MIAMI, FL - JUNE 12: Dirk Nowitzki #41 of the Dallas Mavericks reacts after making a three-pointer in the fourth quarter while taking on the Miami Heat in Game Six of the 2011 NBA Finals at American Airlines Arena on June 12, 2011 in Miami, Florida. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

Dallas Mavericks Win 2011 NBA Finals With Game 6 Win Over Miami

Congratulations to the Dallas Mavericks and former Suns favorites, Shawn Marion and Jason Kidd on winning the 2011 NBA Finals.

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Dallas Mavericks Win 2011 NBA Finals With Game 6

With the clock ticking down, Dallas defense took on a new level of insane, forcing turnovers and blocking shots. They even managed some second chance points thanks to a few offensive rebounds. The Mavericks began playing with the clock, running it down before they took their shots. They had a nine point lead with just under three minutes to play, and then Dirk, with hands in his face, hit a beautiful jump shot. It was at this point that Heat fans quietly began to file out of the arena... 

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NBA Finals Schedule: Dallas Takes Series Lead Back To Miami, Game 6 Sunday

Game 5 of the 2011 NBA Finals belongs to the Dallas Mavericks who played their game and beat the Miami Heat in a high-scoring affair. We always thought that if the scoring was over 100 it would favor Dallas but it was the Game 4 win (86-83) that the Mavericks won despite Dirk Nowitzki's illness that was even more impressive. The schedule now has the series moving back to to Miami for Game 6 on Sunday and Game 7 (if needed) on Tuesday.

The Miami Heat, as coach Erik Spoelstra said in his postgame press conference, need to get the game back to being a defensive grind. Their offense isn't good enough to keep up with the Mavericks if they are going to allow Jason Terry (21 points) and J.J. Barea (17 points) to go off.

There's no word yet on the status of Dwyane Wade who left the game due to a hip contusion. Wade ended up playing 34 minutes and scored 23 points and eight assists. LeBron James had a triple double (17 points, 10 assists and 10 rebounds) but only had two points in the fourth quarter.

Game 6 of the 2011 NBA Finals tips off on Sunday June 12, 2011 at 8:00 p.m. ET / 5:00 p.m. PT on ABC.  Game 7 (if needed) will be Tuesday June 14, 2011 at 9:00 p.m. ET / 6:00 p.m. PT.

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DALLAS, TX - JUNE 09: (L-R) Dirk Nowitzki #41 and Shawn Marion #0 of the Dallas Mavericks celebrate their 112-103 win against the Miami Heat in Game Five of the 2011 NBA Finals at American Airlines Center on June 9, 2011 in Dallas, Texas. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)

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Mavs Win Game 5, Beat Heat 112-103

Dirk does his usual awesome stuff, Kidd hits a HUGE 3 and gives us a 105-100 lead with 1:26 left in the game. Mad props to Tyson Chandler for taking a crucial charge against Lebron and for a great block on Wade. Late in the game Haslem is denying the pass to Dirk and what happens? THE. JET. He takes a 3 and gives a 7 point lead with 33 seconds to go!...

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NBA Finals Schedule: Crucial Game 5 Set To Tip Off In Dallas, Which LeBron James Will Show Up?

One of the most exciting Finals in recent history has now become a best-of-three series. The Dallas Mavericks, carrying with them the hopes and dreams of a Miami Heat-hating nation, evened the 2011 NBA Finals up at two games a piece with yet another legendary fourth-quarter comeback, led by -- who else -- the incomparable Dirk Nowitzki. Despite Dwyane Wade's best efforts -- and he was spectacular, to be sure -- the Heat again sputtered down the stretch, coughing up a nine point lead late in the final period.

This time Dallas coach Rick Carlisle was the one making brilliant adjustments, inserting J.J. Barea into the starting lineup in place of DeShawn Stevenson, Brian Cardinal into the rotation instead of a listless Peja Stojakovic, and managing the Mavericks minutes so that a flu-ridden Dirk Nowitzki could maintain some level of freshness for the fourth quarter. Everything worked to perfection, and Dallas capped off another dramatic comeback with Nowitzki's driving layup with 14 seconds left on the clock.

