Rested Dirk ready to 'let it all hang out'

DALLAS -- There aren’t many players who appreciate a full day off more than Dirk Nowitzki.

After all, there aren’t any players his age who have played more minutes this season than the Mavericks’ 35-year-old star.

So it’s safe to assume that Nowitzki enjoyed his Sunday, the Mavs' last such off day until April 13.

“Very much so,” Nowitzki said after Monday’s practice. “It was good. I didn’t even come to the gym at all yesterday. I told Holger [Geschwindner] to go somewhere else. I took a complete day off yesterday and stayed off my feet, just got some treatment. That was great.

“Today, I thought we actually had a pretty good workout. Went at it a little bit and got the competitive spirits up again for an enormous game [Tuesday].”

There’s no such thing as a poorly timed day off, especially for a team that relies on as many veterans as the Mavs. But the timing of this one couldn’t have been much better.

This has been a strenuous homestand for the Mavs despite not including any back-to-backs. Three of the seven games have gone to overtime, causing Nowitzki to average 34.7 minutes per game over the last two weeks, significantly higher than the goal of 32.

“We needed a day off,” coach Rick Carlisle said. “It came at the right time.”

The Mavs have eight games to go. They jump back into the schedule with a three-games-in-four-nights stretch that starts with Tuesday night’s matchup against the Golden State Warriors, a game that will determine whether the West’s sixth seed is within the Mavs’ reach down the stretch.

The hope is that a full day off their feet helps veterans such as Nowitzki, Shawn Marion and Vince Carter when the Warriors come to town and beyond.

“Actually, you’re almost a little stiffer after a day off,” Nowitzki said. “But once that first sweat, once the juices start flowing, you feel better. I expect to feel even better tomorrow since we don’t have a game today.

“Looking at our stretch here, there’s no more two days off between games from now on. We’ve got a back-to-back this week. I think we got the most out of the rest that we got this week, and now it’s pedal to the metal.”

All things considered, Nowitzki feels “pretty good” 90 percent into the Mavs’ regular season. Other than some occasional stiffness, he hasn’t had any problems with his knees. He’s only missed two of 74 games, one due to illness and the other as precautionary rest.

Nowitzki’s legs have felt heavy at the end of some games, especially on this homestand, when he’s struggled down the stretch in the three losses. However, he’s hopeful he’s physically prepared to finish the season strong.

“Hey, there’s no looking back now,” Nowitzki said. “It happened and we still have a chance to make this a decent homestand. We’ve just got to go for it and let it all hang out.

“Really, it’s at this point where you just go for the next game, let it all hang out. If you’re tired, it doesn’t matter. Get someone else in there. We’ve just got to grind every one of them out.”