Having dropped seven straight games with two of their top veterans missing the majority of the way, the Mavericks are in a world of hurt, literally.
Due to an illness and soreness in his right achilles, a 38-year-old Dirk Nowitzki was sidelined for two-and-a-half weeks. That’s 10 games out the window already for a man who’s stayed relatively healthy for the majority of his illustrious career.
Luckily for Dallas, he returned to the court on Wednesday against the Clippers. Nowitzki may have had a rusty night shooting-wise (3-for-10 from the floor for 10 points), but Mavs head coach Rick Carlisle was pleased with how he looked physically.
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“Good,” Carlisle said at shoot around Friday. “Considering he’s been out for two and a half weeks, he’s moving well.
“He got some pretty good looks. A couple of them were tough. We’ve just got to keep moving forward and keep progressing him and adjusting as we work to get healthier.”
Unfortunately for Dallas, that’s not the only player who’s been banged up this year. Deron Williams, who’s dealt with injuries in the past, has been bothered by a left calf strain. Nine days ago against Boston, he re-aggravated it and hasn’t played a game since.
Carlisle didn’t reveal whether or not Williams will play Friday in Cleveland.
“Well you know the lineups tonight,” he said. “He’s been doing stuff and he’s been making progress, so we’ll let you know who’s going to play tonight. I think that’s fair.”
After shoot around concluded, however, the Mavs point guard told media that he’ll be a game-time decision despite being listed as questionable.
Containing Kevin Love and the NBA champions
As a team sitting in the basement of the West riddled with injuries, the Mavs have their work cut out for them taking on the Cleveland Cavaliers at full-strength.
“Got to play a very precise game against them,” Carlisle said. “They’re explosive. They’re top five in virtually every offensive and defensive category that matters. Got to play a smart, tough, aggressive game against them. It’s no accident they’ve got the record that they’ve got. They’re the world champions.”
Coming off of a historic night where he set an NBA record for most point, all eyes will be likely on Kevin Love on the defensive end for Dallas
When asked about the performance, Carlisle said Portland let Love loose in transition a few too many times, but it was the chances his team gave him that got him going.
“He was very hot,” Carlisle said. “He has a quick trigger. Great players can really get it going in this league. It obviously is a big priority for us tonight not to let him get going period, let alone seven or eight threes in one quarter.
“But look, Love’s a great player. He really is a great player. He’s playing with some guys that are great playmakers and they can facilitate him getting open looks. Doing a good job guarding all those guys is really what this is all about.”