Though, once again, the ensuing aftermath centered around the enigma that is LeBron James. Following another anemic performance -- in which the most gifted player in the game managed to score just eight points -- pundits everywhere reveled in the baffling behavior. Suddenly the man who brutally dominated Derrick Rose in the Eastern Conference Finals doesn't have the drive to be great when it matters. Doesn't have the heart to be a champion.

By now the story must be getting old for James, a two-time MVP, who's classic fallback of not having enough help around him is no longer a valid sentiment. Through four games in the 2011 NBA Finals, the young star's fourth quarter statistics read as follows: nine points, seven rebounds, six assists, five turnovers. Sooner or later, one would figure, the man they call "King" will channel that rage and unleash the unstoppable storm that everyone knows he is capable of.

"I think it's that time that I try to get myself going individually," James said, a tinge of defiance in his voice. Following Miami's latest collapse, the fire that has been lost from LeBron for so much of the series was music to Dwyane Wade's ears, as he hastily agreed, "Sounds good to me."

Game 5 of the 2011 NBA Finals tips off on Thursday June 9, 2011 at 9:00 p.m. ET / 6:00 p.m. PT on ABC. After Game 5 the series will shift back to Miami, and one team will be crowned champions on South Beach.

Here's the full remaining schedule for the 2011 NBA Finals:
Game 6  Sunday June 12, 2011 at 8:00 p.m. ET / 5:00 p.m. PT
Game 7* Tuesday June 14, 2011 at 9:00 p.m. ET / 6:00 p.m. PT
*If necessary

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DALLAS, TX - JUNE 08: LeBron James of the Miami Heat attends NBA Finals Media Availability on June 8, 2011 at American Airlines Center in Dallas, Texas. The series is tied 2-2, with Game 5 tipping of Thursday June 9, 2011. (Photo by Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images)

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NBA Finals Schedule: Dallas Considers Game 5 'Must Win' Before Heading To Miami

The 2011 NBA Finals have certainly been exciting with the Game 4 win by the Dallas Mavericks being right up there. Similar to Game 3 when the Miami Heat got the big bucket late, this time it was Dirk Nowitzki who put the ball on the floor and drove right for a layup with 14 seconds left. Dallas defense also deserves credit for holding LeBron James to just eight points on 3-11 shooting.

The Mavericks can withstand a great game from Dwyane Wade (32 points) when they are holding James and the Heat role players in check. The game was tight all through the fourth quarter but it was the Mavericks springing their zone defense at the right time that allowed them to get a few key stops. Jason Terry (17 points) and Shawn Marion (16 points) came through on a night when Dirk Nowtizki was battling illness and was held to 21 points on 6-19 shooting.

'I've got to do a better job offensively. I've got to do a better job," James said after the game.

LeBron promised to be more aggressive in the next game and the Heat team in general should be better prepared for some of the wrinkles thrown at them by Dallas coach Rick Carlisle. The Mavericks are a great chemistry team and deserve a lot of credit stepping up and getting the win with their best player not at full strength. The challenge for those role players will be to avoid leaning to heavily on Dirk in the next game assuming he's healthy.

Game 5 of the 2011 NBA Finals tips off on Thursday June 9, 2011 at 9:00 p.m. ET / 6:00 p.m. PT on ABC. With the series tied and headed back to Miami for Game 6, this will be an important game for both team.

Here's the full remaining schedule for the 2011 NBA Finals:
Game 6  Sunday June 12, 2011 at 8:00 p.m. ET / 5:00 p.m. PT
Game 7 * Tuesday June 14, 2011 at 9:00 p.m. ET / 6:00 p.m. PT
*If necessary

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DALLAS, TX - JUNE 07: (L-R) Tyson Chandler #6, Dirk Nowitzki #41 and Jason Kidd #2 of the Dallas Mavericks look on against the Miami Heat in Game Four of the 2011 NBA Finals at American Airlines Center on June 7, 2011 in Dallas, Texas. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

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NBA Finals Schedule: Mavericks Outclassed By Heat Talent

The Dallas Mavericks absolutely can't afford to lose Game 4 of the 2011 NBA Finals. The Miami Heat hold a 2-1 lead in the series and with a win Tuesday would be a virtual lock to win the Larry O'Brien Trophy. The task for the Mavericks is to solve the Heat defense and find a way to get some of their other scorers involved in the game and putting up points.

