So, when he was asked what he expects from the San Antonio Spurs without leading scorer Manu Ginobili, who is out with a fractured hand, Nowitzki didn't think twice about it.
"It's a rivalry and it's always fun games down there," Nowitzki said. "I remember one year, I forgot, maybe a year ago or two years ago, we were down there, they had no Tim Duncan, no Manu and still beat us. So, we've got to be ready for a dogfight."
Nowitzki was probably reflecting on the Nov. 11, 2009 game when the Spurs, playing without Duncan and Tony Parker, beat Dallas, 92-83, down in San Antone. Richard Jefferson may have played his single-best game with the Spurs that night, scoring 29 points. Nowitzki also had 29, but was just 9-of-27 from the field.
Records: Mavs (3-4); Spurs (4-2)
When: 7:30 p.m.
Where: American Airlines Center
Radio: 103.3 FM ESPN; 1270 AM (Spanish)
What to watch: Both teams played Wednesday night and Mavs coach Rick Carlisle did a nice job of managing minutes. Jason Kidd played just 27:43 and nobody logged more time than Dirk Nowitzki's still-reasonable 34:32. Carlisle used 11 players in all and four reserves played 22 or more minutes. Expect a similar pattern against the Spurs.
Key matchup: Tony Parker vs. Delonte West
Now that Manu Ginobili is on the shelf, the Spurs' point guard is now the team's most lethal weapon. Parker guided the Spurs to a 101-95 home win over the Golden State Warriors on Wednesday, posting 21 points and eight assists. West should be well-rested for the challenge since foul trouble Wednesday night against the Phoenix Suns reduced his playing time to just 9:43. The feisty West starts at shooting guard for the Mavs, but like last season, Carlisle is swapping defensive assignments to allow Jason Kidd to stay away from quick, penetrating point guards.
Injuries: Mavs - none. Spurs - G Manu Ginobili (fractured hand) is out.
Up next: New Orleans Hornets at Mavs, 7:30 p.m., Saturday