Dallas Mavericks star forward Dirk Nowitzki declared himself ready to return after missing the past two games with a strained right thigh muscle.
Nowitzki plans to play Monday night against the defending Western Conference champion Oklahoma City Thunder, although he isn’t completely healthy.
“I’ll give it a go tonight,” Nowitzki said. “It’s going to be a little tight, I guess, but if I wait until this is all gone, we might sit out another two weeks. I don’t know how a pulled muscle heals, so I’ll just try to give it a go. If it’s just tight, then it’s fine.
“As long as it doesn’t grab me and doesn’t get worse during the game, that’s the major key. I’m going to try to get nice and loose and keep it loose during the game and try to give it a go.”
After missing the first 27 games while recovering from arthroscopic knee surgery, Nowitzki struggled, by his standards, while working his way back into game shape.
He is averaging 14.8 points and 5.5 rebounds while shooting 42.5 percent from the floor, all numbers that are the 11-time All-Star’s lowest since his rookie season in 1998-99.
However, the 34-year-old Nowitzki had been encouraged by the progress he had made recently before this injury, which is not related to his knee. He injured the right adductor, a muscle in the inner thigh, late in Tuesday’s loss to the Portland Trail Blazers, when he had 12 of his season-high 26 points in the fourth quarter.
Nowitzki acknowledged he’s concerned the muscle pull, the first of his 15-year career, could disrupt his recent progress.
“It stinks, no question about it,” Nowitzki said. “But I’m past the stage of crying or whatever. You’ve got to just fight through it and take the punches as they come and roll with it. Obviously, it was bad timing.”