The Masking Tape Dallas Mavericks probably need to buy some more rolls. Particularly since their superstar forward, Dirk Nowitzki, is now on the mend.
An MRI exam conducted Tuesday morning revealed that Nowitzki has a bone bruise in his right knee that he suffered early in Monday’s first-round playoff game against the Oklahoma City Thunder. Nowitzki was injured when he tripped over his own feet and slid on the floor 20 seconds into the game.
However, Nowitzki remained in the game and scored 17 points while playing 38 minutes as the Mavs tied this best-of-seven series at 1-1 with a stunning 85-84 victory on the road.
The Mavs have listed Nowitzki as day-to-day and hope he’ll be able to play when Game 3 tips off at 6 p.m. Thursday at American Airlines Center.
Dallas, which also will host Game 4 at 7 p.m. Saturday, has snatched home court advantage. But the Mavs know if Nowitzki is unable to play Thursday, or if his mobility is severely limited , that’s going to impact what they’re trying to accomplish.
“Dirk suffered a bruised right knee on the play very early in the game when he slid and fell,” coach Rick Carlisle said. “This thing with Dirk now, we hope this is not something that’s going to cause him to miss any time.”
Besides Nowitzki, the Mavs have a slew of players who are being carefully cared for by the team’s medical staff.
Point guard Deron Williams gutted it out and played 26 minutes and scored 13 points Monday while dealing with a sports hernia. His status for Game 3 is yet to be determined.
The Mavs hope center David Lee can play Thursday after missing the first two games of the series with a partial tear of his right plantar fascia.
Guard J.J. Barea anticipates playing in Game 3 after he sat out Mondaywith a strained right groin.
Guard Devin Harris played 26 minutes Monday despite dealing with a torn ligament in his left thumb and a lingering hamstring issue.
“Lee’s doing a little better. Barea is making some improvements,” Carlisle said. “Deron Williams’ status is going to remain uncertain going forward.
“Harris, he got through the game last night. Everything considered, he’s playing extremely well with a torn ligament in his thumb, and he’s got a hamstring issue that goes back a couple of months that he’s nursing through, also.”
Williams, who also had five assists in Game 2, was doubtful for Monday’s game. However, he said his issue is one of pain tolerance, so he played until the pain became unbearable and left for good with 5:43 remaining in the third quarter.
“The fact that he was able to play [Monday] night, it gave us an opportunity to get off to a good start, and a good start gives you a chance to finish,” Carlisle said. “So that was a very important thing that he was able to do that.
“My hope is he’s going to be able to play on Thursday, but we’ll see.”
The Mavs have that same hope for Nowitzki and their other injured players. And those injuries, along with their mitigating circumstances, are reasons why the Mavs are concerned they could cede home court advantage back to the Thunder.
“We know, from a manpower standpoint, we’re at a pretty big disadvantage just with our injuries,” Carlisle said. “And we know we’re not going to out-run or out-jump or out-skill these guys.
“We’ve got to play a working man’s, grinding, highly intelligent game to hang with them. And [Monday] night we found a way to hang in there and give ourselves a chance at the end, we made a couple of big plays and got out of there alive.”
Even before the playoffs started, Carlisle had dubbed his team as the Masking Tape Mavs because of the number of injuries his team had to endure. When asked how many healthy players he has on his roster, Carlisle was noncommittal.
“I’m not going to entertain that question until tomorrow,” he said. “We’ll see where we are tomorrow.”
Mavericks vs. Thunder
6 p.m. Thursday, KTXA/21, TNT