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2011 NBA Finals: Dirk Nowitzki Injury A 'Big Problem' For Dallas?

If ESPN's Tim Legler is right that Dirk Nowitzki's torn tendon in the middle finger of his left hand is a "big problem," then the Dallas Mavericks are in big trouble in the 2011 NBA Finals. Nowitzki tore the tendon during Game 1 Tuesday night, a 92-84 victory by the Miami Heat.

"That's a big problem for Dirk Nowitzki because he actually prefers to go left, particularly when he starts from the middle of the floor at the top of the key," Legler said. "He loves to go left, swing through and go that way for either a step back jumper or to try to get to the rim to finish with that left hand. Both of those things are going to be affected by his inability to squeeze that basketball and get a firm grip on it."

Legler added, "will it affect him to the extinct that he's not an effective player? I don't think so but I don't think he's going to be the same Dirk Nowitski that we've seen throughout the playoffs."

Nowitzki, of course, tried to downplay the injury.

"I guess it will be all right. I have to wear a splint probably for the rest of the playoffs, for a couple of weeks," he said. "But it will be all right. It's on my left hand, so I'll be all right for Thursday."

The Mavs need Nowitzki to be much more than all right if they are going to have a chance in this series, we have seen that much already. They need him to be transcendent. Problem is, can he do that with one hand?