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May 31, 3:00 PM ET
Mavs with Jeff Caplan

Jeff Caplan
  (2:59 PM)

Welcome back everyone. Big night coming up with Game 1 Mavs vs. Heat. Let's get right to it.

Jaime (Mexico)

Hi Jeff, I'm so excited for tonight's game. I know Nowitzki is unstoppable, but today I looked at some stuff that worried me he averages 3.2 TO per game in the playoffs, isn't that too high for him and also knowing that he will be doubled-team so often?

Jeff Caplan
  (3:01 PM)

Jaime, Dirk has been prone to some turnovers, mostly when he's been double-teamed.He had 7 in one game vs. OKC and remember how many times Nick Collison tied him up and forced a TO or a jump ball. Dirk will have to be careful. Miami is a far superior defensive team and they will turn turnovers into fastbreak dunks.

Matt (Plano,TX)

Which players are going to be responsible for guarding Dirk? Terry?

Jeff Caplan
  (3:03 PM)

Matt, Dirk is going to see a revolving door of defenders, just as Dwyane Wade and LeBron will from the Mavs. I'd expect Chris Bosh to start out on Dirk, or if Miami doesn't want him that tied up on the defensive end, you could see 6-9 center Joel Anthony give it a go. But, expect Udonis Haslem to come off the bench and play Dirk the most physically of the bunch. As for Terry, he's going to get his fair share of Dwyane Wade.

James (DFW)

Hey Jeff, I know that Stevenson is going to get some time guarding Wade who he's done great on, something like 2 points in 30 minutes. So how long does Stevenson play? Does it affect JET's playing time?

Jeff Caplan
  (3:05 PM)

Actually James, those numbers belong to LeBron with Stevenson on the floor. I do think Stevenson will continue to get good minutes. He went from 13 a game in the first two series to 20+ in the West Finals. I expect that to stay the same considering the defensive assignments. Against OKC, Carlisle turned to a 3-guard lineup of Kidd, Terry and DeShawn, so you might see that again. They need Terry's offense on the floor.

Kisha(VI) [via mobile]

Do you think the Mavs bench will give the Heat a hard time?

Jeff Caplan
  (3:06 PM)

Kisha, absolutely. The Mavs are an excellent ball movement team and they are going to have to be at their passing best against the Heat defense, and they'll have to hit their 3s. But, yes, no reason to believe the Mavs can't give the Heat a whale of a series. It should be fun.

Adam (Ft. Worth)

Barea has been amazing this post season, but this matchup seems bad for him. I would think Bibby is the only player in the Heats rotation you would feel ok playing him in a man coverage against. Do his minutes get limited because of this? or will the Mavs go zone and hope everyone does not shoot over JJ?

Jeff Caplan
  (3:08 PM)

Bibby or Mario Chalmers. Look, obviously it's tough for JJ defensively, but he'll give it right back at Miami with his penetrations. There's talk that LeBron could take him a la Derrick Rose to try and keep him out of the paint.

Zook (Los Angeles)

I feel like OKC was a good warm up for this series. OKC has two dynamic wings (though Miami's are better) that we had to deal with. Does adding in a dominant post player like Bosh completely change the style of play for us?

Jeff Caplan
  (3:10 PM)

Zook, I don't believe anything will change the style the Mavs want to play. But, Bosh is a load unto himself. We talk so much about the two superstars that we forget that Bosh is averaging 18+ points and nearly 9 rebounds in the playoffs. He can go off and the Mavs have to account for him. Tyson Chandler will get a first crack at him to keep Dirk from having to work that hard defensively. But, look, Bosh is an All-Star,he's going to be a hard cover and Chandler has to be wary of foul trouble because this is not a good matchup situation for Brendan Haywood.

Wilmer (Puerto Rico)

Hi, Jeff, a lot of people are buying the argument that Miami in the end will win because they have three out of the four best players in the series. How would you counter that? GO MAVSS

Jeff Caplan
  (3:12 PM)

Wilmer, well the only counter is that the Mavs are deep and can rely on their bench for an offensive boost. They've got to get excellent shooting from Jason Terry and it wouldn't hurt for Peja Stojakovic to knock down a few more shots than he has of late. JJ Barea can also be a big factor with his penetration. The Heat have the superstars, but the Mavs win with a team concept that is at its peak right now.

