Pre-game chatter: Dallas Mavericks must limit turnovers

MIAMI -- It has been more than three months since the Miami Heat humiliated the Dallas Mavericks on Christmas Day.

Rick Carlisle knows exactly why it happened.

And it had nothing to do with revenge. Or a championship hangover. Or Dwyane Wade and LeBron James playing with more focus.

The Heat blew out the Mavs because Dallas turned the ball over. Time and time and time again.

“We had eight turnovers in the first quarter,” Carlisle said, “and we had three more quick turnovers to start the second half and we were down by 30.”

So to beat Miami on Thursday night, the Mavs can’t exceed their season average of 14.1 turnovers per game, which is tied for eighth in the NBA. Just so you know, the Mavs are 16-8 when they have fewer turnovers than their opponents, and 7-10 when they have more turnovers.

Dallas is 3-8 on the road when it has more turnovers than its opponent. See, this isn’t complicated.

“We have to protect the ball,” Jason Kidd said. “We can’t have turnovers because those guys will turn into beasts. They’ll be running and dunking. They feed off turnovers.”

On Christmas Day, Miami had 25 points off turnovers and scored 31 fastbreak points. That remains the most fastbreak points the Mavs have yielded this season.

The Heat have lost consecutive games by a total of 31 points. Coach Erik Spoelstra said Miami has spent the past two days working on nothing but defense.

“We have to get back to our identity,” Spoelstra said. “The ability to defend with incredible activity and energy is what leads to deflections and stops and fastbreaks. It energizes us.”