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Tuesday, April 20, 2010
Dirk: Don't let intensity become stupidity

By Tim MacMahon

DALLAS -- Kevin Garnett's suspension for Game 2 of the Celtics-Heat series served as a valuable reminder for the rest of the league.

"You want to play physical and want to set the tone," Dirk Nowitzki said, "but you don’t want to do anything stupid."

There can be a fine line between playoff intensity and stupidity, especially in a series with a heated history, such as Mavs-Spurs.

Dirk goes by some pretty simple rules: Don't flail your arms, be careful following through on hard fouls and keep all contact below the neck.

Nowitzki got mixed up with San Antonio's Matt Bonner in Game 1, when Dirk thought Bonner was pushing him in the back. But that situation didn't escalate beyond a quick exchange of words, with both guys letting the other know they weren't going to give up an inch.

Jason Terry clearly crossed the line -- and violated man code -- with his below-the-belt jab at Michael Finley's family jewels during the 2006 Western Conference semifinals. The Mavs won the series despite Terry's Game 6 suspension, but that's the kind of incident that can kill a playoff run.

"A suspension can be tough during the playoffs," Nowitzki said. "It can really change the momentum of a series. You want to play hard and you want to play physical, but you’ve got to be smart, too."