Dallas Mavericks

Dallas Mavericks center Nerlens Noel will play against Washington

Nerlens Noel will be back on the court tonight at 7 when the Dallas Mavericks face the Washington Wizards at the Verizon Center.

Noel missed the Mavericks’ past three games with soreness in his left knee. The Mavericks (28-38) defeated Brooklyn (105-96) without him, but dropped the past two games to Phoenix (100-98) and Toronto (100-78) with the center on the sidelines.

Meanwhile, guard Wesley Matthews is listed as a game-time decision.

“I’m not as optimistic (about him playing), but we’ll see,” coach Rick Carlisle. “Nothing has been determined yet. He’s moving around pretty good, we wanted him to go through stuff today, but I’m not sure yet.”

Noel figured he could have come back earlier, but wanted to be sure there were no missteps.

“I think I’m good now,’’ Noel said after Wednesday morning’s shootaround. “I’m definitely smart about it.

“We took the precautions to get it right and now, I’m feeling great, so we get right back to work.’’

Noel, who had some swelling in his knee and has had issues with the same knee in the past, doesn’t think this is something that will re-occur.

“I’m not worried at all,’’ he said. “At this point you stay precautionary, you be smart, you don’t put yourself in any situations that aren’t going to help you.

“It flared up a little bit, so I wasn’t able to play the way I wanted to. So I took a step back and waited for it to heal up.’’

In the six games he’s played with the Mavericks since arriving via a trade with Philadelphia on Feb. 23, Noel has averaged 10 points, 8.7 rebounds and 1.3 blocks in 24.2 minutes per contest.

“Offensively, he’s a real rim threat as a lob guy, he’s a great roller to the basket,’’ Carlisle said. “His activity around the basket is excellent, he gets his hands on a lot of balls.

“The one game we started him against Memphis he put up huge numbers (with 15 points and a career-high tying 17 boards). He’s a great runner, but right now we’re just hoping to get him through this little knee thing -- which we don’t think is going to be a long-term issue – and get him back out there.’’

Noel believes the Mavericks missed his energy in the three games he was sidelined, especially during the losses to Phoenix and Toronto.

“In a lot of different aspects with the rebounds defensively, and offensively as well with the pick-and-roll,’’ he said. “Trying to get easier looks for a more fluid offense with the pick-and-roll attacks making the defense shift a little more.

“I think that’s something I’ve got to bring back tonight at a high level to get this team back in the ‘W’ column and pick back up the momentum.’’

Noel said he was frustrated watching his team play without him in the past three games.

“It’s definitely a frustration level, especially on the little things that I do to change a game that I can’t obviously not playing,’’ he said. “It’s something that I make sure I build up in my mind to make sure that I’m attacking (the rim) when I do come back when I’m trying to get back to the basics and help this team win some games.”

Dwain Price: 817-390-7760, @dwainprice

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