There's two ways to look at the series so far if you are a Dallas fan. On the one hand, the Mavericks won a road game and were very much in Game 3 and lost by just two points. On the other hand, all the breaks (and calls) went their way in that third game and they still lost. They won the rebounding (+6) and took 12 more free throws and still didn't win. The Heat have yet to get a big game from Chris Bosh and they essentially blew Game 2 with their own hubris after taking a big lead late in the fourth quarter.

What's pretty clear in watching this series is that the Heat have more talent on the floor at crunch time. LeBron James hasn't had to put up big shooting numbers because the Mavericks don't have anyone that can guard Dwyane Wade. James has been able to focus his efforts on the defensive end where he's shut down Jason Terry and at some point in this series, if needed, he's going to guard Dirk Nowitzki

The Heat have lead the majority of this series so far and have yet to play a complete game. If they can bring the right mental focus to Game 4 (as they did in Game 3), they should be able to win Tuesday's game and essentially end the series. For Dallas to win, their shooters will need to find some other way to get open looks and hit them when they come. Most importantly, Dallas can't turnover the ball as they've done too many times in this series.

Game 4 of the 2011 NBA Finals tips off on Tuesday June 7, 2011 at 9:00 p.m. ET / 6:00 p.m. PT on ABC. Down 2-1 in the series, Dallas needs to play it's best basketball to avoid a deep hole.

Here's the full remaining schedule for the 2011 NBA Finals:
Game 5 Thursday June 9, 2011 at 9:00 p.m. ET / 6:00 p.m. PT
Game 6 * Sunday June 12, 2011 at 8:00 p.m. ET / 5:00 p.m. PT
Game 7 * Tuesday June 14, 2011 at 9:00 p.m. ET / 6:00 p.m. PT
*If necessary

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Miami Heat's Dwyane Wade and LeBron James, right, wait to shoot during a practice session for Game 4 of the NBA Finals basketball game Monday, June 6, 2011, in Dallas. The Heat lead the Dallas Mavericks 2-1 in the series. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)

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NBA Finals Schedule: Miami Heat Control Pace, Control Series

For the Miami Heat, the final seconds of their 2011 NBA Finals Game 3 win over the Dallas Mavericks went exactly as they envisioned it. When they assembled their "big three" superstars LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, and Chris Bosh the hope was that at some point in crunch time of an NBA Finals game they would have too much talent on the floor for the other team to guard. That's exactly how it played out when LeBron and Wade ran a pick and roll and the Mavericks were forced to double-team each of them which left Bosh wide open for the game-winning shot.

It's slightly ironic that this 2011 NBA Finals which was billed as "stars (Heat) vs. team (Mavericks)" came down to the Heat running a great play while the Mavericks drew up a straight isolation look for Dirk Nowitzki to tie the game at the buzzer. Dirk was defended well but got off a shot over Udonis Haslem that for most players is highly improbable but for Dirk is about a 50/50 proposition. It just barely missed and the Heat took a 2-1 lead in the series over the Mavericks.

We said all along that for the Mavericks to win against Miami, the games needed to be played at a faster pace and with more scoring. Games in the 80's or low 90's favor the Heat while Dallas should hold the advantage if they can get the score over 100. To do that though, Dallas needs more production from J.J. Barea and Peja Stojakovic who've been absent so far in the series thanks in large part to Miami's defense which doesn't get enough credit. 

Game 4 of the 2011 NBA Finals tips off on Tuesday June 7, 2011 at 9:00 p.m. ET / 6:00 p.m. PT on ABC. Down 2-1 in the series, Dallas needs to get more of its offense involved in the game.

Here's the full remaining schedule for the 2011 NBA Finals:
Game 5 Thursday June 9, 2011 at 9:00 p.m. ET / 6:00 p.m. PT
Game 6 * Sunday June 12, 2011 at 8:00 p.m. ET / 5:00 p.m. PT
Game 7 * Tuesday June 14, 2011 at 9:00 p.m. ET / 6:00 p.m. PT
*If necessary

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Miami Heat's LeBron James dunks during the second half of Game 3 of the NBA Finals basketball game against the Dallas Mavericks Sunday, June 5, 2011, in Dallas. The Heat won 88-86 take a 2-1 lead in the series. (AP Photo/Mike Ehrmann; Pool)

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Miami Heat: Fourth Quarter Issues Continue In NBA Finals, Defeat Mavericks Anyway

As the third game of the NBA Finals reached the fourth quarter, the Miami Heat were up 67-64 and looked to be handling the pressure of a road game against the Dallas Mavericks quite well.

