Better box out: Heat duo hot on boards

May, 27, 2011
5/27/11
8:00
AM CT

Shawn Marion's job just got tougher. The Miami Heat don't don't have great size inside, yet they forcefully rebound the basketball because their two big wing guys crash the boards.

LeBron James (8.7) and Dwyane Wade (7.3) are combining for 16 rebounds a game in the playoffs with nearly four coming on the offensive end (Chris Bosh leads the team at 8.9).

Shawn Marion starts on LeBron, but that doesn't mean he won't see Wade, too. Either way, he'll have to keep his man in check. Marion is an excellent career rebounder and not everyone realizes he boasts four seasons averaging double-digit boards. Tyson Chandler has two (he averaged 9.4 this season).

Marion does his best work on the offensive glass-- grabbing one-third of his total postseason rebounds (6.3 a game) there -- and the 6-foot-7, 228-pound Matrix will be challenged there.

The energetic Thunder drilled Dallas on the boards. After Game 4, coach Rick Carlisle said: "We're getting outrebounded by eight a game in the series on average, and that’s a big concern."

Help on LeBron and Wade will have to come from all directions because the Mavs' 2s and 3s excluding Marion -- DeShawn Stevenson, Jason Terry and Peja Stojakovic -- won't get many boards. Corey Brewer, a bouncy 6-foot-9 forward is an option, although he's also low-volume rebounder. Jason Kidd, Tyson Chandler and Brendan Haywood will have to be alert.

The Heat ranked third in the NBA in rebounding differential (plus-2.97). Entering Thursday's Game 5 they'd taken it up a tick to plus-3.07 even though playing the Chicago Bulls, an extraordinary rebounding team. By contrast, the Mavs are getting outboarded in the playoffs by 2.1 a game.

OKC got them by 22 boards in Game 4, but the Mavs got away with it. Against the Heat, it's doubtful they'll be as fortunate.

Marion's job just got tougher, but it can't just be on him.

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TEAM LEADERS

POINTS
Dirk Nowitzki
PTS AST STL MIN
21.7 2.7 0.9 32.9
OTHER LEADERS
ReboundsD. Nowitzki 6.2
AssistsM. Ellis 5.7
StealsM. Ellis 1.7
BlocksB. Wright 0.9