Mavs Fan (Saginaw)

Hi Jeff, do you believe that Dwanye Wade is 100%?

Jeff Caplan
  (3:13 PM)

Well Mavs fan,if you ask guys this time of year, nobody will say they are 100 percent. Wade has said he's fine. People are looking at his decreased production but remember the Heat just played an tremendous defensive club in Chicago, a team that held the Mavs in the 80s twice. So, while Wade's scoring might have gone down, LeBron took charge. I'd expect a hard-driving Wade in this series.

George (Merika)

Worst outcome for Stern, his arch-rival Mark Cuban wins his first title or he allows the Miami Heat to buy the title?

Jeff Caplan
  (3:15 PM)

George, OK kind of funny. But, Stern didn't allow the Heat to buy a title. The Heat worked within the rules of the salary cap, created space and attracted two top free agents who were free to sign wherever they so chose. Had LeBron forced the Cavs to do a sign and trade with the Mavs, I doubt you would be saying Stern allowed Dallas to buy a title.

DC (MO)

I couldn't help but notice Caron playing one on one against Corey B during ESPN's shoot around report. I know Caron won't play heavy minutes if at all, but with his teammates asking to have him in the lay-up line and active, do you think the Mavs would do this during a home game to get a major emotional boost from the crowd's reaction?

Jeff Caplan
  (3:17 PM)

DC, maybe. I find it hard to believe that Rick Carlisle would take a player off the bench just to let Caron fill some sort of ceremonial spot in the lineup. You never what might happen during the course of a game and Corey Brewer, Ian Mahinmi and/or Brian Cardinal might be needed. If one wasn't available with Caron active but unable to play, that would be a tough pill to swallow.

Brent (Dallas)

Heat have 3 of 4 best player in this series, but Mavs have better starting PF, C and PG, and bench, is that not enough to give them a chance? Can't find many analysts picked a Mavs upset.

Jeff Caplan
  (3:18 PM)

Brent, it's going to have to be enough if the Mavs are going to win the series. Those are key strengths. Is it good enough to beat three stars like the Heat have? We'll find out. The player I think puts Miami over the top is Udonis Haslem. He does for Miami what Tyson Chandler does for the Mavs. He fires them up, he keeps them fired up and he does whatever necessary to get the job done. His return was huge for the Heat.

Bobby (Dallas)

Knowing how strong Jason Kidd is and the length and athleticism that can occasionally give Wade fits, do you see a scenario where Marion and possibly Brewer see a lot of Wade and LeBron will get covered by Kidd and Stevenson for a lot of the night?

Jeff Caplan
  (3:20 PM)

I think I understand your question, but I wouldn't count on seeing a lot of Corey Brewer unless the Mavs need an emergency jump start much like in Game 1 at L.A. I just don't see Carlisle throwing him as part of the rotation in this situation. He'll give DeShawn Stevenson, Jason Kidd and Shawn Marion the responsibility of those two and see what happens.

Kevin (DFW)

How do you see tonight's game played out?

Jeff Caplan
  (3:22 PM)

Kevin, you know what, I have no idea. I think initially you might see a bit of a sloppy start as both teams try to feel each other out. Remember, these teams haven't seen each other since December and the players are different. So, look for a feeling-out period. The most interesting thing is that these are two of the best closing teams. Both showed great poise and execution in coming back late in games.

Anish (Dallas)

I know this question gets asked everytime, but what is the status on Caron Butler for the finals maybe?

Jeff Caplan
  (3:23 PM)

If you've read espndallas.com you know that Rick Carlisle has not closed the door on Butler playing but calls it highly unlikely. Look, at this point it would be very difficult to see Butler jumping into this series and being asked to guard LeBron James, which he would have to do.

Shane (CA)

Please point out that the Mavs have a $90 million payroll, good for top 3 in $ paid to players. Miami is well below the luxury tax. Who is buying a championship then?

