The Dallas Mavericks are defying preseason expectations and keep on winning, this time 106-102 against the Boston Celtics, with the never ending Dirk Nowitzki showing how age is just a number.
And speaking of numbers: Nowitzki scored 23 points to lead the Mavericks back from 18 points down. Wesley Matthews added 18, Deron Williams added 16 and even Zaza Pachulia contributed with 14 points on something that might be described as an offensive outburst for him, although big men do have an easy time against the Celtics soft frontcourt. Isaiah Thomas led the Celtics with 19 points, Jared Sullinger and Avery Bradley each scored 18.
In a nice moment during the early goings of the game when the Celtics were running the floor with the slightly surprised Mavericks, Kelly Olynyk tried to post up on Nowitzki and then score on him using the one-footed fadeaway. It bounced off the rim as time in the first quarter expired, and the two shared a nice little smile afterwards. Olynyk simply said he had to try it one time against Nowitzki. He doesn’t know how many of them he’ll have left.
I thought their energy was great there in the first quarter. They were all over us. I don’t think we were ready for how intense they play. We did a great job closing it out there in the fourth. That was a fun game. Everybody was sharing the ball and making some key shots.
Maybe it shouldn’t be that big of a surprise that Dirk Nowitzki is playing so well when he’s five months past his 37th birthday. He was always an unconventional fella on the court, redefining what a 7-foot power forward can or can’t do. His personal training methods have been different. He’s just not like everyone else, from the way he shoots to how he handles the ball and sets himself up for the next shot. He takes his time, he likes players in his face. He’s just different, always has been, in a good way.
So averaging 18.5 points in just 28.6 minutes while shooting 52.1% from the field and 50% from beyond the arc, helping the Mavs to an 8-4 start, is, well, normal? There’s nothing ordinary about Nowitzki, but he’s been in the league for so long, it just seems usual to us. Even when he should be hitting the bench a lot more, and not hitting his shots with such ease and casualness. There has never been anyone like him in this league, and maybe there won’t be again, at least for a very long time.