The last time Dallas Mavericks’ fans saw Dirk Nowitzki, he was finishing up a 27-minute, 15-point night against the world champion Cleveland Cavaliers back on Nov. 25.
Since then, the Mavs have played 14 games. And Nowitzki – the franchise’s top player – has missed all 14 of those games,
Nowitzki, however, will play tonight when the Mavs face the Los Angeles Clippers on the road at the Staples Center. The 13-time All-Star’s return should be a huge lift for the Mavs, who are 8-21 and tied with Phenix for last place in the Western Conference.
Injuries have played a major role in the Mavs’ subpar record. Especially the strained right Achilles suffered by Nowitzki, who has played in just five games this season after averaging a team-high 18.3 points last season.
Nowitzki will be on a minute’s restriction. But just his appearance should create open looks for whoever is on the court with him.
Nowitzki played opening day against the Indiana Pacers, sat out two games, played two more contests, sat out eight games, and then played two more before he and the Mavs decided he needed to sit for an extended period and get his Achilles under control. Now, the Mavs hope they’ve gotten to the bottom of what ailed Nowitzki, who averages 12.2 points and 6.4 rebounds in 26.2 minutes per game this season.