Did that just happen? Are you kidding me? After everything I’ve been saying and writing about, “The Perfect Storm,” the Miami Heat squandered a 15-point lead over the final 6:20 and dropped a 95-93 decision to the Dallas Mavericks in Game 2 of the NBA Finals in Miami, squaring the series at one win apiece and completely fumbling a golden opportunity to grab this series by the throat. Speaking of the throat area, there’s no doubt that a potential choke is now on the minds of everyone (like me) that picked the Heat to dominate this series. Here’s why: it’s now possible that the NBA Finals may not return to South Beach. Thanks to the unique-to-the-Finals 2-3-2 format, the Mavs now have a chance to close out the series in their own building. Yikes.

Photos From The Game

 OK, despite some disturbing developments in Game 2, I’m sticking by my pick and still believe that if one of these teams is going to seeep the next 3 games, it’s far more likley to be the Heat than the Mavericks. All the advantages I believe Miami took into this series still exist and I still have faith that the better team will prevail. That said, Dirk Nowitzki definitely got my attention in Game 2. So much for that injury to his left hand. In the process of scoring his team’s final 9 points, Nowitzki converted 2 of his last 3 shots by finishing with his supposedly-injured left hand. Uh huh. He was spectacular down the stretch. A one-man Big Three. He did it all and he’s the reason we now have a series on our hands.

     The team that appeared to have all it’s late-game questions put to bed, came apart down the stretch. Talk about a reveral of fortune. Both teams did a “180” with the Heat making bad decisions at crunch time and the Mavs executing at a high level and getting key stops. How do you not foul Nowitzki before he beats Bosh off the dribble? Hey LeBron, how do you start celebrating prematurely after that Dwayne Wade 3-pointer? What’s up with settling for a couple of bad 3’s when the game was on the line? 

     All the key battles won by the Heat in Game 1 went to the Mavs on Thursday, with Dallas winning the battle of the boards as well as getter more bench scoring and shooting the higher percentage from beyond the arc.

I don’t think you can overstate the significance of Dallas closing the game on a 22-5 run. The Mavs sent a strong message that they, too, are capable of closing out a close game with a strong burst at both ends of the floor. That message is likely to result in a 6 or 7-game series. That would fly in the face of my 5-game prediction, but I still believe that a legitimate Big Three will ultimately defeat a legitimate Big One…..every time.

Rich Lord’s Notes After Game 1