DALLAS – Dirk Nowitzki took another step towards making his 2018-’19 debut he was engaged in a spirited game of three-on-three basketball after Monday afternoon’s practice at the Lympo practice facilities.

It’s a step up from where Nowitzki was recently when he was engaged in scrimmages against the Mavs’ interns. Still, no one knows for sure when the 21-year veteran will finally be able to play in his first game this season.

“Dirk’s getting closer,” coach Rick Carlisle said. “I just don’t have a date for you.”

Another indication that Nowitzki is getting closer to playing in a game for the first time since last season is that his long-time coach from Germany, Holger Geschwindner, was at the Mavs’ practice facilities for the first time during the regular season.

“It’s about time for Holger to be here,” Carlisle said. “It’s been a while. He comes preseason, comes in December, comes a couple of weeks before the All-Star break, and he comes at the end of the year.

“So it’s like the four seasons of Holger – autumn, winter, winter and spring. Two winters and a spring.”

In Monday’s half court scrimmage, Nowitzki was teamed with guard Ryan Broekhoff and shooting coach Peter Patton. That trio was matched against forward Luka Doncic, guard Jalen Brunson and center Salah Mejri.

As the scrimmage got more competitive, Nowitzki was busy burying his patented jump shot, and he also threw down a few dunks for good measure.

“It’s good to see him playing against some NBA players today,” forward Harrison Barnes said. “He’s usually playing against the interns, so it’s been fun to see this.

“He’s getting close and we can’t wait to get him back out there.”

Nowitzki underwent left ankle surgery on Apr. 5 and just hasn’t fully recovered from that surgery. The last game he played was on Apr. 3 during a 115-109 home win over Portland when he scored 14 points on 5-of-14 shots and grabbed four rebounds.

After that contest against the Trail Blazers, Nowitzki missed the final four games last season and wound up averaging 12 points and 5.7 rebounds while playing 24.7 minutes per contest. But now, it’s a new season for the 40-year old who is trying his best to get back on the court as soon as possible.

“He just got to keep working,” Carlisle said. “He’s got to keep working on strength, playing simulation games with some of our guys at the half court game. Just simulations of getting spring and moving and recovery and all of that.

“It’s never going to be the same as running out there with real NBA players and an arena full of people and all of that, but you got to do what you can do. He’s been doing the work, his recoveries have been better and better, so I certainly think this month it’s going to happen if all continues to go well.”

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