The Dallas Mavericks won’t exactly have a skeleton crew suited up tonight to play against the defending champion Golden State Warriors.
But they won’t exactly be at full strength, either.
Mavericks forwards Dirk Nowitzki, Chandler Parsons and Jeremy Evans, along with guards Deron Williams and Devin Harris will not play tonight.
Nowitzki won’t play so he can get the proper rest leading up to the back-to-back games Sunday and Monday in Sacramento and Denver, respectively. Parsons underwent season-ending arthroscopic surgery Friday to address an injury to his right medial meniscus.
Evans is out for the season after undergoing right shoulder surgery on March 17. Williams has an abdominal strain, but plans to play against Denver and Sacramento.
Meanwhile, Harris rushed back to Dallas to be by his wife’s side after she gave birth to a girl this morning.
In all, the Mavericks (35-36) will dress 10 players tonight against the Warriors (64-7).
While fans might not understand why the Mavericks are resting Nowitzki in the middle of a heated playoff race, coach Rick Carlisle has an explanation.
"This is something we’ve looked at for weeks and it was basically on the calendar, so it’s a pre-scheduled rest day,’’ Carlisle said after Friday morning’s shootaround at the Olympic Club in downtown San Francisco. "It had nothing to do with who we’re playing after and anything else.
"It’s a big picture decision.’’
Nowitzki, who turns 38 on June 19, has been the Mavericks’ best player all season and has scored 20 or more points in nine consecutive games. And he’s also the team’s leading scorer at 18.8 points per game.
Carlisle said it wasn’t difficult to sit Nowitzki during a time when the Mavericks are fighting with Portland, Utah and Houston for both playoff seedings and a berth in the postseason.
"It’s the right thing to do,’’ Carlisle said. "And we’ve got other guys that we believe in and we’re going to have to do it collectively, that’s the bottom line.’’
Nowitzki’s workload recently has been a concern. He’s played 35 or more minutes in six of the past nine games.
"We knew coming down the stretch that we were going to be relying on him and that his minutes could go up, and that’s why he’s resting tonight,’’ Carlisle said. "We’re in obviously a critical phase in the season, and so we’ve got to do what’s right here.’’
While Nowitzki is concerned about his increased workload, he said he’s feeling fine.
"Like I said, the All-Star break was a nice little getaway for me and I’m kind of refreshed,’’ Nowitzki said. "It almost feels like its November to me.
"With almost 10 days not having a game (during the All-Star break), I felt fine.’’
Still, the competitor in Nowitzki wanted to be on the court against Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and the rest of the Warriors. Especially since he also rested for the Mavericks’ game in Oakland on Jan. 27 after Dallas played the previous night on the road against a Los Angeles Lakers’ squad they defeated 92-90.
"Obviously, I would have loved to play tonight,’’ Nowitzki said. "This is a great atmosphere, and you play against the defending champs.
"I didn’t get a chance to play here obviously earlier this season, so it’s disappointing to me, but I always understand what’s at stake. We’ve got a huge back-to-back coming up with two games we just got to have, so I’m going to sit thins one tonight and hopefully be ready on Sunday afternoon.’’
When asked if he will play both ends of the upcoming back-to-back against the Kings and Nuggets, Nowitzki said: "I’m not a betting man, but if I was a betting man I’d bet on that.’’
Dwain Price can be heard every Wednesday from 3-4 p.m. on dfwiradio.com