Like much else this postseason, a large portion of the Nowitzki task will fall on the broad shoulders of LeBron James.
Even though he gives up a few inches to Nowistki, James’ physical tools and defensive instincts make him the most imposing defender Nowitzki has faced.
James is stronger, quicker and outweighs him.
His seven-foot wingspan means he can at the very least keep a hand in his face whenever the big German shoots.
but will it be enough?
Well it’s unlikely that James will be able to limit him to six percent shooting, like he did to Derrick Rose, but considering how locked in defensively he has been the last few weeks, you wouldn’t want to bet against him being at least somewhat effective.
Right now, this series has all the makings to be the most captivating individual Finals matchup in recent years.
The most potent offensive force, a man who scored 48 points while missing just three shots, against the stingiest perimeter defender.
It doesn't get much better than that.
WHAT WADE WILL THEY GET?
If you’ve caught any of the preview shows recently, you’ve probably noticed that every third word seems to be “x-factor.” X-factor this, x-factor that.
Some say the bench, others say the bigs. But really, that’s all secondary.
The most significant and unpredictable variable has to be Dwyane Wade.
His play will ultimately swing the series.
James will very likely dominate his matchup against Shawn Marion and continue to play at his ridiculously high level.
Chris Bosh should have enough impactful performances and meaningful moments. Chicago and Boston presented far more challenges for him.
But what about Wade?
For Miami to beat a Dallas team that’s far more well-rounded than that one-man Chicago show, the Heat cannot have the same Wade from last round.
Sure, he had two huge fourth quarters and swung both of those games, but by and large his play against the Bulls was sub-par by his lofty standards.
Wade often looked tired and uncertain.
The four-day break will help with the former, but what about the latter?
Judging by his body of work and not just the last round, you have to give Wade the benefit of the doubt and assume that he will raise his game.
For the past seven years, his play has risen with the stage.
Not seeing Ronnie Brewer, Chicago’s athletic perimeter defender, will also help.
Wade won’t have to recreate his ’06 form for Miami to knock off Dallas this time around.
That’s the luxury that last summer brought him.
But he will have to punish Dallas every time they go small.
Dallas’ most dangerous lineup features either Jason Terry or Barea flanking Jason Kidd.
On those occasions, one of those three will be on Wade.
None should stand a chance.
Considering just how much Miami has overcome this season—both media-created and real—it’s hard to imagine any player on the team being fazed by the moment.
Yes, Dallas will be Miami’s toughest opponent.
And no, The Heat hasn’t faced a team with a single player as dominant as Nowitzki.
But then again, Dallas hasn’t seen a defense as smothering as Miami’s.
What it will again come down to is simple math: three stars trump one.
That, and David Stern does not want to hand Mark Cuban the trophy any time soon.
Final Prediction: Heat in six
Finals MVP: LeBron James