Mavericks-Heat Preview

The star-laden Miami Heat appeared to be a team in turmoil

following a loss to the Dallas Mavericks last month that dropped

them to 9-8.

As they prepare to face the Mavericks for the first time since

that game, those early season struggles are all but a distant

memory for the Heat.

Miami will try to extend one of its longest win streaks in

franchise history by snapping a 13-game skid to the Mavericks on

Monday night.

Miami had dropped three of four when it arrived in Dallas on

Nov. 27 and didn’t threaten the Mavericks for most of the second

half in a 106-95 defeat.

The game featured the infamous bump between LeBron James and

Heat coach Erik Spoelstra during a third-quarter timeout. The two

insisted there was nothing to speculation that the act was a sign

of disrespect.

The Heat also had a players-only meeting to clear the air

following the loss. Since then, the Heat have reeled off 12

consecutive victories, two shy of matching the longest in franchise

history set Dec. 6, 2004-Jan. 1, 2005.

“I think everything is a lot smoother on both ends of the

floor,” Chris Bosh said. “We knew it was going to take time for us

to come together. It’s a lot quicker than I imagined, but we’re

continuing to work. We have a long way to go, so we want to

continue to build on it.”

Miami (21-8) kept that run going by rallying from a four-point

deficit in the final 16 seconds for a 95-94 win at Washington on

Saturday night. Dwyane Wade, Bosh and James Jones each hit a pair

of free throws during the closing 6-1 run, and James scored 32

points for the second straight game.

“You see the Boston Celtics, Lakers and Spurs pull out games

when they don’t play well,” Wade said. “We were able to do


The previous evening, the Mavericks (21-5) cruised to a 106-91

victory over Phoenix, their 14th in 15 games. Dallas used a

balanced offense – four players in double figures – while

containing one of the NBA’s highest scoring teams.

The Mavericks are allowing 93.2 points per game this season and

an average of 91.5 in their win streak over the Heat, tied for the

second-longest current run for one team against one opponent. San

Antonio has won 14 in a row over Minnesota.

“Our goal every night is to play the best defense we can,” coach

Rick Carlisle said.

Dallas has also won 19 of 21 overall against Miami and 14 of 15

since the Heat took Wade with the No. 5 overall pick in the 2003

draft. The Heat’s All-Star guard, though, won his lone NBA

championship at the expense of the Mavericks in 2006.

Dallas has claimed six straight games in Miami and nine of


“It’s gonna be a very challenging game for us,” Carlisle told

the team’s website. “I’m sure they’ll be thinking about revenge and

all that stuff. … It’s a challenge we’re looking forward to.”

Dallas star Dirk Nowitzki is 37 points shy of passing Larry Bird

for 25th on the NBA’s career scoring list. He’s averaged 26.4

points in his last 13 games against the Heat and 26.6 in his last

11 games in Miami.

The Heat’s three stars are each averaging more than 20.0 points

in their career against Dallas with James’ 27.5 mark leading the

way. However, they might need some more help in this game.

Wade, James and Bosh each had at least 22 points in the previous

meeting with Dallas, but no other Miami player had more than nine.

Dallas, meanwhile, had six players in double figures with former

Heat forward Caron Butler scoring 23 and Nowitzki 22.