No matter what Rick Carlisle wants to say, this isn’t just one of 15 games left on the Mavs’ regular-season schedule.
Jason Terry doesn’t just bust out the gold Reeboks for any game.
This is a chance for the Mavericks to make a statement, to let the rest of the NBA know that they’re going to have a legitimate shot to repeat as NBA champions. This Finals rematch is also a chance to get a little revenge after the Heat ruined the Mavs’ Christmas by dominating Dallas after the championship banner was raised to the American Airlines Center rafters before the season opener.
It’s also an opportunity for the Mavs to get right on the road. They’re only 10-14 away from the AAC this season after having the best road record in the league the last two seasons.
Records: Mavs (29-22); Heat (35-13)
When: 7 p.m.
Where: AmericanAirlines Arena
Radio: ESPN Dallas 103.3 FM/1270 AM (Spanish)
What to watch: Can the Mavs keep the Miami offense from rediscovering its rhythm? The Heat have looked horrible while losing the last two games by double digits. Miami committed a total of 38 turnovers in the losses to the Thunder and Pacers. The Mavs let the Heat get in the open floor way too often and way too easily in the season-opening embarrassment, giving up 31 fast-break points to Miami in that game. The Mavs have to make the Heat play a grind-it-out, halfcourt game.
Key matchup: Shawn Marion vs. LeBron James -- All the criticism of James’ clutch failures in the Finals overlooks the fact that Marion’s defense was a major factor, just as it was against Kevin Durant and Kobe Bryant in the previous series. This is the kind of game that could help Marion make a serious case for Defensive Player of the Year consideration. Then again, LeBron got the best of Marion the last time the Heat and Mavs met, scoring 37 points on 11-of-19 shooting in the season-opening blowout.
Injuries: Mavs -- C Brendan Haywood (sprained right ankle) expects to return Friday night vs. Orlando; G Delonte West (fractured right ring finger) is questionable. Heat -- SF LeBron James (dislocated finger) is probable; G/F Mike Miller (sprained ankle) is out.
Up next: Mavs at Orlando Magic, 7 p.m. Friday