Judging by Game 1, expect a steady diet of defense in South Beach, and Big D


At last, we can finally have that celebration — oh, not quite yet?

Amid repeated replays of LeBron James’ announcement he was “taking my talents” to you-know-where, and his prediction at the welcome in Miami that the Heat would win “not one, not two, not three, not four, not five, not six, not seven but eight titles,” the actual NBA Finals started on a subdued note Tuesday night as the Heat beat the Dallas Mavericks, 92-84, to take a 1-0 lead.

On the other hand, you have to start somewhere.

As James said afterward, “D-Wade congratulated me after the game for my first Finals victory.”


Dwyane Wade, of course, won a title in 2006.

James made the Finals in 2007 against San Antonio but his Cavaliers didn’t win any of those.

Even Commissioner David Stern threw in a zinger before the game, saying of upcoming labor talks:

“I hope the owners and players bring their negotiating talents to South Beach.”

If the game, which turned into the usual defensive struggle, didn’t live up to the bombast, what could?

As both teams have all postseason, the Mavericks and Heat brought their defensive talents to South Beach, and they’re expected to take them to Big D, too.

The Heat shot 39% and it was the hot team, with Dallas at 37%

“Defense, I think we were pretty solid at times,” said the Mavericks’ Shawn Marion. “It wasn’t good enough to win the game.”

So, after holding the Heat to 92 points and 39% from the floor, the Mavericks have to turn it up on D?

Miami Coach Erik Spoelstra called the Eastern finals “an absolute bloodbath,” making this, what?

A chess match?

Watching paint dry, even if there are superstars doing the painting?

“Shots are going to be hard to come by,” Dallas Coach Rick Carlisle said. “Both teams are really locked in and making a strong defensive effort.

“Our Portland series [in the first round], the first team to 80 was winning those games. This is nothing new to us. The Lakers are not a real fast-tempo team.”

Indeed, despite the uptick in scoring in recent seasons, the defense has caught up with the offense among elite teams, suggesting a need for rule changes.

How about changing the charge-block interpretation, giving ties to the offensive player?

Of course, fans of flops may prefer it as it is.

In the truly radical category, how about going to college rules on contact — like there can’t be any?

That way the game would be basketball, not a combination of hoop, rugby and rough tough football.

Not that any of this figures to come into play in this series, or decade.

Not that anyone can usually keep James away from the hoop, not even the Bulls, who didn’t let Miami score 100 in regulation in the Eastern finals.

Tuesday the Mavericks held James to 16 shots, and only three makes in the lane all night.

James settled for making nine of the 16, and four of his five three-pointers, finishing with 24 points.

With Wade in another of his slow first halves (three for 10, seven points), the Mavericks led, 44-43, at the half and pushed it to 51-43 early in the third quarter.

At that point, shots started getting really hard to come by for Dallas.

Of course, for James, if shots are hard to come by, he just makes harder ones, like the three he buried over Marion a stride beyond the arc at the end of the third quarter, putting Miami up, 65-61.

The Mavericks chased the Heat all fourth quarter but never caught up.

With Wade on another of his second-half comebacks (six for nine, 15 points), the Heat finally broke it open.

It’s just one game, so for those who like some scoring with their basketball, there’s always hope, or old videos.