Tuesday can’t get here fast enough for Dallas Mavericks forward Dirk Nowitzki.
That’s when the Mavs open the regular season in San Antonio against the Spurs, a team the Mavs took to seven games in the opening round of last season’s playoffs before San Antonio went on to win the franchise’s fifth NBA title.
Nowitzki is expecting another competitive game in the opener as the Mavs roll out new starters Chandler Parsons, Tyson Chandler and Jameer Nelson in a game against their biggest rivals.
“It’s always been fun games down there my whole, basically, 16-year career,” Nowitzki said. “Every game down there has always been special because they’ve been basically good my entire career.”
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Jae Crowder remembers the fun the Spurs had at Dallas’ expense in Game 7 of the first-round series May 4. San Antonio embarrassed the Mavs 119-96.
“I’m excited about the first game,” Crowder said. “This is our first time seeing those guys since we blew Game 7, so it’s a good statement game for us, a good statement for our team to see where we’re at.”
But before playing San Antonio, the Mavs will have to wait for the Spurs to receive their rings for winning last season’s championship. The ring ceremony will occur before the nationally televised game, and Nowitzki has one phrase for that special occasion that he hopes will come to fruition.
“I think it should motivate us, it should motivate this team to reach for high goals,” Nowitzki said. “The thing is, the season is long.
“You can’t win a championship in November. You know you’ve got to work, it’s a process, you’ve got to get better from month to month, you’ve got to get hot at the right time, so hopefully it motivates us to work hard to stay humble and then we’ll have a good team.’’
Mavs waive trio
The Mavs reached the NBA maximum of 15 players Saturday when they waived center Bernard James, guard Doron Lamb and forward Ivan Johnson.
Most of the $915,243 James was slated to make this season is guaranteed.
But the Mavs decided the 3-point shooting Charlie Villanueva displayed in the eight preseason games outweighed what they received from James.
In an Oct. 12 game against Indiana, Villanueva played all 11 of his minutes in the fourth quarter and contributed 16 points and four rebounds during the Mavs’ 106-98 victory.
In that game Villanueva was 6-of-8 shooting from the field, including 4-of-6 from behind the 3-point line.
Even owner Mark Cuban, who repeatedly said he would eat a guaranteed contract if it made his team better, was impressed with what Villanueva accomplished against the Pacers.
“He’s been instant offense,” Cuban said. “When you score 16 points in a quarter on like eight shots, that’s ridiculous. In the NBA anybody can get hot. But that’s who he is.”
Villanueva’s non-guaranteed contract this season is worth $1.3 million.