Defending Dirk Nowitzki is a problem

MIAMI -- Other than talking about fake coughs and whether or not it can salvage the season on Sunday night, the Miami Heat are having problems defending Mavericks forward Dirk Nowitzki.

In the five games, Nowitzki is averaging 27 points while shooting 50 percent from three-point range and 43.9 percent from the field overall. Nowitzki has beaten up the Heat with two game-winning baskets, a layup and a jumper and almost beat them with another jumper that hit the back of the rim in a loss.

The Heat employ Joel Anthony, Udonis Haslem and Chris Bosh on Nowitzki in the series. At times, Nowitzki is faced with a double-team when he comes out of the pick-and-rolls.

"The only way I know how to play is physical," Haslem said. "It is what it is you got to be physical and I got to get up on him, I got to make him put it on the floor and play the way I know how to play. It's up to the referees to make the calls."

Practice doesn't help Haslem much in terms of preparing for Nowitzki because there are so few players like him: A seven-footer with an excellent jump shot.

"Can't nobody simulate Dirk," Haslem said. "He's unique and pretty much one of a kind almost. You got a few guys in the league that's similar but nobody can simulate Dirk Nowitzki. The only way you get practice against Dirk is to practice against Dirk."

Maybe Juwan Howard said it best: "You can't simulate Dirk, just like you can't simulate Michael [Jordan]."