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Heading into Game 2 of the NBA Finals, all eyes are on the left middle finger of Dallas' star forward Dirk Nowitzki. The Mavs' cornerstone tore a tendon at the tip of the finger late in Tuesday's Game 1.
Though the injury normally takes six weeks to heel, Nowitzki was able to finish the game, and Wednesday he reported that the finger was not sore as he thought it would be. This could mean he won't need a splint when the Mavs and Heat tip off tonight.
Even so, expect the Heat to do everything they can to test Dirk's non-shooting hand. If Nowitzki isn't on the business end of a hard foul by the end of the first quarter, then the Heat are doing something wrong.
"Somebody's going to swat down on it, whether they want to or not," Chris Bosh said yesterday. "It's painful. As ballplayers, we all go through it."
Though Dirk shoots with his right hand, he could have trouble dribbling and passing with his left hand. He likes to drive to the left in order to find an open spot on the floor to shoot.
For that reason, the Heat will supplement hand checks on Nowitzki by testing his tendency to move to the left. It may sound like a desperate gambit to slow down Nowitzki, but the Heat will take whatever advantage they can get, especially considering he was able to score 27 points in Game 1 even though he shot a paltry 39% from the floor.
Not that the Mavs are worried. Dirk told reporters yesterday, "I think once the game starts, the adrenaline starts flowing, I don't think it will really slow me down much."
"I think Dirk can shoot the ball with his eyes closed, with no hands, if he had to, especially in a game of this magnitude," teammate Jason Terry added.
It will be up to the Heat to make Nowitzki prove it tonight.