Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Bulls VS Heat:Heat take Game 1 then which side you stand?


MIAMI — The Big 3 is under contract through the 2014 post-season. But if the NBA emerges from this summer's collective-bargaining negotiations with a hard salary cap, Commissioner David Stern said, it's possible the Heat wouldn't be able to keep all three superstars.

Chris Bosh and LeBron James signed $110.1 million contracts last summer while Wade signed for $107 million. The Heat likely wouldn't be able to fit all three under a hard cap.

"That's part of the negotiation," Stern said before Game 1. "This is very complex. If there's a will, we'll be able to work all those issues out."

The NBA, like the NFL, is headed to a lockout July 1 if players and owners cannot agree to a new CBA before the current one expires on June 30.

Stern said owners and players will conduct a "full-blown bargaining session" today in Miami.

"We told the players and the owners to bring their negotiating talents to South Beach," he joked.

Carlisle's ploy for Dallas?

One of the story lines of this series is whether Dallas coach Rick Carlisle can get the Heat scrambling through his use of unconventional defenses.

First, though, Carlisle got the media scrambling.

Before Game 1, Carlisle was asked about Heat forward Udonis Haslem.

"We know we're going to see a lot of him in the series. There's a very good chance he could even start in Game 1," Carlisle said.

Haslem said, "That would be something new if it happens."

It didn't. Erik Spoelstra stuck with Joel Anthony at center, with Haslem - who only recently recovered from a foot injury - remaining a reserve.

Spoelstra did say that there were no limitations on Haslem's court time.

Cuban in the house

Mavs owner Mark Cuban, who took a seat behind the Dallas bench, wore his trademark jeans and Mavs T-shirt.

This shirt appeared to have been through a season, or 10, prompting the question of whether it was Cuban's lucky shirt.

"They're all lucky," he said.

A 92-84 loss isn't going to define the Mavericks or this series on the whole. Which is not to say the Mavs are going to win the NBA Finals, but they're surely going to show more than they did in Game 1 on Tuesday.

They never elevated, and the Heat were happy to let them feel hopeful and content for more than three quarters. But a ho-hum, neither-here-nor-there showing isn't true to Dallas' character. "We have to force the game," said Mavs forward Shawn Marion, and he sounded as if he was making a promise for Game 2 Thursday. "Go out there and play ball. We were calling so many sets, it just kind of took the rhythm out of everything we normally do. When we're out there freelancing and playing the game and making it up as we go, we're one of the best to do it."

How many times can we talk about how far the Heat have come, how they've cultivated their senses of teamwork and rhythm in order to raise an important victory like this one from the basement of a 28.6 percent first quarter all the way up to the penthouse of LeBron James (24 points, nine rebounds, five assists) and Dwyane Wade (22 points, 10 rebounds, six assists and two blocks) pulling away in the fourth? Forgive me if you've heard this one before, but they never could have done anything like this in November, January, March or even early last month.

"It just takes time for players to feel comfortable with each other and a new offensive system and playing with new guys and being in this situation over and over and over," said Miami coach Erik Spoelstra. "We had quite a few close games in the regular season where we failed. The more times you're in it, the more confident you get."

This was a victory of patience and understanding. The Heat went to Chris Bosh (19 points and nine rebounds overall) in the first quarter and then to Mario Chalmers (12 points on eight shots off the bench) in the second. The Mavs may have been able to convince themselves that everything was going to plan, that they weren't letting James and Wade destroy them.

The anticipated matchup of James on Nowitzki went unconsummated -- James nfl cheap jerseys spent more time guarding Jason Terry in the fourth -- because the Heat didn't need to go there. Nowitzki, set back in the fourth quarter by a torn tendon in the middle finger of his left hand, had a relatively blasé 27 points (7-of-18 from the field), if such a thing is possible. In the meantime, LeBron was happy to spend the first three quarters doing his own impersonation of Nowitzki while hitting all four of his threes. He's making those shots the way a red-shirted Tiger Woods used to drill putts on Sunday. Toward the end of the third, LeBron brought the ball up to the edge of the line for one of those quick-hitting threes, and then moments later, appearing to have botched a quarter-ending possession, he moved to his right a full stride behind the arc for a fall away three over Marion that gave Miami a 65-61 lead.

LeBron and the Heat don't feel the need to force much of anything anymore. "They were doing a good job of corralling him on pick and rolls and also protecting the paint when we did attack," said Spoelstra. "He was reading the game, getting off the ball when he needed to. We had some good ball movement possessions there in the fourth."

The Mavs will be disappointed that the story of this game was how Wade and James played off one another to combine for 29 points (11 of 17 together) in the second half, as if they'd once and for all committed to memory the team manual handed out at training camp eight months ago. Wade had been a disappointing 3 for 10 with three turnovers in the opening half -- a continuation of his struggles overall in the previous round against Chicago. But when Dallas scored seven points to open the third quarter and take a 51-43 lead, the Heat went to Wade for a pair of layups that made everything feel simple and straightforward for him again.

The Mavs were within 75-70 in the final four minutes when Wade finished them off. He sauntered to the top of the key for a jumper over Jason Kidd (77-70), then hit a rolling Bosh with a bounce pass off the dribble that led to a pair of free throws (79-73). At the other end, Marion (16 points and 10 rebounds) was picking up a loose ball in the lane and turning around for a 12-footer only to see Wade hovering above him to block the shot. The ensuing possession was converted by Wade into a three-pointer that made it 82-73.

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