By Bryan Murphy
Dirk Nowitzki still is, and always will be, Dirk Nowitzki… despite father time catching up to him over the years.
The Big German displayed a vintage performance of epic proportions on Sunday afternoon against the Portland Trailblazers. Nowitzki poured in a season high 40 points in the thrilling 132-120 overtime victory over a team that is just half a game up on Dallas in the standings.
“The win is big,” Nowitzki said. “You know, the win is all that matters.”
Nowitzki also joined elite company with the 40-point outing, becoming just the fourth player in NBA history to score at least 40 points in a game at the age of 37. Those three other guys on the list happen to all be Hall of Famers in Karl Malone, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Michael Jordan.
“We’ve all got to enjoy whatever time we’ve got left to watch him,” Coach Rick Carlisle said after the win. “Whatever number of years it is.”
Deron Williams also had his best game of the season as he became the first Mavs player with 30 points and 15 assists in a game since Jason Kidd in 1996. His 31 points and 16 assists to be exact were especially huge in the absence of Chandler Parsons who sat with a minor hamstring injury. This morning it was announced that Chandler Parsons is likely to have season-ending surgery to address a torn meniscus in his right knee. This is horrible news for the team and for Mavs fans hoping to make the playoffs.
Now, the Mavericks have to do it all over again as they will face the Trailblazers in a turnaround game but this time on the road in Portland on Wednesday night. As expected, Dallas had a difficult time Sunday containing the guard tandem of Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum. The duo combined for 48 points and 16 assists and Dallas was extremely fortunate Lillard couldn’t knock down his three point attempt at the end of regulation that would have won the game.
Mason Plumlee also had a field day snagging 19 rebounds, but that’s been nothing new for opposing centers playing the Mavs this season. Portland as a team was able to grab a prodigious 22 offensive boards. That absolutely cannot happen this time around when these two teams play at the Moda Center especially since it is unlikely that Dallas will shoot 60 percent from beyond the arc again this time around.
Dallas then faces the daunting task of going up against the out-of-this-world Golden State warriors for the second time in a week, this time at Oracle Arena. The Warriors simply do not lose at Oracle Arena. Golden State is currently on a 50-game home winning streak, the longest such streak in NBA history.
Last Friday in the 130-112 loss to Steph Curry and the Warriors, it wasn’t just Curry who obliterated the Mavs. Klay Thompson was 10-of-15 from long range en route to his game high 39 points. Dallas hung in there for the majority of three quarters in that game but the superstar firepower was just too much for Dallas. If the Mavericks are the team to end the Warriors’ home winning streak, they’ll without a doubt be shocking the basketball world.
The Mavericks then cap off the three-game West coast road trip in Sacramento on Sunday night. It will be the fourth and final time these two teams will square off this season and is also subtly a must win game.
Approaching the final 3-4 weeks of the season and where the Mavs sit in the standings (35-35, half a game up on the 9th seed Jazz), games against opponents with atrocious records such as the Kings (27-43) are must have games.
Ideally and realistically, a successful road trip this week includes beating Portland, owning the tiebreaker if it comes down to that, and beating Sacramento while losing to Golden State. This shall be an interesting week nonetheless.
Upcoming Schedule – All Times Central
3/23 @Blazers 9:00 pm
3/25 @Warriors 9:30 pm
3/27 @Kings 5:00 pm