Dallas Mavericks

Jameer Nelson with play tonight against the Bulls

CHICAGO – Jameer Nelson will be back on the court tonight at 7 when the Dallas Mavericks square off against the Chicago Bulls at the United Center.

The Mavs’ starting point guard, Nelson missed the previous three games while dealing with back spasms. Devin Harris started in Nelson’s absence with J.J. Barea logging the backup point guard minutes.

Dallas posted a 3-0 record without Nelson, but the Mavs know, long-term, they definitely need his presence on the floor.

"We missed his manpower, we missed another playmaker,’’ coach Rick Carlisle said after Tuesday’s shootaround. "Even though he’s not real tall, he’s a real physical guy and we miss his experience.’’

Nelson, 32, has missed time before with back spasms during his 10-year tenure with the Orlando Magic.

"It wasn’t spasms in a game (this time), it just was tight that morning and I tweaked it in practice and it just locked up on me," Nelson said. "This happened before, but once every five or six years."

Nelson credits the Mavs’ training staff for getting him back on the court quicker than even he expected.

"I’m fortunate that it wasn’t as serious as how it felt,’’ he said. "It’s just one of those things where you can’t really do anything without your back.

"You can’t laugh, joke, you can’t run, obviously can’t jump or anything like that. These (Mavs training staff) guys, they do a great job of giving you the right exercises and helping you to get back on the court.’’

The Mavs, meanwhile, are happy Nelson is back so it can lighten the load for Harris and Barea.

"It ran the minutes up on some of the other guys,’’ Carlisle said of Nelson’s absence. "We can deal with that, but we’re a better team with him.’’