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Heat Defense Falters in Loss to Mavericks



Credit: Heat Twitter

The Miami Heat, boasted the NBA’s second-best defensive rating since February, fell last night to the Dallas Mavericks 114-108 , as they struggle to contain Luka Doncic and the Mavs offense. Despite entering the game with a formidable defensive record, the Heat allowed the Mavericks to score 114 points, shooting 46 percent from the field and 39 percent from beyond the arc, while keeping their turnovers down to 10.

Jimmy Butler, who averaged 23.8 points per game on a 53.7 percent shooting efficiency since the start of February, found himself constrained by the Mavericks’ defense. The strategy of consistent double teams against Butler limited him to 14 points, with a notably quiet performance through the first three quarters.

Initially, the Heat came out hot playing a near perfect first quarter, and leading by as much as 15 points in the first half, attributed to an exceptional 86.7 percent shooting from the field and converting nine of their first 11 three-point attempts. However, the Mavericks, undeterred by the early Heat dominance, managed to level the score late in the second quarter. Despite this, the Heat entered halftime maintaining a slim lead, propelled by their 52.4 percent field goal shooting and 47.6 percent accuracy from three-point range.

The momentum shifted in the third quarter when the Mavericks, led by Luka Doncic’s explosive 17 points, overtook and built an 11-point lead. The Heat’s resilience was tested, yet they mounted a significant 14-4 run to reclaim the lead early in the fourth quarter. The game saw several lead changes thereafter, but a decisive 11-3 run by the Mavericks ultimately sealed the game in their favor.

In the closing moments, a crucial foul by Heat’s Caleb Martin on Dante Exum allowed the Mavericks to extend their lead, effectively quelling the Heat’s comeback aspirations. Terry Rozier’s best performance as a member of the Heat, with 27 points, 11 assists, and six rebounds, came in a losing effort.

A critical aspect of the Heat’s downfall was their performance at the free-throw line, which proved costly amidst the tightly contested moments of the game. With the Heat now turning their focus to an imminent challenge against the Oklahoma City Thunder, they find themselves in a tight race in the Eastern Conference standings, tied with the 76ers and trailing the fourth seed Orlando Magic by 1.5 games.

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