Tuesday Finals Bullets

  • Brian Windhorst on the whirlwind of the last year in LeBron James' life. Good stuff.

  • As the Maverick defense rotates, they try to keep Dirk Nowitzki from guarding anybody who'd get him into foul trouble.

  • All this talk about the Heat players who'll guard Dirk Nowitzki in crunch time. Joel Anthony, Udonis Haslem, Chris Bosh, LeBron James ... I asked all but James yesterday if they wanted or expected to get the call to cover him in crunch time. Bosh and Anthony said all the team-centric things. Haslem, though, could not have been more clear. "I would hope so," he said, more than once. He has had big success against Nowitzki on the big stage in the past. This series is not really a rematch of 2006, but that matchup is ...

  • Erik Spoelstra hasn't washed his clothes in five years. I mean, he has washed some of them. But not all of them. I question that.

  • If Ricky Rubio signs with the Timberwolves today -- and today's the last day -- he can sign a deal under the current CBA. If he doesn't, he can only come after a new CBA has been signed, and that will, presumably, cut his salary even further.

  • Ethan Sherwood Strauss speaks on HoopSpeak of Siberia, and the media, and the Heat: "The breakup of the Shaq-Kobe Lakers had left a vacuum. And if the Spurs, Pistons, Heat, or Mavericks filled it as contenders, they certainly did not replace the Lakers as a brand. The NBA was less meaningful in those days, less important."

  • John Krolik on Heat Index: "Miami's athletic, swarming, physical defense might be able to slow the Mavericks down, but the reality is that if the Heat want to win this championship, the offense will have to hum, with the Big Three playing in sync and the role players ready to step up and make a play when needed. That means no prolonged stretches in which the offense devolves into either James or Wade watching the other one work in isolation or try to run a screen-roll 28 feet from the basket. No corner sets that fizzle out and turn into Joel Anthony desperately handing the ball off to a perimeter player with eight seconds left on the shot clock."

  • Dave from BlazersEdge: "The Portland Trail Blazers are a car trying to crest a hill after they've lost their engine."

  • Jason Kidd says LeBron James was exactly right in passing to an open Donyell Marshall all those years ago.

  • Not long ago, Mark Cuban was making a pitch to lure LeBron James to Dallas.

  • Look at Dirk Nowitzki's right hand in this photo. He does that! He did that to Dwyane Wade in 2006.

  • Shawn Marion has guarded an NBA who's who in these playoffs. Kobe Bryant, Kevin Durant (and he adds, Brandon Roy and LaMarcus Aldridge) in these playoffs. Now, LeBron James, against whom he has been pretty good in the past.

  • Don't think I've ever seen a better photo of Pat Riley.

  • Nick Collison has played well.

  • The dunks of the conference finals.

  • Raptors Republic is putting a lot of great heavy lifting into the draft. Dig in.

  • Ian Levy of The Two Man Game on Caron Butler: "Caron Butler is unlikely to play in this series, even though he’s technically been cleared to play after recovering from a gruesome knee injury. That injury seemed cruel at the time, but as the season has unfolded, that cruelty has taken on an entirely new meaning; Butler served as a crucial contributor in each of the Mavs’ regular season wins against the Heat, and yet a single bad fall has robbed him of the ability to participate in this series. Butler’s defensive presence will be particularly missed against LeBron James and Dwyane Wade on the wing, and his absence puts a lot of pressure on DeShawn Stevenson, Shawn Marion, and Jason Kidd to hold their defensive ground. In addition, Butler has a personal history with Wade and the Heat. He was drafted by the Heat in 2002, and spent two seasons with the team. His second season was Wade’s rookie year and saw the team win 42 games and a playoff series against the New Orleans Hornets. Committed to Wade as the team’s centerpiece, the Heat saw Caron Butler as an inadequate complimentary piece. He was traded the following summer in the deal that brought Shaquille O’Neal -- and ultimately, the 2006 title -- to Miami. For someone who didn’t participate in the 2006 Finals, his fate is still greatly intertwined in those events."

  • Give him a ringing endorsement or fire him already. Limbo is awkward. The saga of John Kuester and the Pistons.