Jeff Caplan
  (3:24 PM)

Shane,that's a great point.Mavs have been way up there for years and years. It should also be pointed out that while everyone says Miami is buying a title,the fact is that LeBron, Wade and Bosh all took less money to play together than they could have received elsewhere and then they all agreed to give up more money so the team could re-sign Udonis Haslem.

Adam (Los Angeles)

Outside of Mike Miller, who should the Mavs avoid rotating away from on the perimeter?

Jeff Caplan
  (3:26 PM)

Adam,honestly,the Heat are just a poor 3-point shooting team. I wouldn't even necessarily mind leaving Miller until he shows he can hit a 3. He's got 4 in the playoffs. James Jones is their best 3-point shooter but he's been taken out of the rotation. LeBron leads the team with 21 3s and he's been deadly late in games.

Adam (Los Angeles)

Can the Mavs 'hide' a small guard on Mike Miller? He doesn't seem to be the type that scares me with his back to the basket or when creating his own shot.

Jeff Caplan
  (3:27 PM)

Adam, yeah, I think you can, maybe Terry because Miller is not shooting well.

Josh (Knoxville, TN)

According to the article by Haberstroh and Arnovitz... "The NBA's Stats Cube tells us that Wade scored only a single field goal during the 30 minutes he shared the floor with Stevenson this season." It is Marion who has been effective against LeBron... "Over the past two seasons, James is shooting just 5-for-20 against The Matrix, with three turnovers."

Jeff Caplan
  (3:28 PM)

yeah, but those are James'numbers with Stevenson on the floor. It doesn't necessarily mean that Stevenson was guarding LeBron during that time. But, it is interesting.

Jeff (Lewisville)

Can Dallas keep thier turnovers down in order to keep Miami from running? TOs and FG% are going to be a big factor this series.

Jeff Caplan
  (3:30 PM)

Jeff, absolutely correct. The Mavs will have to keep their turnovers down or they will see Heat flashes (pun intended)...Dallas has not seen defense like the Heat play. The Lakers didn't guard anyone, OKC was pretty good at times, but not nearly as disciplined as Miami.

Anish (Dallas)

Are we going to see Roddy at all this series? Or is he pretty much done for the rest of the season?

Jeff Caplan
  (3:31 PM)

Anish, I would be stunned if you see Roddy. Check out the Mavs blog @espndallas.com for a Roddy update I did yesterday.

KC (Dallas, TX)

In 2007, when Golden State eliminated the Mavs, some Warriors said that a few Spurs thanked them for eliminating the Mavs. History has it hat the Spurs went ahead to win the trophy by sweeping Lebron James. Should the Mavs send a thank you note to the Griziles this year? Go Mavs!

Jeff Caplan
  (3:33 PM)

KC, maybe, but I think the Mavs believe they could beat the Spurs this year in part because of their size advantage inside and the fact that the Spurs relied so heavily on the 3-point shot. The Mavs have been very good defending the perimeter. Both Kobe and Durant finished those series shooting the 3 in the 20-percent range and Dallas is giving up the 3-ball at 26-percent clip, pretty darn good.

Joe Gibson (Kansas City, MO.)

Did Randy Galloway really predict a four-game sweep in favor of the Heat? Seems a bit shortsighted.

Jeff Caplan
  (3:34 PM)

Ha! The old man was doing in jest like reverse psychology since the Mavs kept proving him wrong in the earlier rounds.

Javier (Puerto Rico)

Will the Mavs be able to retain JJ Barea or is there going to be too much money for him in other teams? GO Mavs

Jeff Caplan
  (3:36 PM)

Javier, excellent question. JJ is making himself into quite a hot commodity. The new CBA will have a say in this so it's hard to say right now what will happen. The Mavs will have a tough choice to make if another team offers him a hefty raise. JJ has proved himself a valuable commodity and Roddy Beaubois can no longer be looked at as a sure thing, especially as a backup point guard.

Jeff Caplan
  (3:37 PM)

OK, folks, thanks for all your questions. Should be a great game tonight and a great series. We'll reconvene here next week as we prepare for Game 4.For all your NBA Finals coverage needs, this is the place, espndallas.com. Tell a friend.