As the Dallas Mavericks get healthier and healthier, they truly expect the wins to start stacking up.
And they also truly expect to qualify for the playoffs again, despite where they currently reside in the Western Conference standings.
Dirk Nowitzki, the Mavericks’ franchise player, has played in just nine of the team’s 34 games this season due to a strained right Achilles. Nowitzki has played in four of the past five games after missing 14 consecutive contests while dealing with his injury.
Also, Nowitzki played both halves of last Friday’s 108-99 loss to the Golden State Warriors. It marked the first time Nowitzki had played both halves in a game since his injury interrupted his season when he sat out the Nov. 27 game against New Orleans.
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“He’s done well,’’ coach Rick Carlisle said of Nowitzki. “He continues to make progress, so it’s all a positive step in the right direction.’’
The Mavericks (10-24) will still be without guard J. J. Barea (left leg muscle strain) when they host the Washington Wizards (16-17) Monday night at 7:30 at American Airlines Center. Barea, who has played in only 11 games this season, has missed 22 of the past 24 games, and the Mavericks miss his shooting, defense and sheer ability to attack the basket.
“We’ll see where we are next week,’’ Carlisle said of Barea. “But at this point I just don’t see (him playing) this week.’’
Center Andrew Bogut, who has missed 12 of the past 14 games with a knee injury, played 22 minutes last Thursday against the Los Angeles Lakers.
“I don’t know that there’s a limit on his minutes,’’ Carlisle said of Bogut after this morning’s shootaround. “We got him over 20 (minutes) in the Laker game -- he played extremely well.
“We shut him down halfway through the third.’’
Bogut, however, didn’t play in last Friday’s game at Golden State, but will be in the lineup against the Wizards.
“I’ve got to believe if all is going well that he could get into the 20s again,’’ Carlisle said. “He should be somewhere in the mid- to high-20s if healthy and everything else is looking good.’’
By Dec. 31, the Mavericks played 19 road games. Only the Los Angeles Lakers and Boston Celtics, who each played 20 road games, played more games away from home.
Thus, the Mavericks believe with a healthy roster and a home-friendlier schedule, they should be able to put everything together and quality for the playoffs for the 16th time in the last 17 years.
Carlisle said: “The more guys get healthier, the better.’’