Mavs forward Dirk Nowitzki will make his return to action tonight after missing the previous 14 games with a sore left Achilles.
Head coach Rick Carlisle confirmed the No. 6 all-time scorer in NBA history would play tonight against the Los Angeles Clippers, saying he’s doing well but he’ll play “on a limited-minutes basis.”
“This is the beginning,” Carlisle said. “It’s gonna be a long road back to full minutes, full conditioning, and full rhythm. But now is the time to start.”
Nowitzki went through an hour-long individual workout yesterday, Carlisle said.
“He’s done the work,” the coach said. “He’s pain-free and things are in a very positive position right now. So it’s time to get going.”
The 19-year vet said he hopes to have no further issues with the Achilles, which had given him issues during his previous returns to action, particularly when he left a home game against Portland in November early. He’d miss the next eight games before returning for two straight against the Clippers and Cavaliers in late-November.
“We’re gonna ease it in a little slower than we did a couple weeks ago,” Nowitzki said. “Hopefully it’ll respond the right way, and I’m not missing any more action.”
Carlisle and Nowitzki both said the plan is to take his return to action slowly. Carlisle used the word “gradual” to describe that process earlier this week, adding the goal is to eventually get him up to 20-25 minutes per game.
In his five games this season, Nowitzki has averaged 12.2 points and 6.4 rebounds per game. In his most recent appearance on Nov. 25, the German scored 15 points on 7-of-18 shooting, adding six rebounds and three assists. He needs just 448 points to become the sixth player in league history to score 30,000 points in his career.