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Monday, May 30, 2011
Udonis Haslem: '06 Finals helped Dirk develop

By Tim MacMahon


MIAMI -- Udonis Haslem won’t waste any time watching film of his phenomenal defensive effort against Dirk Nowitzki in the 2006 Finals.

The development of Dirk’s game has rendered Haslem’s approach in that series irrelevant, according to the Heat power forward.

“If anything, that ’06 Finals helped him,” said Haslem, who allowed Nowitzki to make only 13-of-42 shots while defending him in that series. “Right now, his game offensively is pretty much impeccable. I think he does it all now. He puts the ball on the floor. In ’06, he didn’t put it on the floor as well. He’s posting more. In ’06, he didn’t post as much. Obviously, he’s 90-plus percent from the free throw line.

“Right now, offensively, he’s arguably the best player in the [NBA].”

The keys to Haslem’s defense on Dirk five years ago were physical play and forcing him to make plays off the dribble. However, Haslem doesn’t believe those are weaknesses he can expose anymore.

“He’s improved his game,” Haslem said. “He’s proven that he can put it on the floor. He’s proven that he can play through contact. I don’t think those things are going to help now.”