First Impressions: Mavs 98, Miami 96

Three weeks ago, the ballyhooed Heat lost a game to the Mavs. They held a players-only meeting and won 12 straight. On Monday in Miami, the Mavs won again, 98-96. Time for another meeting, Superfriends? … Here's our First Impressions on an impressive Dallas victory:

MAGIC NUMBERS ‘14' AND ‘21': So Miami has just two losses in the last 14 games and just nine losses all year.

Two of them are to the Mavs, who swept the series.

As usual.

The Mavs have now won 14 in a row in the regular season against the Heat. It doesn't erase the 2006 NBA Finals loss, and nothing but a ring will ever come close.

But it's the only consolation prize they give. So you take it.

Both teams came into the game with 21 wins.

One team put that in its dust.

Smile

DEAD STREAKS: This marks the sixth streak of five wins in a row or more that Dallas has dismantled, and the second of precisely 12 games.

In order, there was Boston (5), New Orleans (8), Oklahoma City (5), San Antonio (12), Utah (7) and now Miami (12).

The Mavericks. Where streaks come to die.

ROLE DEFINITION: As been a trend recently, the game on the offensive end of the court fell into easily definable blocks. The first half was Dirk Nowitzki's playground, as he went 7-of-12 over the first two quarters for 17 points.

The third period belonged to Caron Butler, who was again active and aggressive towards the paint … making a couple of his close misses easily forgivable. For the quarter, he was 3-of-4 from the floor for nine points.

And, finally, the fourth quarter belonged to Jason Terry, who dismissed memories of a dismal start to the game. Not only was he 0-of-5 in the first three quarters for zero points, but his poor defensively play helped Dwayne Wade find a rhythm once DeShawn Stevenson went to the bench.

Terry owned the fourth. He found his shot, putting in 6-of-10 attempts and carried the offense with all 19 of his points coming in the final frame.

We were over in the chat on Fox Sports Southwest (you should have stopped by!) when I made an innocent enough comment: "If Terry doesn't start the fourth quarter hot, I'd like to see Stevenson get a few minutes."

Terry made certain the notion didn't ever have to cross Rick Carlisle's mind.

TWO-HEADED CENTER!: Tyson Chandler continues to be a difference-maker; his clogging of the lane on Wade's late drive attempt (and forced kickout to Chris Bosh for a failed 3) was typically huge. But Brendan Haywood made a fair impact in his 17 minutes, too.

To be blunt, the center position may be the biggest difference between these two teams. Both Chandler and Haywood are far superior to anyone Miami can put on the floor at the 5.

Even if the stats don't show it, you can feel it.

On this night, both Mavs were active and either altered shots, denied shot attempts or took hard fouls when necessary. We mentioned the offense above, but the presence of these two also played its role … even if it came with slightly more subtlety.

Chandler finished with eight points and 10 rebounds over 31 minutes.

Haywood chipped in with four points – both on resounding dunks -- four rebounds and a steal. … oh, and he knocked a Bad Guy or two on their butts, too.

Again, this isn't as much about statistical impact, though Chandler was one of only three Mavs to finish on the positive side of this game's plus/minus stats with a +6 … it was about their help defense and their interior presence changing the approach to the game for the opposition.

PLUS-MINUS CRAZINESS : Not to get too statsy on you, because we can't quite makes sense of it all: The other two Mavs with a positive plus/minus were Stevenson and Dirk, both +16.

THE RUNS: Often, a single run or two can dominate a game. Monday night, a million runs dominated the game.

OK, not that many. But lots.

The Mavs leapt from the gate with a 14-2 spurt.

Miami responded with a 12-0 run to close the opening quarter, then pushed that 12 to 17-0 to begin the second and forge a four-point lead (27-to-23).

In the middle of the second, Dallas responded with a 12-2 push to reclaim the lead.

On to the third, where Dallas put together their own 10-0 run, only to see Miami respond with a 13-0 eruption.

Despite all of these runs, when the game slowed, the defense took over and Dallas put the game away … not in a burst, but by slow suffocation. … Miami eventually running out of chances and finishing with a FG percentage of just 40.

MILLER TIME: Mike Miller made his first appearance as a member of the Heat, and showed some rust by going 0-of-4 from the floor.

LeBRON AS THE STORY: LeBron James almost had a triple-double (19 points, 10 rebounds, seven assists). But if you watched the game, you know how hollow that linescore really is. While Chandler and Haywood lack the stats to accurately express their impact, James put up numbers that misrepresented his.

The 6-of-17 he went on his field-goal attempts may tell a clearer tale.

DIRK'S ‘QUIET' 26: Dirk had a game-high 26 points, and only Jason Terry (19) and Caron Butler (13) joined him as double-digit scorers.

He's now 10 points shy of Larry Bird's career points total of 21,791. On Tuesday in Orlando, The UberMan will almost certainly overtake Bird as the No. 25 all-time leading scorer in NBA history.

JJB FOR 3!: Early in the second quarter, JJ Barea hit a 3-point shot. Usually this isn't cause for celebration, yet it was his first make after 18 misses in a row.

So … yay!

For the night, Barea played reasonably well and finished with six points and five rebounds … though he did total only two assists against two turnovers.

‘TRIX' KNACK: Shawn Marion wasn't hitting his shots, going 2-of-7 for the night, but as he has made a habit of, he was again strong on the defensive end … and helped turnaround a rebounding battle the Mavs were losing badly.

He finished with seven points, three assists, a block and a lot of rebounds. Thirteen of them, including the offensive retrieval of a late-game Dallas airball that he fired back outside to Jet, who nailed a huge trey.

BOARD WORK: Speaking of that battle of the boards: On a single trip down the court near the conclusion of the second quarter, Miami grabbed six (or was it seven?) offensive rebounds before Mario Chalmers finally sank a 3.

It's hard to take many spans like that.

After three quarters, Miami had 39 rebounds, including 15 on the offensive end, compared to 32 total and 5 offensive boards for Dallas.

In the fourth quarter, everything changed.

Dallas outrebounded Miami 16-to-5 total, and 5-to-1 at the offensive end.

In the period, Marion single-handedly grabbed more boards than the Heat team.

The Matrix snagged eight of his 13 in the final quarter, as well as four of the offensive variety.

When every possession mattered most, Dallas controlled the glass.

HOW'S OUR STREAK TASTE?: Dallas has now swept the season series with the vaunted Heat. The Mavs have sent them into an extended players-only meeting after one game and they've crushed their 12-game winning streak after another.

It's a confidence boost for a Dallas team that is now 9-1 on the road … and knows that it can beat a "loaded'' team like the Heat and do so in Miami.

Maybe now the Dallas Mavericks will be on Dwayne Wade's radar when he's listing the NBA's best practitioners of smart late-game execution.

He made such a list on Saturday after Miami's goofy late victory over the Wizards, listing the leaders in that field as the Celtics, Lakers and Spurs.

Wade is missing one. Maybe Miami should have a players-only meeting to discuss this?


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