When the clock began to wind down in the fourth, the Heat seized up. Fouls were called and the Heat found themselves looking for the whistle to be blown during their possessions.

What causes this superstar-laden squad to lose their edge in the waning moments? The fact of the matter is, they get away from their game plan.

Dwayne Wade took over as the point guard, and it was very clear that both LeBron James and Chris Bosh deferred to him as the unquestioned leader.

The Mavericks played hungry, intense defense in the final frame, forcing the superstar Heat trio to take rushed shots, limiting their ability to create off the dribble.

Wade was double-teamed outside the arc on several possessions, with the goal to force the ball away from Wade and towards another Miami player.

Heat coach Erik Spoelstra is a major factor in this inconsistency. Instead of running the offense the same way throughout the game, he goes by feel or gives way to his superstars.

Sometimes, this superstar-focused mentality pays off, like it did when the Heat restored home-court advantage and defeated the Mavericks 88-86 on Sunday night. Other nights, 15 point leads can disappear in a matter of minutes.

The whole Miami superstar experiment has had several interesting chapters. Tonight, we watched as Bosh, James and Wade took over in the final five minutes, while role players seemed to disappear completely.

Time will tell if this change of playing style will pay off with a championship for the Heat in 2011, but it's very difficult to see exactly how this team will support each other throughout the years when touches are so limited in clutch situations. As of today, the team's attitude and morale looks good -- but will it continue?

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NBA Finals Schedule: LeBron James Needs To Recover In Game 3

The 2011 NBA Finals resume after a few days off for the Miami Heat to ponder how they blew a big fourth quarter lead at home to let the Dallas Mavericks up off the mat and back into the series. Game 3 schedule calls for a tip off in Dallas at 8:00 p.m. ET / 5:00 p.m. PT on ABC. It will be interesting to see how LeBron James and Dwyane Wade respond on the road after the disappointment of their blown opportunity.

The mental part of the game has always been more of a challenge for LeBron than the physical where he's so dominant. To beat a veteran, hungry Dallas team on the road, LeBron will need to raise the level of his game from being an incredible player to being a champion.

For the Mavericks, this series continues to be all about Dirk Nowitzki and the Mavericks bench. Jason Terry will need to show up from the beginning of the game and not wait for some slight to his pride before he brings it. Shawn Marion has played extremely well but is known for disappearing at times in the playoffs. 

Here's the full remaining schedule for the 2011 NBA Finals.

Game 3 Sunday June 5, 2011 at 8:00 p.m. ET / 5:00 p.m. PT
Game 4 Tuesday June 7, 2011 at 9:00 p.m. ET / 6:00 p.m. PT
Game 5  Thursday June 9, 2011 at 9:00 p.m. ET / 6:00 p.m. PT
Game 6 * Sunday June 12, 2011 at 8:00 p.m. ET / 5:00 p.m. PT
Game 7 * Tuesday June 14, 2011 at 9:00 p.m. ET / 6:00 p.m. PT
*If necessary

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DALLAS, TX - JUNE 04: Dirk Nowitzki (R) and Shawn Marion of the Dallas Mavericks stand on the court during a practice session prior to Game 3 of the 2011 NBA Finals at the American Airlines Center on June 4, 2011 in Dallas, Texas. (Photo by Chris Chambers/Getty Images)

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NBA Finals Schedule: Series Tied Going To Dallas Thanks To Heat Hubris

With 7:14 left in Game 2 of the 2011 NBA Finals, Dwyane Wade hit a three-point shot that put the Miami Heat up 88-73 over the Dallas Mavericks. At that point everyone thought the game was over, including the LeBron James and Wade who celebrated wildly right in front of the Mavericks bench. Unfortunately for the Heat, Dallas didn't think the game was over and used their anger at being disrespected and Miami's own hubris to climb back in the game and tie the series 1-1. The next three games will be in Dallas with Game 3 on Sunday, June 5 at 8:00 p.m. ET / 5:00 p.m. PT.

Dallas outscored Miami 22-5 in those final seven minutes as they raised their game to another level and simply overwhelmed the Heat with their energy and will. It's fitting in so many ways for the more talented Heat team to be done in by their own arrogance. 

