Heat win in Big D when it matters most

DALLAS -- The Miami Heat sure know how to make wins in Dallas count, no matter how rare they are.

The Dallas Mavericks have dominated the series with the Heat for a decade, except when it matters most. The Mavericks have won 20 of the last 22 regular-season meetings, including the current 14-game winning streak. Miami hasn't won a regular-season game here since March 2, 2003.

But the Heat own only two victories (against 11 losses) at American Airlines Center since the start of the 2003-04 season. Both wins have come during the Finals. Both are significant.

The first clinched the 2006 title for the Heat in Game 6 with a 95-92 win, capping a run of four consecutive wins -- three in Miami -- after the Mavericks won the first two games of the series. Sunday night's 86-88 triumph meant a 2-1 series lead and wrestled the homecourt advantage back to Miami after its Game 2 meltdown.

"It's just one," Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. "We're not going to make it more than what it is. We have two wins under our belt. We have to try to be greedy and get another one. But there isn't going to be anything easy that comes in this series for either team.

"After Game 2, that's so far out of our mind at this point. It's all about the win or the loss. It doesn't matter. Even this: It's not a good win; it's not a bad win. It's a win. We have to move on and we have to try to get the next one."

Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle made the point before Game 3 that the venue doesn't guarantee anything. The Mavs better hope so, because with the next two games at home, they'll now have to win in Miami to claim the franchise's first title.

"We've still go two games at home," J.J. Barea said. "We have to start in the next game and get it tied up, and then win the next one. We still can go back to Miami with the lead. This is only one [loss]. We've just got to forgot about this one."

It doesn't seem to matter what the Mavericks do to Dwyane Wade or Shaquille O'Neal or LeBron James during those 82 games before the real season begins. Though the Heat can't seem to win in Dallas the vast majority of the time, they sure have picked their spots.