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

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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.

Guard Jason Kidd, who has the second most assists in NBA history, will be instrumental in getting the ball inside to Nowitzki, where he can score from anywhere. On the other side of the ball, Mavericks’ center Tyson Chandler will need to grab rebounds while staying out of his usual, chronic foul trouble.

Kidd, forward Shawn Marion and guard Jason Terry have to force the turnovers with the same efficiency they managed most recently against Oklahoma City. However, Dallas will have a much more difficult time guarding the Heat because of the three weapons they have. In Dallas’s series against Oklahoma City, forward Kevin Durant, and to a lesser extent, guard Russell Wesbrook, could be double-teamed with effectiveness. But the scoring proficiency of Miami’s Wade, James and Chris Bosh makes this strategy much riskier.

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