The Miami Heat could thank Dwyane Wade for his 29 points and 11 rebounds. Or they could give credit to Chris Bosh (18 points) for sinking a crucial shot in the waning moments. But perhaps the majority of the credit for the Heat’s 88-86 Game Three victory over the Dallas Mavericks should go to their defense. Miami held Dallas to a 2011 home playoff low in points en route to a 2-1 NBA Finals lead in front of raucous American Airlines Center on June 5.

After Bosh’s corner jump shot gave Miami a two-point lead with less than a minute left, it came down to a last defensive stand against a hot Dirk Nowitzki. The Dallas forward had already dropped the Heat once in this series but Miami was determined not to let his heroics happen again, at least not in Game Three. Nowitzki (34 points, 11 rebounds, three blocks) received the ball at the top of the key with less than five seconds remaining but excellent defense by Heat forward Udonis Haslem forced the seven-foot forward into a difficult jump shot. Nowitzki’s fade away bounced high off the back of the rim and the Heat celebrated a crucial win after the Mavericks erased a 15-point deficit in the previous game to even the series.

If history stays true, Miami could be in line to celebrate a lot more than just another victory in the series. Since the NBA went to a 2-3-2 Finals format in 1985, the winner of Game Three with the series tied 1-1 is 11-0 all time. Game Four is Tuesday, June 7 in Dallas at 9:00 p.m. Eastern Time.

LeBron James and Mario Chalmers combined for 29 points and five three pointers for Miami while Jason Terry added 15 off the bench for Dallas. Jason Kidd recorded a game-high 10 assists.


Stephen D. Riley

Special to the AFRO