In what has been perhaps the most testing week of Miami’s season, the Heat responded in a fashion only they can, running rampant over the defending Champions to record a 19 point win, their 14th straight at the AAA.
Dallas came out fast early as the Heat continued to struggle with their fluency on both ends of the court, surrendering 29 first quarter points. From that point on the Heat outscored the Mavericks 82-56 thanks to 19 and 9 from James, 19 and 9 from Bosh and 16 from Wade.
The most pleasing aspect for the Heat was their bench production, finding 36 points off their highly scrutinised second unit. Norris Cole had his first double digit scoring game in recent memory, and Mario Chalmers contributed heavily on both ends of the court, adding 12 points with 4 steals.
The key for Miami has become glaringly clear. If they win, or at least get close to winning, the rebounding battle, they will win the game. Tonight they held a +13 advantage on the boards, meaning more stops, more possessions and a greater ability to get out on the break. James was devastating in this facet of the game all night.
Ronny Turiaf continues to contribute to the Heat, paying an increased 19 minutes and making several significant defensive plays. The single biggest question mark over the Heat is the center position, their ability to guard the opposition center and finding a player who will rebound the ball for them on a consistent basis. Joel Anthony simply can’t do this. Ronny Turiaf is far from being an All Star, but he is a hard working defender, someone Kobe Bryant saw as invaluable when he played for the Lakers a few seasons ago.
At the very least, the win silences the haters and the doubters for the time being. But let’s not get carried away with this win, Dallas are a shadow of the team they were last season and Miami are running on auto pilot until the playoffs.