The Dallas Mavericks are operating at a high level, posting a record of 15-11 to open the 2018-19 NBA season. Some of that uptick comes as a result of stellar play from rookie Luka Doncic and some of it stems from outstanding performance from the team’s bench, led by veteran guard J.J. Barea. However, the Mavericks have been doing this without the best player in the history of the franchise, and that is set to change on Thursday evening.
Dirk Nowitzki, who has been absent for the duration of the campaign as a result of ankle surgery, will make his season debut in a nationally televised match-up against the Phoenix Suns.
Buzz has been building in recent days with regard to Nowitzki’s pending debut but, after a bit of a longer wait than originally anticipated, it also seems fitting that the future Hall of Fame big man will take the floor in front of a national audience. At this point, Nowitzki isn’t the same force that he used to be and, as result, the 40-year-old will operate in a reserve role. Still, it adds a layer that is undeniably interesting for the Mavericks, particularly as they attempt to live up to a new standard that involves legitimate playoff contention.
An otherwise innocuous match-up between the Suns and Mavs wouldn’t be drawing much interest on a Thursday night, even with the good folks at TNT broadcasting the contest. This time around, though, there will be plenty of intrigue and it feels safe to assume that even the crowd in Phoenix will show appreciation for Nowitzki upon his return.