Dallas Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle said it looks like guard Devin Harris will make his 2016-’17 season debut tonight at 7:30 when his team faces the San Antonio Spurs at American Airlines Center.
Meanwhile, near the end of his talk with the media following this morning’s shootaround, Carlisle said forward Dirk Nowitzki will miss at least the next three games as he continues to deal with a strained right Achilles. After Tuesday’s practice, Carlisle said Nowitzki would miss at least the next two games.
In the meantime, Harris hasn’t played since spraining his right great toe in the Oct. 21 preseason finale at Denver.
"He’s done well over the last two-and-a-half weeks as he’s increased his activity, so he will play some tonight if all goes well,’’ Carlisle said. "He’s one of our top seven players, so when you don’t have a guy like that who brings a certain element to the recipe it makes it harder.
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"But in his absence other guys have gotten experience and gotten better. It’s been tough to win games, but having him back tonight will help.’’
Harris said he beat the odds, since when he was first diagnosed, the worst was feared.
"They said surgery (and) I avoided that,’’ Harris said. "The original time limit was three months -- I made it back in five weeks.
"Three months is a long time, but we avoided that. I’m glad to be here, just excited to make it back in a short amount of time.’’
The Mavs truly miss the quickness, aggressiveness and lane penetration Harris supplies them with. His performance has often led to easy opportunity baskets.
"He’s one of our best paint attackers, he’s one of our best vertical attackers to the rim,’’ Carlisle said. "He’s a guy that can get us to the free throw line a little bit more and can get the ball into the paint a little bit more.’’
On the defensive end, Harris has a penchant for drawing offensive fouls.
"A lot of energy, a lot of tenacity,’’ Carlisle said, when asked what contributions Harris provides on defense. "He’s one of our top on the ball defenders without question, and so it’s important to get a guy like that back into the rotation.
"But we have to bring this along at the right pace. We don’t want to get into a yo-yoing deal, so we’ll be very cautious.’’
In other words, Harris will be on a minutes restriction until the Mavs feel he can go full bore.
"He’s going to be limited minutes-wise,’’ Carlisle said. "I don’t know what the number is, but he won’t play a full game.
"But the important thing is to start working him back in.’’
The Mavs have gotten off to a sluggish 3-13 start. It’s a record that’s been difficult for Harris to stomach while sitting on the bench in street clothes.
"It’s been real tough to watch,’’ Harris said. "I’ll just get back and just do what I can.
"The way we started out, obviously knowing I feel like I can help. It’s been awhile since I’ve been in a real game.’’
But he’ll be in one tonight.