Jeff Caplan's post on Basketball | Latest updates on Sulia
Dirk Nowitzki continues to come off the bench, but with the Mavs being sunk by slow starts, why not just start him?
During their six-game losing streak, the Dallas Mavericks have trailed by double-digits in the first quarter in five.
Dirk has been back for the last four and in three of those the Mavs have trailed by at least 10 in the first quarter, including the last two games -- down 13 to the Nuggets and 14 to the Spurs in eventual blowouts.
Dallas (12-19) hoped to get a spark from Dirk's return, but so far he's performed as a bit player off the bench, averaging 7.5 points (on 32.4 percent shooting) and 4.5 rebounds in 21.8 minutes.
"Dirk’s situation is going to be purely based on what’s best for his long-term health," coach Rick Carlisle said. "And in the mean time, for as long as he’s going to come off the bench, we’ve got to find a group that can hold the fort and get us a lead."
Even though Dirk is not ready to return to 30-plus minutes a night in his recovery from October right knee arthroscopic surgery, his minutes should still be able to be managed while getting him in the starting lineup where he can get accustomed to playing with the Mavs' new backcourt of Darren Collison and O.J. Mayo, and maybe help the team get off to better starts.
However, Carlisle sounds as though he plans to to bring the 7-footer off the bench tonight at Washington. Dallas plays at Miami on Thursday night. He suggests it is more difficult to monitor minutes when the player starts.
For what it's worth, after the Spurs loss on Sunday, Dirk said he felt much improved over just two nights earlier.
"Guys that start, they play that big chunk of minutes to start each half and they run up fast because there’s no timeouts," Carlisle said. "He’s not ready to go into the 30 and 32-range of minutes. When he is he will, but I don’t know when it’s going to be. Could be sooner, could be later, but beyond that he’s 3-for-9 [shooting on Sunday], so what good is it to throw him out there more if he’s going through a process?
"We’ve got to pick him up and as this goes along his shooting nights will be better and that will all go the right way in due time."