FOREWARD: For the first time since 2006 the Dallas Mavericks are back home to host the Finals. Game 3 arrives Sunday night, but before they can get to the game, they had to get through practice ... and a continuing wave of media. Here's a DB.com Premium Peek at practice from the catbird seat ...
THE BIG NEWS? BIG WOOD: When we poked inside the (mostly) closed Dallas Mavericks practice session down in the AAC basement and we also noticed there was Big Wood ...
Riding the stationary bike. We caught up with him moments later for a DB.com Video Visit:
So, coach Rick Carlisle ... what if?
"We'll have Mahinmi ready," Rick said, "or we can do some things with smaller lineups."
In other words: "Be Ready.''
Big Wood, who also worked in the therapy pool on Saturday, says the strained right hip flexor really acted up when he tried to hustle on offense during a G2 fast break.
And trying to break into a full-speed sprint again is now a concern.
"Like if LeBron took off and I was trying to catch him -- which might be hard to do anyway,'' Big Wood joked.
DIRK'S FINE FINGER:
On the other injury front, there is the torn-tendon-finger thing with Dirk Nowitzki.
"The finger is really good," Dirk said Saturday. "Once the adrenaline always starts flowing during the game, I think I'm OK. It doesn't bother me during the game. That's the major thing."
OK. That's the end of that.
SHAWN VS. LeBRON: "There's no one guy that can guard me." - LeBron on Saturday.
"I've always been a defensive stopper.'' - 'Trix on Saturday.
Some general 'Trix first. ...
Ignoring the fact that in Game 2, Marion scored the same 20 points that James did, LeBron spent part of his Saturday defending his excellence and touting his superiority.
"I think Shawn Marion has done a great job," James said. "Especially offensively. He's picked up his game offensively. Hanging around the rim, getting some lay-ups, getting some tip-backs, playing around the rim. His activity throughout the first two games has been pretty good."
Yes, yes. But what about when he's guarding you, LeBron?
"I don't feel like it's one guy in this league that can stop me one-on-one," James said. "He's the guy that's guarding me, but there's no one guy that can guard me."
But Shawn, you DO guard him pretty well ... don't you?
"I've been doing (defense) my whole career," Marion said. "If you go back and look at my whole career, I've done it -- point guards all the way to big men. It's just another day at work."
And then 'Trix turned defender ... of himself.
"I've always been a defensive stopper," Marion said. "I've always played defense. I had to go from playing the 3 to playing power forward. Name me players in this league who can do that. 6-foot-7, 225 pounds. Nobody can do that probably in the next generation coming. I've always prided myself on playing both ends of the floor. I'm a competitor."
The competition continues Sunday.
FISH AND JJB JITTERS: We talk strategy and "jitters'' in this exclusive Video Visit with Barea:
CARLISLE STRATEGY NUGGET: We've discussed at length how Miami goofed defensively on Dirk on the final seconds of Game 2. But what about moments before, when Dirk hit the big 3 off a Chandler screen?
A reader tipped us off to this idea and we doubled-checked with team sources today: Remember when Jet said seeing LeBron guarding him was a G1 surprise and that Dallas had made the needed adjustments going into G2?
Here's what Carlisle did in order to keep LeBron from getting involved in ruining Dallas' screen-and-roll game involving Jet and Dirk ... what Carlisle did so LeBron didn't end up guarding Dirk:
On that play, Dirk isn't the screener. Chandler is.
See the beauty? LeBron's not going to switch to TY, so LeBron stays with Jet (negating him, a sacrifice made by Dallas). Meanwhile, Bosh isn't going to roam outside to stay tight on TY. Why? TY's not a pick-and-pop threat, so why bother?
So Terry is negating LeBron. TY is free to roam. And where does he roam? to screen Dirk's man, a second perimeter screen from Chandler that the Heat never saw coming.
Nowitzki hits the 3, and the idea of "LeBron on Dirk'' isn't allowed to happen because Carlisle didn't let it happen.
CELEBRATION STATION: LeBron still doesn't get it.
"(Jason Terry) hits a 3 and they make a big run, if he runs down the court doing the whole wings expanded, do we count that as a celebration as well?" James said. "I just think everything gets blown out of proportion when the Miami Heat does things."
Yes, LeBron. Jet's "wings-expanded'' counts as "celebration.'' And if it inspired his opponent to mount an all-time great comeback in an NBA Finals game?
It counts as inspiringly stupid, too.
TY ON TV: TY's meetings with the media ...
MAVSELLANEOUS: We hung out with Roddy B for a moment and noticed that he's suddenly sprouted a "playoff beard.'' Kinda. "Hey,'' Roddy B told us, stroking his soft little whiskers, "If you got it, you got it!'' ... Maybe it's only us, but does it feel like weeks are passing between Games 2 and 3? The Mavs may need the rest, but can our Mavs' hearts take the wait? ... The local media seems to be in some sort of competition over Jason Terry's right wrist. We know he banged it on the floor when he was hard-fouled while airbone in Game 1. We know it was taped today. But he's says it's a bruise and it'snothing - except when he sleeps on it wrong. ...Special thanks to Beau Shoulders and Kevin Brolan of the DB.com staff for their tireless contributions around here ... ... Let's let Kidd talk BBIQ, OK? We're working to bring you some Kidd Vid coming up!
QUOTEBOARD: Moving on to the tone of the players themselves. ...
When interacting or observing the Mavs, you quickly get the feeling that this is a team that understands their current position. At least in their words, nothing is being taken for granted, and Game 2 … as impressive as the comeback was … is not being viewed as a finished product, only as a step along the way.
"We're looking at Game 3," said Jason Terry. "That's the only thing on our mind right now."
What say you, Dirk Nowitzki?
"We're a veteran team, and we did a good job so far in these playoffs to kind of stay in the moment. You know, we had some big wins and kind of still recovered and came back and played a great game the next game."
BROTHERLY LOVE: Dirk and Jet were asked Saturday to characterize their relationship.
"It's a brotherly relationship,'' Jet said. "Obviously, our chemistry on the court while we're playing is tremendous. It's what fuels this team, and then off the court, it's genuine. We're always honest and upfront with each other, and that's why I say it's like a brotherhood.''
"Yes,'' Dirk said, grinning and almost confirming Jet's analysis. "We have a kind of love-hate relationship ... We love each other, but we also argue a lot."
SCENE-SETTER: In an area of the AAC basement that generally feels more like the open space of a stocking warehouse, accustomed to people doing little more than passing through or pregame practice sessions from the Mavs Dancers, a metamorphosis had taken place.
Four podiums were setup at each point of a crude "+" sign, each with the familiar blue backdrop adorned with a pattern of the NBA Finals' logos, for players to address the media.
Oh, and with a glance inside the arena, your first look at the Finals banners ...
Nearby in the hall, another backdrop hung before a single camera, and further down sit the standard interview rooms where pre-and post-game press conferences are held. This imbued much more of a card-collector convention feel than that of an NBA practice.
The first four Mavs to the podiums were Tyson Chandler, Jason Kidd, JJ Barea and Shawn Marion. (Kidd, Dirk and Rick did their business in the "big'' interview room.)
Speaking of Kidd ...
But whether you're a reporter who's been doing this for 27 years (Fish) or a pup getting accustomed to it all (MDug and Brolan) ... it all feels pretty "big.''
THE FINAL WORD: We'll give it to Rick, and Dirk, and we want you to listen to The UberMan utter (again) the words "stay in the moment.''
"Stay in the moment.'' Rick has preached that so often that it's now something Dirk says, and thinks, through force of habit.
That's not the same as pick-and-roll alterations. But that, too, is coaching.