Keeping Score

NBA Finals: Three Things We Learned From Game 1

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Miami Heat's Dwyane Wade (R) goes up to shoot past Dallas Mavericks' DeShawn Stevenson (L) during the second half in Game 1 of the NBA Finals basketball series in Miami, May 31, 2011.

One game into the 2011 NBA Finals, and we can surely wonder: will Miami’s roll ever end this post-season?

The Heat beat Dallas Tuesday night, 92-84, to win its ninth straight home playoff game, and fifth straight playoff game overall. Game 1 wasn’t the most artistic effort — for example, the first quarter score, 17-16 in favor of Dallas, was unsightly. The defense of both teams deserve credit. But when LeBron James hits four of his five three-point attempts, including a 25-foot fall-away at the third quarter buzzer, which put Miami up, 65-61, the Heat will be hard to cool down.

(VIDEO: LeBron James: Making the Shot)

Here are three things we learned from Game 1, and are worth watching going forward.

1. Whatever Dwyane Wade is drinking at halftime — I want that.

Going into Game 1, Heat fans were worried about Wade’s health. In the first half, he did little to quell their fears. Wade looked hesitant and out of rhythm, and scored just seven points while committing three turnovers and missing two free throws. But coming out of the locker room for the second half, Wade was a new man, returning to the form that won him the 2006 Finals MVP (he scored 34.7 points a game in that series). He erupted for 15 second-half points, and in certain instances, James smartly just gave the ball to Wade, and got out of his way. All that concern earlier in the season about how Wade and James would play together? That’s all gone now.

2. Joel Anthony is an offensive stiff, but he might give Dirk fits

Heat starting center Joel Anthony didn’t score a point in Game 1. On offense, he has bricks for hands. But he and reserve forward Udonis Haslem combined to hold Dirk Nowitzki to just 7 of 18 shooting from the field (Nowitzki finished with 27 points, hitting all 12 of his foul shots). Anthony, who is 6’9″, stayed tight on Nowitzki all night, and has the wingspan to bother his jump shots. Nowitzki will be looking to avenge his less-than-stellar shooting night in Game 2, but a torn tendon in his non-shooting hand won’t help.

3. Miami Can Score – Real Fast

No one makes you pay for mistakes quite like Miami. Off a missed shot or a turnover, Wade can grab the ball, dribble down the court in two seconds, and draw so much attention that a guy like Chris Bosh winds up wide-open for an easy dunk. Maybe Dallas should just foresake offensive rebounds and charge back after taking a shot. Because when Miami starts running, the older legs of guys like Jason Kidd, Shawn Marion and Nowitzki can’t hang with the Heat.

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