Wade insisted the celebration in front of the Mavericks bench after hit the three-point shot to put Miami up 15 was perfectly fine.

"There was no celebration. It was a shot made going into a timeout. Every team does something. That's the game. If it pumped them up -- they won the game. Obviously it did something. That's not the first time. It won't be the last time that -- if we do a great play that we come and our teammates and we do something," Wade said.

Miami should be able to learn a lesson from this and dominate the rest of the series but if Dallas' confidence is able to carryover and win them the NBA Finals it will be the fourth quarter of Game 2 that was the turning point. Up to that point, the Heat were dominating the Mavericks with their defense and athleticism which produced 30 points off 20 Dallas turnovers.

Here's the full remaining schedule for the 2011 NBA Finals.

Game 3 Sunday June 5, 2011 at 8:00 p.m. ET / 5:00 p.m. PT
Game 4 Tuesday June 7, 2011 at 9:00 p.m. ET / 6:00 p.m. PT
Game 5 * Thursday June 9, 2011 at 9:00 p.m. ET / 6:00 p.m. PT
Game 6 * Sunday June 12, 2011 at 8:00 p.m. ET / 5:00 p.m. PT
Game 7 * Tuesday June 14, 2011 at 9:00 p.m. ET / 6:00 p.m. PT
*If necessary

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Miami Heat's LeBron James (6) speaks with Dwyane Wade during the second half of Game 2 of the NBA Finals basketball game against the Dallas Mavericks, Thursday, June 2, 2011, in Miami. The Mavericks defeated the Heat 95-93. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

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NBA Finals Not Over Yet, But Heat Have Mavericks By The Horns

The NBA Finals are only one game into this series but already things are leaning heavily towards the Miami Heat. The Dallas Mavericks managed to keep things close enough on the scoreboard but the slower tempo and rebounding deficiencies don't bode well. LeBron James has proven to be the best closer in the 2011 NBA Playoffs and he's surrounded by a higher class of talent than Dirk Nowitzki.

Dallas fans over at Mavs Moneyball remain optimistic however, as they see the Mavericks bench coming through and hitting shots that were open, but missed in Game 1. "There are devastating losses, and then there are palatable ones. I believe that Tuesday's loss to the Heat in game one falls into the latter category for multiple reasons."

Game 2 of the 2011 NBA Finals between the Miami  Heat and Dallas Mavericks tips off in Miami at 9:00 p.m. ET / 6:00 p.m. PT and will be broadcast on TV on ABC.

Here's the full schedule for the series.

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MIAMI, FL - JUNE 01: Dirk Nowitzki #41 of the Dallas Mavericks shoots during NBA Finals Media Availability on June 1, 2011 at American Airlines Arena in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images)

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2011 NBA Finals Schedule: Injured Nowitzki Looks To Even Series With Streaking Heat

Game 1 of the 2011 NBA Finals belonged to LeBron James and the Miami Heat. The Dallas Mavericks hope to flip that for Game 2. Led by the Big Three, a sweltering defense, and a dominant fourth quarter, the streaking Heat took charge of the NBA Finals, winning 92-84 on their home court in South Beach. Now Dirk Nowitzki, hampered by an injured tendon in his left middle finger, will attempt to lead the never-say-die Mavericks back into the series and steal one away before the schedule shifts back to Dallas.

The stars were out in full force for Game 1, as LeBron James dominated the game on both sides of the ball, Dwyane Wade poured in 22 clutch points, and Chris Bosh pounded the boards. However, the two most telling stats of all were the ones that the Heat were never supposed to win. Miami dominated the offensive glass, 16-6, while the Heat bench -- led by a sublime performance from Udonis Haslem -- significantly outscored the Dallas bench, 27-17, holding sixth-man-extraordinaire Jason Terry scoreless throughout the second half. In all, the Dallas bench shot a putrid 4-22 from the field.

Game 2 is going to rest on the Dallas' ability to put aside that performance and play like they have this entire postseason. Jason Terry, Peja Stojakovic, and J.J. Barea can't continue to miss wide-open shots if the Mavericks want win the 2011 NBA Finals. This is likely the last shot at the Larry O'Brien Trophy for many of the pivotal Dallas veterans, such as Jason Kidd, Shawn Marion, and Dirk Nowitzki, so expect the team to come with a sense of fire and desperation.

