With less than a month remaining in the regular season before the start of the NBA Playoffs, the Dallas Mavericks are making one final push to try and make the postseason. Dallas has 10 games remaining in their season and they trail the Los Angeles Lakers by a game and a half in the Western Conference standings.
Just to be as close as they are to making the playoffs, the Mavericks have had to claw their way back up the standings this month. The primary reason they’ve been able to do that is the play of their superstar, Dirk Nowitzki.
Nowitzki missed all of November and most of December to start this season, and he didn’t look like the superstar that fans have come to know him as when he first returned. In the month of January he averaged just 16.9 points, 5.8 rebounds and 2.9 assists per game. He also shot just 44.2 percent from the field and 36.2 percent from long range in January, his first full month back in action.
He played a little bit better over February and the beginning of March, but it’s been the last 10 games when Nowitzki has finally looked like he’s returning to superstar-form. Over the Mavs’ last 10 games, Nowitzki has averaged 20.7 points, 8.1 rebounds and 2.2 assists per game, which is much closer to what people expect from Dirk. Even more characteristic of Dirk is the fact that he’s shot 54.1 percent from the field and 41.9 percent from three over his last 10 games.
The Mavericks have a plausible chance of overtaking the Lakers for the eight-seed in the West. If that’s going to happen, though, Nowitzki is the key. Guys like O.J. Mayo and Vince Carter have to play well, but no one else on Dallas’ roster has the experience, the leadership and the ability to affect the game the way Nowitzki does. He has to play like a superstar or the Mavericks will miss out on the postseason.