Dallas Mavericks

Nowitzki plans to play against the Hawks

Mavs forward Dirk Nowitzki plans to play in his first preseason game Friday night at home against Atlanta.
Mavs forward Dirk Nowitzki plans to play in his first preseason game Friday night at home against Atlanta. AP

DALLAS – The worst thing about all five starters for the Dallas Mavericks missing the first three preseason games is that no one has an honest feel on what to expect from this team this season.

Playing together gives a team a chance to peel back the layers and work through the problems. But when the problems don’t overtly exist because the players have been unable to play due to health and rest issues, that’s a monumental challenge of epic proportions.

"It’s a little disappointing,’’ power forward Dirk Nowitzki said. "Obviously we’d love to see what this team looks like when everybody’s healthy.

"But as we always say, injuries are a part of it and we’ve been getting hit pretty hard.’’

The Mavs’ starting backcourt of point guard Deron Williams (strained right calf) and Wesley Matthews (left Achilles surgery) are on the mend, while small forward Chandler Parsons (right knee surgery) and center JaVale McGee (left tibia stress fracture) are also beset with an injury. In addition, Nowitzki has just revved up his on-court activity in training camp after competing last month in EuroBasket 2015 for his German National Team.

Nowitzki plans to play in Friday’s game against the Atlanta Hawks at American Airlines Center. This was the plan all along.

"Obviously we knew that I was going to play this summer,’’ Nowitzki said after Thursday’s practice. "So I talked to coach, talked to the trainer, and (athletic performance director) Jeremy (Holsopple)) and stuff and see where we’re at.

"We decided to take the first two weeks (of training camp) kind of light and just do some running and conditioning and lifting, and a little bit of proactive here and there. But now it’s obviously time to step it up a little more and do a little more, so I’ve been practicing the last couple of days and feel fine, so I think I’m ready for a little action.’’

While coach Rick Carlisle won’t have his other four starters against the Hawks, he certainly is anxious to see how Nowitzki mixes with the remaining Mavs players.

"He went through everything today, so he’s doing good,’’ Carlisle said of Nowitzki. "He’s been doing very well the entire time.

"I think there’s a chance he could play tomorrow."

Carlisle isn’t sure when his other four starters will be able to play. But Nowitzki was quick to add that when the Mavs play Cleveland on Monday, Phoenix on Wednesday and Chicago on Friday, there’s no way he’ll play in all three of those games.

"I’m not sure if I need to play three games in five days in preseason,’’ Nowitzki said. "I haven’t really thought about (how many minutes he’ll play Friday).

"Just take it from day-to-day and we’ll see next week what the challenges are.’’

Dwain Price: 817-390-7760, @dwainprice

Dwain Price can be heard every Wednesday from 3-5 p.m. on dfwiradio.com.