Game 2 of the 2011 NBA Finals between the Heat and Mavericks is scheduled for Thursday at 9:00 p.m. ET / 6:00 p.m. PT on ABC. Needless to say, it is a crucial game for Dallas.

Remaining schedule:
Game 3 June 5, 2011 at 8:00 p.m. ET / 5:00 p.m. PT
Game 4 June 7, 2011 at 9:00 p.m. ET / 6:00 p.m. PT
Game 5 * June 9, 2011 at 9:00 p.m. ET / 6:00 p.m. PT
Game 6 * June 12, 2011 at 8:00 p.m. ET / 5:00 p.m. PT
Game 7 * June 14, 2011 at 9:00 p.m. ET / 6:00 p.m. PT
*If necessary

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Dallas Mavericks' Dirk Nowitzki, left, of Germany, talks with Jason Kidd, right, as they stretch during basketball practice Wednesday, June 1, 2011, in Miami. The Mavericks play the Miami Heat in Game 2 of the NBA finals on Thursday in Miami. The Heat lead the best-of-seven games series 1-0. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

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Dirk Nowitzki Finger Injury Won't Factor In NBA Finals Series

There's very little question that the Dallas Mavericks have little to no chance to beat the Miami Heat in the 2011 NBA Finals without their star, Dirk Nowitzki. The Heat are already favored by the Vegas odds makers (-180) to win the series and after slowing things down and winning Game 1 at their tempo that bet looks even safer. Fortunately, it appears that the injury Nowitzki suffered to his finger on his non-shooting hand won't impact the series.

Late in the game Dirk swiped at a ball and managed to tear a tendon in the middle finger of his left hand. Dirk is right-handed. X-rays showed no broken bones and another word for "torn tendon" is "sprain". Looking at how he had the finger wrapped after the game, the injury appears to be high up on the finger as opposed to nearer to the hand.

Nowitzki doesn't seem concerned and there's no reason to think we should be either. "I have to wear a splint probably for the rest of the playoffs, for a couple of weeks. But it will be all right."

This type of injury is common in basketball and while it will probably be a bit painful and bothersome, Nowtizki has proven to be a tough guy when it comes to playing through pain. It's going to take a lot more than a sprained finger on his non-shooting hand to slow down the German marksman.

Even LeBron James agrees it's a non-factor, "He's right-handed," James said. "It won't affect him. He's still going to be great. He's still Dirk."

The bigger concern for Dallas is how they can get some of their other guys going. They are in for a very short series if they are only getting 15 points off their bench as they did in Game 1. The Heat will find it difficult to get points from their role players as well which is why these games need to be over 100 points for the Mavericks to be competitive in the 2011 NBA Finals. Their depth and variety of offensive weapons is the concern for Dallas going into Game 2, not Dirk Nowitzki's injured finger.

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MIAMI, FL - MAY 31: Dirk Nowitzki of the Dallas Mavericks looks at his injured finger as he leaves the arena following the 92-84 loss to the Miami Heat in Game One of the 2011 NBA Finals on May 31, 2011 at the American Airlines Arena in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images)

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NBA Finals Schedule: Heat Look To Consolidate Lead Over Mavericks

The 2011 NBA Finals started off as many predicted. The Miami Heat threw far more defensive pressure at the Dallas Mavericks than anything Dirk Nowitzki and Jason Kidd dealt with so far in the NBA Playoffs. Game 1 went to LeBron James and the hated team from South Beach who controlled the pace and thoroughly enjoyed the low scoring grind won by the Heat, 92-84.

Dwyane Wade and LeBron James scored  22 and 24 with an additional 19 from Chris Bosh. The real difference though was Udonis Haslem's return. His 12 points and solid defense kept Nowitzki busy enough to allow the rest of the Heat to stay home on the shooters. The Heat bench, considered a weakness against Dallas' depth, won that battle 27-17.

In Game 2, Dallas is going to have to find more ways to put the ball in the basket. They were held to just 37 percent in the game and outside of Dirk's 27 points the Mavericks didn't get enough from anyone else. Shawn Marion chipped in 16 points and Jason Terry, 12, but Peja Stojakovic and J.J. Barea have to do better than two points.

Game 2 of the 2011 NBA Finals between the Heat and Mavericks is scheduled for Thursday at 9:00 p.m. ET / 6:00 p.m. PT on ABC. Dallas certainly doesn't want to go down 2-0 in the series.

