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Dallas Mavericks vs. Miami Heat: A tale of two cities, and of expectations

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2011 NBA Finals: 10 questions about the Heat and Mavericks

They have matured as a group to the point where they fight through double-digit deficits to win where previously they might not have. The Mavs, with a 57-25 regular season record, are nearly evenly matched with the Heat, though Dallas won the two regular season meetings between the two teams.

They’ve accomplished much, even without the services of one of their very strongest players, guard-forward Caron Butler, who is not expected to see any action in the Finals. Jason Terry, in an interview earlier this week, said the team is dedicating their pursuit of the NBA title to Butler.

The Heat largely play a perimeter game. They love head fakes, and drawing fouls near or beyond the arc. They also are very fast off the transition, where LeBron James and Dwyane Wade excel in an open path to the bucket with virtually unparalleled athleticism. They have not been as strong inside the paint, where the Mavericks tend to excel.

Dirk Nowitzki, the Mavericks strong forward/center, can score from anywhere, and he is particularly strong at drawing fouls after posting up his defenders. When the two teams met in Dallas last November, the Mavericks won 106-95 - largely through the 48 points they scored in the paint. They will need to keep that pace up this series.

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