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Monday, December 26, 2011
Heat didn't watch, but heard banner ceremony

By Jeff Caplan

DALLAS -- It certainly is odd for the loser of the NBA Finals to begin the following season in the champion's house. It's a little awkward, too, considering the pomp and circumstance surrounding the home team's banner raising and final celebration of the previous season's triumph.

Sunday, the Dallas Mavericks and Miami Heat took the American Airlines Center floor for warmups at about 1 p.m. At 1:12, the Heat walked off the court to a chorus of boos and headed back to their locker room. At 1:13, the Mavs' banner ceremony began.

"Yes, we heard it, but at the end of the day they are the champions and they deserve it," Heat guard Dwyane Wade said. "We just came back to the locker room and stretched and got ready for when it was time to get back out on the court."

And when they did it was all business. The Heat exacted a little instant payback, building an early lead that hit 35 points in the third quarter before finishing off a 105-94 victory. Wade, who had 26 points, eight rebounds and six assists to go with LeBron James' 37 points, 10 rebounds and six assists, said forget about making statements.

"One game. We came out and played this game," Wade said. "We’re 1-0 and they’re 0-1, and I’m sure they’re going to be a very good team and so are we."

The Heat are the prohibitive favorites to repeat as Eastern Conference champs and to win it all.

"I’m encouraged," Wade said. "It’s different from last year and we’re little more together and more comfortable.  This is step one and we did a good job. Now we move on and get ready for Boston."

The next time the Mavs see the Heat, Dallas will hope it's a bit more of a cohesive unit. And it will certainly be intriguing to see where the Heat are when the Mavs make their lone trip to Miami on March 29.