Remaining schedule:
Game 3 June 5, 2011 at 8:00 p.m. ET / 5:00 p.m. PT
Game 4 June 7, 2011 at 9:00 p.m. ET / 6:00 p.m. PT
Game 5 * June 9, 2011 at 9:00 p.m. ET / 6:00 p.m. PT
Game 6 * June 12, 2011 at 8:00 p.m. ET / 5:00 p.m. PT
Game 7 * June 14, 2011 at 9:00 p.m. ET / 6:00 p.m. PT
*If necessary

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MIAMI, FL - MAY 31: (R) LeBron James #6 of the Miami Heat reacts with teammates Mario Chalmers #15, Dwyane Wade #3, Chris Bosh #1 and Udonis Haslem #40 in the fourth quarter while taking on the Dallas Mavericks in Game One of the 2011 NBA Finals at American Airlines Arena on May 31, 2011 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

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NBA Finals Schedule And Prediction: Miami Heat Ready For Dirk And Dallas Mavericks Shooting

The 2011 NBA Finals schedule begins on Tuesday with Game 1 in Miami. The Dallas Mavericks bring the playoffs hottest shooter to the game, Dirk Nowitzki, to face LeBron James and the Heat. Miami has clearly been the better defensive team in the 2011 NBA Playoffs but they've not faced anything like the Mavericks' ball movement, outside shooting and bench scoring. Dallas did a good job defensively against the Trail Blazers and Lakers but struggled against the Thunder's wing scoring and big, aggressive guard.

Unfortunately for Dallas, the very things the Thunder did well offensively, the Heat do even better. LeBron James and Dwyane Wade are a more mature and dynamic version of Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook. And while James Harden was a great addition at times, Dallas didn't have to worry about defending the paint against the likes of a Chris Bosh who's proven a few times in the playoffs that being the third star is well within his wheel house.

Mix in a revitalized Udonis Haslem to bang on Dirk and get under Tyson Chandler's skin and this series will likely end up with the hated Heat lifting the Larry O'Brien Trophy as the winner of the 2011 NBA Finals. For the Mavericks to win, Jason Kidd will have to defend Dwyane Wade and Shawn Marion will have to contain LeBron James for the entire series which is a tall task for those elderly gentlemen. 

Game 1 of the 2011 NBA Finals between the Miami Heat and Dallas Mavericks starts at 9:00 p.m. ET / 6:00 p.m. PT on Tuesday, May 31. ABC has the TV broadcast.

Prediction: Miami Heat beats the Dallas Mavericks to win the 2011 NBA Finals, 4-2

Here's the rest of the schedule for the series.

Game 2 June 2, 2011 at 9:00 p.m. ET / 6:00 p.m. PT
Game 3 June 5, 2011 at 8:00 p.m. ET / 5:00 p.m. PT
Game 4 June 7, 2011 at 9:00 p.m. ET / 6:00 p.m. PT
Game 5 * June 9, 2011 at 9:00 p.m. ET / 6:00 p.m. PT
Game 6 * June 12, 2011 at 8:00 p.m. ET / 5:00 p.m. PT
Game 7 * June 14, 2011 at 9:00 p.m. ET / 6:00 p.m. PT
*If necessary

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Dallas Mavericks' Jason Kidd, right, points as teammate Dirk Nowitzki, left, laughs during an NBA Finals basketball practice Monday, May 30, 2011, in Miami. The Dallas Mavericks will play the Heat in Game 1 of the NBA Finals Tuesday. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

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NBA Finals Schedule: Miami Heat Host Dallas Mavericks Tuesday, Game 1

The Miami Heat proved once again that in a close series the difference often comes down to the final few possessions. Just like the Dallas Mavericks, the Heat came from behind late in the game to beat the Chicago Bulls and advance to the 2011 NBA Finals. The series is both a rematch of the 2006 NBA Finals and a chance to see LeBron James and Dirk Nowitzki go head-to-head in crunch time. It should be a blast.

The Miami Heat with a NBA regular season record of 58-24 will host the Dallas Mavericks who went 57-25. Game 1 will be in Miami on Tuesday, May 31 at 9:00 p.m. ET / 6:00 p.m. PT with ABC holding the TV broadcast rights. The schedule format changes in the NBA Finals with the first two games at home, followed by three on the road and then the final two back on the home court of the team with the better regular season record.

