win of the season as they improved to 2-3 on the season. 2021 started on a good note for these Mavericks by starting the new year with a win. If 2021 looks like this, then the Mavericks will have a good year.
The Mavericks will travel up north as they will play the Chicago Bulls on January 3rd as they begin their 3 game road trip and look to start a winning streak.