Dirk Nowitzki’s Status For Game 5

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June 9th, 2011

As if there was ever any doubt, Dallas Mavericks star Dirk Nowitzki will start Game 5 of the NBA Finals on Thursday night against the Miami Heat despite dealing with an illness. Dallas opened as a 1.5-point favorite on Bodog’s NBA odds in what is essentially another must win for the Mavs with the series tied at 2 but headed back to Miami following Game 5.

The sinus infection and triple-digit temperature affecting Nowitzki are now almost gone, the Mavericks forward said Wednesday. Nowitzki played in Game 4 despite his illness and scored 21 points, 10 in the fourth quarter including the game-winning layup.

“I still got a little high temperature, but the fever is basically gone,” Nowitzki said. “Anything else, the sniffles or the cough, you don’t really care about that as long as the fever is gone. That’s the main thing you worry about.”

The Mavericks are likely to be without backup center Brendan Haywood. He didn’t practice with the team on Wednesday because he’s still recovering from a strained right hip flexor. Haywood, who missed Game 3 with the injury, played only three minutes in Game 4 on Tuesday. After the Mavericks’ Game 4 victory, Haywood said he didn’t think he could play the next game.

With Haywood out, starting center Tyson Chandler is averaging 42 minutes in the past two games. Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle said he is concerned about preserving Chandler in the wake of so many minutes. Meanwhile, guard J.J. Barea will remain in the starting lineup. He replaced DeShawn Stevenson in that role for Game 4. The move was made in attempt the increase tempo. Although the Mavs failed to score 100 points, they were able to score more in transition.

Expect another close game tonight as through four games, only five points have separated these teams.

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