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MIAMI (AP) — Dwyane Wade’s night began with a hug for his mom. It ended with an embrace from LeBron James.
Nearby, Chris Bosh held up three fingers.
No explanation necessary. The Miami Heat are three wins from the reason why the Big Three came together in the first place.
James scored 24 points for his first win in five NBA finals games, Wade scored 15 of his 22 points in the second half and the Heat beat the Dallas Mavericks 92-84 in Game 1 of the title series on Tuesday night — holding the Western Conference champions to their lowest point total of the playoffs after a dominant defensive showing down the stretch.
“Feels good because it’s the first game and we played well as a team,” James said. “We’ve got a lot of work to do. ... That’s one in the books. We’re excited about this game. Tomorrow we prepare for Game 2, and I see ways we can get better.”
Dirk Nowitzki scored 27 points — tearing a tendon in the middle finger on his left, non-shooting, hand during the game and revealing afterward that he’ll likely wear a splint throughout the remainder of the series — and grabbed eight rebounds for Dallas, which got 16 points and 10 rebounds from Shawn Marion and 12 points from Jason Terry, most of those coming in an early flurry. It was Dallas’ fifth straight loss to Miami in finals games, dating to the Heat rally for the 2006 crown.
Dallas held the Heat to 39 percent shooting, Miami’s second-worst showing of the playoffs.
Problem was, the Mavericks shot 37 percent — by far, their worst night of the postseason offensively.
“You hold a team to 38 percent shooting and 92 points, for us, that’s usually a victory,” Marion said.
Sure enough, Dallas had been 7-2 when holding teams to those kind of numbers this season. Game 2 is Thursday in Miami.