Following the Dallas Mavericks loss to the Miami Heat in Game 1 of the NBA Finals, we learned Dirk Nowitzki had sustained torn tendons in his left middle finger. We know Nowitzki will wear a splint on his injured finger, but will be fine to play in Game 2. What we don't know is how the injury will affect him, or if it will at all. If there's good news for Dallas fans, it's that the torn tendons are in the middle finger of his non-shooting hand, lessening the blow and, perhaps, the pain involved.
Nowitzki himself downplayed the injury on Tuesday night, saying he'll be ready to go on Thursday and doesn't think it will affect his game.
"I thought I stripped him clean, then I kind of looked down and I couldn't straighten my finger out anymore," said Nowitzki, who had 27 points on 7-of-18 shooting as the Mavs fell behind in a series for the first time this postseason. "So I tore a tendon in there. I guess it will be all right. I have to wear a splint probably the rest of the playoffs."
His left hand is his guide hand, and while the injury and split used to protect it may be uncomfortable, this may not be the death blow for the Mavericks. Nowitzki's shot should be fine, though the splint may take some getting used to in the days leading up to Game 2.
However, the trouble for Nowitzki may not be in the act of shooting, but rather setting up his shot. With the split, dribbling could become more difficult, and any attempt by the Heat to swipe the ball could result in immediate pain, should they hit his injured finger.
We're flying blind ahead of Game 2, with no real indication as to how Nowitzki's injury may affect the Mavericks and his own game. If he can handle the pain and get used to the splint on his left hand, Dallas may be fine. If the injury worsens -- and it may overnight -- the Mavericks face an uphill battle over the rest of the series as they face a Miami team that already looks poised to bring home the title.