Dallas Mavericks: Dirk Nowitzki set to return tonight against the Suns

Dallas Mavericks Dirk Nowitzki (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)
Dallas Mavericks Dirk Nowitzki (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images) /

The Dallas Mavericks take on the Phoenix Suns tonight in Phoenix. Dirk Nowitzki is reportedly returning tonight for his first game since April. What does this do for the team?

Holiday miracles really do happen, and this one benefits Dallas Mavericks fans around the world. Although we are still 12 days from Christmas, the Mavs have decided to celebrate early by announcing that Dirk Nowitzki is planning on making his season debut tonight against Phoenix, per Tim MacMahon of ESPN.

Dirk will be playing in his first game since April 3rd against the Portland Trail Blazers in which he dropped 14 points and grabbed 4 boards in 24 minutes of game time. I wouldn’t plan on seeing 25 minutes from Dirk tonight, but it will be very exciting to get him back on the court.

The addition of Dirk Nowitzki to the Mavs bench has a lot of people concerned about how playing time will be distributed between the now 7-8 bench players that should be getting some time in the game. I am not sure how it will work out yet, but give Rick Carlisle time to make it gel.

The Mavs are also on the second night of a back-to-back and on the road. They have not won a second night, back-to-back game yet this season and their road record is 2-9 at this point. Hopefully the return of Dirk can help spark the team into getting a win over the worst team in the NBA missing their best player.

The thing that concerns me the most with the game tonight is that there are so many reasons the Mavs should win. Everyone is playing well, Dirk is back, The Suns are really bad, Devin Booker, the guy that normally torments the Mavs, is out and Dallas has something to prove on the road. It is the perfect storm for a big time choke game but the Mavs won’t allow that to happen.

Here are two things to watch for during tonight’s game.

Luka and the Legend

The Ghost of Mavericks Past and the Ghost of Mavericks Future will likely find themselves on the court together at some point tonight and that should get Mavs fans singing Christmas Carols all the way in Dallas. Luka’s ability to drive and kick over the past few games has been really impressive and Dallas will add another weapon to that attack with Dirk and the trail three.

It’s unlikely that these two will be on the court together for very long, but the questionable status for Dennis Smith Jr. and J.J. Barea could mean added minutes for Luka with the second unit. It is doubtful that Dirk plays more than 15 minutes tonight, though.

Jalen Brunson

Brunson has been a monster over the past week, averaging 14 points, 4.7 assists, 2 steals and only one turnover in the three games prior to Atlanta. He will look to pick those numbers right back up tonight after a night where he didn’t get many chances to shoot the ball against Atlanta.

Brunson had essentially fallen out of the rotation before Dennis Smith Jr. went down with an injury. Since then, he has proven that he deserves minutes in the Mavs rotation and Carlisle hasn’t had to worry about where those minutes come in just yet. Once DSJ is back, the Mavs will have some decisions to make.

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The Dallas Mavericks and Phoenix Suns tip off tonight at 9:30 central time at Talking Stick Resort Arena in Phoenix, Arizona. As of now, Devin Booker will be missing for Phoenix and DSJ and J.J. are both questionable for Dallas. The game will be available on TNT tonight.