March 26, 2012; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Miami Heat small forward LeBron James (6) shoots the ball against the Indiana Pacers at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. Indiana defeated Miami 105-90. Mandatory credit: Michael Hickey-US PRESSWIRE
The Miami Heat and the Dallas Mavericks will square of Thursday night in a rematch of the 2011 NBA Finals. LeBron James will play despite dislocating the ring finger on his non-shooting hand against the Pacers on Monday.
The Dallas Mavericks and the Miami Heat haven't faced off in Miami since Game 6 of the NBA Finals, which the Mavs won, as you may recall, 105-95 in Miami to secure an NBA Championship. Dallas has yet to return to its title form this season, currently standing in fifth place in the West with a 29-22 record. The Heat, meanwhile, have every intention of taking care of business having gone 35-13 so far this season.
The question still remains in many minds, fair or not, whether the Heat can win the big one, however. The team has struggled somewhat of late against top-tier opponents, losing to the Oklahoma City Thunder, Chicago Bulls and Los Angeles Lakers in the past month. They host Dallas on a mini losing streak, dropping two straight games including a 15-point loss to the Indiana Pacers on Monday.
The Mavericks enter the game on slightly stronger terms, having won their last two straight and six of their last eight games. It hasn't always been pretty, however. Dirk Nowitzki and Jason Terry went 5-for-17 and 5-for-14 from the field, respectively, in a 90-81 win over the Houston Rockets on Tuesday. They will probably need to be much sharper if they hope to keep pace with LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Co.
James dislocated the ring finger on his non-shooting hand against Indiana but is expected to play through the pain, meaning that the team should only be without Mike Miller (ankle). For the Mavericks, Delonte West (finger) and Brandon Haywood (knee) are still questionable. Haywood's could be especially costly, as Ian Mahinmi struggled mightily against the Rockets, picking up four points and four personal fouls in 18 minutes.
For more on the Mavericks, head over to Mavs Moneyball. For more on Miami, please check out Peninsula Is Mightier, SB Nation's Heat blog. For more on this and every other NBA game, please head over to the SB Nation basketball hub page.