Shutting Down Dirk Nowitzki For the Greater Good
Five games into his 19th season in the NBA, Dirk Nowitzki is being shut down by Rick Carlisle and the medical staff as he tries to get his Achilles back on track.
After missing two of the first four games for the Dallas Mavericks, Dirk Nowitzki made his home debut Friday night against Portland, but only played two quarters.
After coming out at halftime to warm up, he immediately went back into the tunnel as his night was over due to lingering soreness in his Achilles. With the Mavs losing their fifth straight game, this was the cherry on top for their depressing start to the season.
As Nowitzki was ruled out for the rest of the game, nobody knew the severity of the injury until Mavs Head Coach, Rick Carlisle, addressed the media in his post game press conference.
“He’s going to be out for a while. We will update you guys in about 7 days. He will not play at least until then. He did not re-injure the Achilles. It’s just lingering. It’s not getting better the way it needs to and we got to shut him down.”
Silence hit the media room as the inevitable was announced. Not only are the Mavericks winless on the season, but the best player in franchise history is going to be sidelined for some time. Seven days would mean that Nowitzki is guaranteed to miss the three games against Milwaukee, Los Angeles, and Golden State.
But that is just when the update to his timetable will happen. I would be SHOCKED if Nowitzki is ready to play in just a week. With a road trip lingering after that to New York and Boston, it seems likely that the timetable is leaning towards two weeks with a target being Memphis at home on the 18th of November.
There is no need to rush him back and the medical staff will need full clearance to put him back on the court. The last thing everybody wants is this injury to linger all season or become more serious.
“His health is the most important thing. He is more than willing to continue playing, but its pretty obvious that things just aren’t right. We have to do the right thing here and back him off and get to the root of it and get it fixed,” Rick Carlisle said post game.
When Nowitzki was asked about his injury situation at his locker after the game, he echoed what Carlisle said in needing time to get it right.
“Decided to shut it down. Makes no sense to keep dragging this on for weeks. Like I said, it hasn’t really gotten better. Going to take a few days off, not get on the court, not do all this stuff that really makes it sore.”
“Makes no sense to keep dragging this on for weeks” -Dirk on his lingering injury
Nowitzki will take the next few days and give his whole body a rest from everything. Hopefully, after those full days of rest go by, he can get back rehabbing with the hopes of getting full speed in a week or two.
Because what he has been trying simply isn’t working.
“I’ve been getting treatment for hours every day. My guy from Germany is here treating me everyday for over two hours. Been on the meds. Nothing really has made it better to the point where I can move out there without it bothering me.”
Even with the well-known medical staff here in Dallas, Nowitzki has had his own guy in from Germany treating him over the past week for multiple hours a day.
It’s the cutting and quick movements that are causing the Achilles to flare up in-game and bringing constant pain. Opposing teams are taking advantage of the Big German as the stretch him with shooters or put out athletic lineups that he hasn’t been able to match up with.
"“I’m already not moving great at 38 as it is, to be out there on one leg isn’t helping myself and not helping the team at all. Hopefully get this thing right over the next few days and then I can ramp it back up”"
This is basically what it comes down to. Dirk’s defense and movement has already been under the microscope for the past couple of seasons, but with a sore Achilles, it’s only been magnified. The Mavs desperately need his offense, but only a healthy Dirk can help them like they need.
You can never replace a Dirk Nowitzki, but the time is now for small ball in Dallas.
Although Carlisle has not said specifically who will take his place in the starting unit, I would assume they will insert J.J. Barea and push Harrison Barnes into the power forward spot. Seth Curry and Justin Anderson might be popular fan choices, but the ability to penetrate the lane is something that Carlisle covets with this team.
“I’m prepared to do whatever this team needs.,” Barnes said at his locker post game. “Whether it is power forward or sometimes guarding the five, whatever I need to do in order to get wins.”
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The Mavs are in desperation mode at this point as the theme post game from the press conference to the locker room was to “keep fighting.” Whatever lineup changes to minute distributions that need to take place, Dallas will exhaust all options over the coming weeks to try an re-salvage the season.
The only question now is…can Dallas stop the bleeding without Dirk Nowitzki on the court?