Over the coming days we will get more into the specific match ups and ultimately will make a prediction on this series but here's some immediate thoughts. The Dallas Mavericks have the deeper team but are woefully undersized at the two guard. They will need a fantastic series from Shawn Marion defending LeBron James and of course, Dirk has to be Dirk and Jason Kidd and Jason Terry and J.J. Barea need to knock down threes.

The Heat have the best two players and have proven they can both play defense and score in crunch time. Dwyane Wade didn't have a great series against the stingy Bulls' defense but he should have more room to roam against the Mavs. Miami shouldn't have too much trouble scoring but is going to have a much harder time defending Dallas' ball movement and outside shooting.

Here's the full schedule for the 2011 NBA Finals with all games broadcast on ABC TV:

Game 1 May 31, 2011 at 9:00 p.m. ET / 6:00 p.m. PT

Game 2 June 2, 2011 at 9:00 p.m. ET / 6:00 p.m. PT
Game 3 June 5, 2011 at 8:00 p.m. ET / 5:00 p.m. PT
Game 4 June 7, 2011 at 9:00 p.m. ET / 6:00 p.m. PT
Game 5 * June 9, 2011 at 9:00 p.m. ET / 6:00 p.m. PT
Game 6 * June 12, 2011 at 8:00 p.m. ET / 5:00 p.m. PT
Game 7 * June 14, 2011 at 9:00 p.m. ET / 6:00 p.m. PT
*If necessary

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CHICAGO, IL - MAY 26: LeBron James #6 (C) and Udonis Haslem #40 of the Miami Heat dive for a loose ball against Ronnie Brewer #11 of the Chicago Bulls in Game Five of the Eastern Conference Finals during the 2011 NBA Playoffs on May 26, 2011 at the United Center in Chicago, Illinois. The Miami Heat beat the Chicago Bulls 83-80 and advance to the 2011 NBA Finals to meet the Dallas Mavericks. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

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NBA Finals Schedule: Mavericks Await Heat Vs. Bulls

The Dallas Mavericks used another late push to eliminate the young Oklahoma City Thunder and earn their way into the 2011 NBA Finals. Dallas is an impressive 12-3 in the 2011 NBA Playoffs and have used a combination of veteran savvy, desire, and a huge dose of Dirk Nowitzki brilliance to breeze through what was considered a very strong compliment of Western Conference teams. 

Dallas now waits for the winner of the 2011 NBA Eastern Conference Finals series between the Miami Heat and Chicago Bulls. The Heat are up 3-1 in that series with Game 5 on the schedule for Thursday. While Dirk has been the difference late in games for the Mavericks, it's been LeBron James shredding the myth that he can't close out games and proving that he, not Derrick Rose, is the true MVP of the NBA.

The Mavericks will get at least five days off to rest before Game 1 of the 2011 NBA Finals and they could get an extra two days if the Heat can't take care of the Bulls quickly. Game 1 is scheduled for Thursday, June 2 but the NBA has allowed for an early start on Tuesday, May 31 if both conference finals finish early.

[Note by Seth Pollack, 05/26/11 8:28 PM MST ]

With the Heat beating the Bulls in Game 5, the NBA has announced the following schedule for the 2011 NBA Finals:

Game 1 May 31, 2011, 9:00 p.m. ET / 6:00 p.m. PT on ABC

Game 2 June 2, 2011, 9:00 p.m. ET / 6:00 p.m. PT on ABC
Game 3 June 5, 2011, 8:00 p.m. ET / 5:00 p.m. PT on ABC
Game 4 June 7, 2011, 9:00 p.m. ET / 6:00 p.m. PT on ABC
Game 5 * June 9, 2011, 9:00 p.m. ET / 6:00 p.m. PT on ABC
Game 6 * June 12, 2011, 8:00 p.m. ET / 5:00 p.m. PT on ABC
Game 7 * June 14, 2011, 9:00 p.m. ET / 6:00 p.m. PT on ABC
*If necessary

The Miami Heat have home court advantage in the series.

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Dallas Mavericks forward Dirk Nowitzki holds up the NBA basketball Western Conference trophy after the Mavericks beat the Oklahoma City Thunder 100-96 on Wednesday, May 25, 2011, in Dallas. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)


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