Dirk Nowitzki is annoyed with the San Antonio Spurs.
Watching the Dallas Mavericks superstar jostle for position in the blocks with Boris Diaw and Tiago Splitter during Game 4 on Monday evening you could see it in his face. All the years of the abuse he’s received have reached a boiling point – one that could cause things to go in two very divergent, and diametrically opposite directions.
After all, when two rivals like the Spurs and Mavericks play each other as often as they do both in the regular season, and almost inevitably, in the post-season as well, familiarity quickly breeds some serious contempt.
When frustration and annoyance are channeled in the right way, however, they can become one of your biggest allies.
This is exactly the position the Mavericks find themselves in as they take yet another trip to the Alamo City to take on the Spurs in Game 5 of the NBA Western Conference Playoffs first-round series this evening.
Those Mavericks who have played with a chip on their shoulder during the four evenly-matched games to this point have been highly productive. At times, DeJuan Blair, Monta Ellis and Jorge Calderon have shown some emotion — albeit, controlled emotion — in doing what they do best.
Blair was a monster in limited time in Game 4, bringing some much needed edge to the floor before being ejected after a silly outburst in the early fourth quarter which has led to a Game 5 suspension. Calderon has been on fire from the perimeter, knocking down one jumper after the next and constantly working to keep the energy level high on the floor. Ellis has been the “good Ellis” more often than not, penetrating, breaking down the defense and creating solid scoring opportunities for his teammates while also getting some nice looks himself.
It’s great these three have played with a little edge, and channeled their annoyance with their old rivals into production, but there’s one guy who has yet to do the same in this series: Nowitzki.
Now, don’t get me wrong, 2014 Dirk Nowitzki isn’t 2007 Dirk Nowitzki.
There isn’t a need, nor an expectation for the Big German to drop 30-35 a night for Dallas to be in contention. Times have changed, but it’s unmistakable that on evenings when Nowitzki is locked-in offensively, the Mavericks are far from a disposable eight-seed.
There’s no doubt the Mavericks are annoyed with the Spurs.
The question is, can they channel this annoyance into production for a full 48 minutes and escape San Antonio with arguably the biggest win for the franchise in some time?
Only time, and that chip on Dirk Nowtizki’s shoulder, will tell.
Kris Hughes is a Senior Writer and the Hiring Manager for Rant Sports.
You can follow him on Twitter here.