DALLAS – The Mavericks could really use Caron Butler in the NBA Finals.
There is a slim chance Butler could be available, according to coach Rick Carlisle. But Butler hasn’t even been cleared for contact yet. Even in the unlikely event that he can play, it’s crazy to believe that Butler could just chip off more than five months of rust to compete against King James.
That’s too bad, especially because Butler got the best of LeBron James during the Mavs’ regular-season sweep of the Heat.
Butler averaged 18 points on 54.2 percent shooting in the Mavs’ two wins over Miami. James had subpar performances in both games, averaging 21 points on 30.5 percent shooting, although he produced 9.0 rebounds and 5.5 assists.
When Butler was on the floor, James averaged 17.7 points per 36 minutes on 28 percent shooting. Butler’s numbers against LeBron: 23.8 points per 36 minutes on 57 percent shooting. The Mavs outscored the Heat by 28 points in the 53 minutes both players were on the floor.
With the 6-foot-7, 228-pound Butler in the mix, the Mavs always had fresh, rugged bodies they could use against James and Dwyane Wade. Butler, Shawn Marion, DeShawn Stevenson and Jason Kidd gave the Mavs at least four options in those matchups.
The Mavs replaced Butler by signing Peja Stojakovic and Corey Brewer. Stojakovic simply isn’t quick enough to defend James or Wade, so coach Rick Carlisle will have to pick his spots to use the sharpshooter carefully. Brewer lacks the strength and is the odd man out of Carlisle’s rotation anyway.
The Mavs won’t whine or use Butler’s injury as an excuse, but it’s a shame they can’t match up with Miami at full strength.