The Miami Heat welcome a familiar foe to South Beach on Friday, as the Dallas Mavericks, their opponent in the 2011 NBA Finals and the last team they've lost a playoff series to, comes to town (7:30 p.m. ET). To prepare for the game, our Heat Index team discusses the Mavs in the Dirk era, Michael Beasley's role in Miami, and Dwyane Wade's status for an upcoming back-to-back.
1. Fact or Fiction: The Mavs have failed to capitalize on Nowitzki's prime.
Tom Haberstroh: Fiction. The goal is to win a title and the Mavs did that. If we’re talking the post-title years, I’d go with fact. They haven’t won a playoff game since topping the Heat, so I don’t think you’d hear differently from the Mavericks, either.
Michael Wallace: Fiction. Two trips to the NBA Finals and one championship are far more than many elite players have accomplished. But Dirk does have two blemishes on the resume: that meltdown against Miami in the 2006 Finals and the first-round blunder against Golden State during his MVP season. Dallas never really gave him roster continuity, but he gave them a Hall of Fame career.
Brian Windhorst: Fiction. They won a title. The past few years, when Mark Cuban thought he was out-thinking the rest of the league, have been disappointing, but Drik has broken down a bit with knee injuries. They were a contender for nearly a decade, made two Finals and brought home a ring during Dirk's prime. If they ever feel down, they can just look up at the banner.
2. Fact or Fiction: Beasley should be in the rotation no matter what.
Haberstroh: Fiction. It’s been three games. He’s certainly earned more playing time by showing effort and focus on the defensive end. But I’m not ready to say he should earn minutes over Shane Battier and Udonis Haslem.
Wallace: Fiction. Erik Spoelstra, though he hasn’t said it, doesn’t think Beasley has proven enough yet to beat out Udonis Haslem or Shane Battier. The recent offensive outbursts are promising, and Beasley is gaining confidence from his teammates. But he's still a 10th man, at best, right now and the first 10 guys are still available.
Windhorst: Fact. He's one of the most talented players on the team and his ability to score makes the Heat all that more dangerous. They are already playing at an extremely high level offensively, and having him in their back pocket is some weapon. And if he's going to go through issues defensively or go off the reservation with the game plan, you might as well figure that out earlier than later.
3. Fact or Fiction: D-Wade should play in this back-to-back set.
Haberstroh: Fiction. I’m firmly in the belief that Erik Spoelstra should be proactive with the minute management. Wade needs to be ready for June, not November.
Wallace: Fact. Considering the team's inconsistent performances on defense, and the recent challenges to get a healthy unit together thus far, Wade should be a go for Saturday's game in Charlotte if his knees are good. The Heat then have two days off. Wade probably won't run the back-to-back table in the coming days, with another set coming Tuesday and Wednesday. But unless he's hampered, try playing in three of four.
Windhorst: Fiction. Wade's pride is what it is -- he wants to play every night and everyone knows this. Everyone knows he's tough. But I see no reason to do anything to put wear on Wade's knees before the playoffs. His health is probably the single most important thing for this team and we've seen him wear down two years in a row. Every decision with him should keep that in mind.