Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Nowitzki not ready; Stack out a week

Dirk Nowitzki likely will not play tonight against those pesky Warriors. He participated in today’s shootaround and all indications are that the reigning MVP isn’t physically ready to return. Nowitzki has missed the last four games with a high left ankle/knee sprain suffered against San Antonio.

The knee is fine, but the ankle remains in a custom brace. Soreness remains and sharp movements, such as stop and starts, change in direction and pushing off that ankle, are troublesome.

“I’ve got to be pain free,” Nowitzki said. “If I can’t move out there, try to defend and move my feet, it really doesn’t make any sense to be out there just hobbling around. It won’t help anybody. I’d rather have somebody else out there 100 percent.”

Nowitzki doesn’t have to be at 100 percent to get back. He said he can function at 85-90 percent, but admitted he might have to come back even earlier than that.

“If I wait until I’m 100 percent, I think the regular season is going to be over,” he said.

As always, the training staff and Avery Johnson want to monitor Nowitzki’s recovery this afternoon before making a definitive decision for the game. Nowitzki, however, appears resigned to the fact that it won’t be tonight. He didn’t want to speculate about the weekend trip to the LA Lakers and Phoenix.

Compensation issues are also at stake, as in Nowitzki favoring the ankle and having that lead to injuries somewhere else. There’s also a balancing act of the team needing Nowitzki now and the franchise needing him for years to come.

“We don’t want to put him in any long-term danger,” said Johnson, who added that the team is preparing to play without Nowitzki.

A Mavs’ victory tonight means essentially a three-game lead over Golden State with seven games to play. The lead would be two games in the standings plus the head-to-head tiebreaker. Dallas currently leads the series 2-1.

“Obviously, I would love to play tonight,” Nowitzki said. “It’s a huge game.”

The news on Jerry Stackhouse (strained groin) isn’t good, either. He underwent an MRI exam today and he’s out for at least a week.

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