Tablet Sports

Rest for Mavericks’ Nowitzki has been in the works for two weeks

The Dallas Mavericks didn’t look at the team they were playing Saturday night and figured this would be a good time to rest Dirk Nowitzki.

And the fact that the Mavericks clobbered Philadelphia by 53 points on Nov. 11 played no role in Dallas resting Nowitzki for Saturday’s rematch against the Sixers at Wells Fargo Center.

At least that’s what the Mavericks are saying.

Coach Rick Carlisle said resting Nowitzki on Saturday has “been on the books for at least a couple of weeks. It wouldn’t matter who we’re playing.

“It’s not because we’re playing a team that’s got a struggling record. It’s about a long-term, big-picture situation, and there will be more of these along the way.”

The Sixers entered Saturday’s game as the only winless team in the NBA at 0-15. Even if the Mavs don’t admit that the Sixers’ record suggests this was the ideal time to rest Nowitzki, the timing is impeccable.

After scoring 23 points in 21 minutes on 8-of-10 shooting against the Los Angeles Lakers on Nov. 21, Nowitzki has been in a slump. The 17-year veteran is 30-of-78 from the field for 38.5 percent over the past four games, including 4-of-27 from 3-point range.

In Friday’s 106-102 triumph over the Toronto Raptors, Nowitzki scored 15 points and was 6-of-19 from the field and 1-of-7 from 3-point range.

Mavericks owner Mark Cuban acknowledged that Nowitzki will receive ample rest from time to time when the situation calls for it. And it will be based on his performance and fatigue factor.

“It’s when he needs it,” Cuban said. “He struggled [Friday] night and the night before. If it’s tired legs or whatever it is, we’re going to have to rest him.”

The San Antonio Spurs have made a history out of resting star players such as Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili whenever possible. However, Cuban said the Spurs have an advantage when it comes to knowing when to rest a player.

“San Antonio has got corporate knowledge,” Cuban said. “They all know how to play the system, and we just haven’t been together long enough to do that. We don’t have the pluggable pieces. Chicago is like that. They’ve got more pluggable pieces.”

Pluggable pieces, according to Cuban, allow teams to rest who,ever they want to rest and not miss a beat. That team’s system, regardless of who’s on the court, will allow the team to continue being successful.

While Nowitzki has been with the Mavs since 1998, the next longest tenure player is center/forward Brandan Wright, who is in his fourth season in Dallas. The Mavericks have nine players on the roster who were playing elsewhere last season.

The Mavericks have sat Nowitzki in past years when they felt fatigue was setting in and making his shots go places he didn’t intend them to go. So having Nowitzki dress in streets clothes is nothing new.

It’s just that the rest usually occurs later in the season, not 17 games in. But, then again, Nowitzki is 36 and this is his 17th season.

“We know it’s the right thing to do,” Carlisle said. “It’s a long season and we just want to keep him as fresh as possible.’’

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