It was, by definition, a rematch of the NBA finals from last June.
It sure didn’t feel like it. Because these are the same franchises and the same uniforms, but they are not the same teams.
The Miami Heat got a comfortable win, 106-85, playing with more energy than we have seen in recent weeks. But nothing felt much at all like we saw last June:
• LeBron James played his best game in little while (unlike last finals), finishing with 19 points, nine rebounds and five assists. Not monster numbers, but he was the best Heat player on the floor and kept the team in synch.
• Dallas got poor play from its bench — Jason Terry shredded the Heat last series but was 1-for-10 in this game.
• Last June the Heat bench was non-existent but it was the key to this win, them helping the Heat pull away in the second quarter. Udonis Haslem had 16 points in the game.
• Last year it was all about Miami’s big three, in this game there were six Heat players in double figures, led by LeBron and Chris Bosh with 19.
This wasn’t a rematch, but it showed some of where these teams are now.
The Heat had been in cruise control seemingly since the All-Star break, playing without the energy that defined them early in the season. Maybe motivated by memories of last season, maybe by trying to break their slump, maybe it was random — but they brought good energy this game. And when they do Miami is a difficult team to beat.
One bright spot for Dallas — we have had a Lamar Odom sighting. He helped spark a little push by the Mavs in the third quarter and finished with 12 points on six shots. Consistency has never been Odom’s middle name, so we will venture a prediction on what to expect next game. Dirk Nowitzki led the Mavs with 25 points. He still looked good against the Heat, but that was about it.
Bottom line — time to forget about the last finals and start focusing on the next one.