Nowitzki unfazed by finger injury

By Steve Ginsburg

MIAMI (Reuters) - Dallas forward Dirk Nowitzki said the torn tendon in the middle finger of his left hand would not pose a problem when the Mavericks face the Miami Heat in Game Two of the NBA Finals on Thursday.

Nowitzki, who is right-handed but plays very well with his left, injured the finger Tuesday in the final quarter of the Heat's 92-84 victory.

"I don't think it's going to be necessarily bothering me on the shot," he told reporters during practice on Wednesday.

"Obviously on the shot you only hold the ball with the left hand. It's not like you do anything crazy with it. It's going to be other stuff, dribbling, passing, catching, swiping down, stuff like that.

"It will be okay. I have this splint on for now. We're going to play around with some other stuff. Try tape, or try a splint from the back so I can feel the ball and not lose grip of the ball."

Nowitzki, who scored 27 points and grabbed eight rebounds in the series opener, said he was initially unaware that he had injured himself.

"It was like four minutes to go when (Miami's Chris) Bosh slipped on a screen and roll and came toward me at the basket. I stripped him, I felt, clean," he said.

"I was kind of talking to the referee about the play, and the next thing you know I run on offense after two free throws and I'm looking down and my finger was bent.

"I couldn't straighten it. It was a freakish play. I ran over to the sideline and showed our trainer. He knew right away what happened. We just taped it and went from there."

Heat forward Udonis Haslem, given the job of guarding Nowitzki, a 32-year-old, 10-time All-Star, said the Heat were not expecting the injury to impact on the German's game.

"He still made shots down the stretch," Haslem said. "He dribbled left one time, I went for the shot fake and he was able to make a jumper. He knocked down four free throws down the stretch.

"That won't affect us at all. We're not relying on that to help us out."

But Bosh said the injury might hurt Nowitzki because "he uses his left hand a lot."

"He can use both hands but he's really good with his left," he said. "But we're going to assume he's 100 percent. We're going to have to play solid defense and just take the challenge as if he's feeling great."

Nowitzki said he did not think Miami's players would target his injured finger.

"Once the game starts, the adrenaline starts flowing, I don't think it will really slow me down much," he said.

"I'm really more worried about ball handling with the left and finishing on some lay-ups with the left than about them swiping down, going for my finger.

"It didn't get as sore as I was anticipating last night. It should be all right."

(Editing by Julian Linden)