Why is it always the same guy who gives Dirk Nowitzki
You know the one. He’ s usually about 6-8 and plays
with a physical edge and knows how to dip a shoulder or an elbow into Nowitzki’s
side or gut just enough to knock him off of the places on the court where he is
impossible to stop.
You know the guys. Bruce Bowen. David West. James Posey. And
now Udonis Haslem, again.
Haslem has been on Dirk before. He was responsible for a lot
of defense against the Mavericks’ star in the 2006 Finals. Now, he’s
back and doing another decent job, although Nowitzki is so focused and so good
right now, stopping him is impossible.
Just forcing him to shoot tough shots is all anybody can
hope for. And he still makes a lot of those as he did in Game 3 with 34 points
on 11-of-21 shooting.
But we can’t help but wonder who the best defenders
against Nowitzki are, both past and present. Here’s a sampling of tough
guys who give him problems, although they are in no particular order.
Luol Deng, Bulls: Long and lean, he’s smart enough not
to jump for the pump fakes and fast enough to stay in front of him.
Bruce Bowen, Spurs (retired): We know too well about the way
he liked to slide under Dirk as soon as he rose up for a jump shot.
Udonis Haslem, Heat: If he gets any closer to Nowitzki when
he’s making moves, he might have to buy an engagement ring.
Carl Landry, Hornets: The guy had his fake teeth stuck in
Nowitzki’s elbow one time. That’s the sign of a guy who isn’t
afraid to defend.
James Posey, Pacers: He’s been one of those wily
defenders who you never seem to be able to shake off.
David West, Hornets: Who can forget his little love tap to
Dirk a few years back. This guy always played him tough.
Stephen Jackson, Warriors: He was the instigator behind the “punk
Dirk’’ style of defending him, which doesn’t work much
Kevin Garnett, Celtics: The biggest of the bunch, he also
has the quickness to make his length a serious hurdle for Dirk to overcome.