DALLAS —The Dallas Mavericks planned to be without injured Dirk Nowitzki for Wednesday night’s pivotal game against Golden State, even after the reigning MVP went through the morning shootaround.
Nowitzki wants to get back during the playoff race, but is still having problems with his left ankle when he tries to stop hard or make quick moves.
“The work today wasn’t great,” Nowitzki said after the shootaround. “I’m still sore in a couple of movements.”
There were hopes that Nowitzki could play Wednesday after the team upgraded his status to day-to-day following his 45-minute workout Tuesday. But that optimism faded after the shootaround session.
“I’ve got to be pain-free. If I can’t move out there and cut and try to defend and move my feet, it really doesn’t make any sense to try to get out there,” Nowitzki said. “Just hobbling around wouldn’t help anybody. I would rather have somebody out there that can go and give 100 percent.”
Nowitzki sprained his left ankle and knee March 23. He said his knee is fine.
Coach Avery Johnson said the Mavericks planned to be without Nowitzki against the Warriors.
“We know 70 or 80 percent of Dirk is still pretty good, but we don’t want to put him out there if he’s in any danger,” Johnson said. “Sometimes it’s better to have a little bit lesser talented guy that’s 100 percent than having a superstar that just can’t move at all.”
Dallas was definitely without Jerry Stackhouse, who has a groin injury. Johnson said Stackhouse had an MRI and would be out at least a week.
The Mavericks (46-28) went into Wednesday night’s game in seventh place in the Western Conference, a half-game ahead of Denver and a game ahead of Golden State. The top eight teams make the playoffs. Dallas and Golden State each have seven games left after Wednesday.
With the regular season winding down, Nowitzki is eager to play.
“I try to come back usually around 85 to 90 (percent) and I know I can be confident in my movement,” Nowitzki said. “I don’t think I’m quite at 85, but given the situation we’re in, basically tied with three teams for the playoffs, I might have to come back a little earlier.”
The Mavericks play at the Los Angeles Lakers on Friday and at Phoenix on Sunday.
Nowitzki didn’t know when he will return, but knows he will have to play through some pain and soreness eventually.
“I think if I wait until I’m 100 percent, I think the regular season will be over,” he said. “But like I said, I don’t want to play where it really slows me down.”