Dirk Nowitzki – After an extended slump, Nowitzki is performing like a perennial All-Star again. He has averaged 26.3 points on 61.5 percent shooting in the last three games, displaying the offensive arsenal that has made him one of the NBA’s toughest matchups for more than a decade. The only aspect of his game as a scorer that hasn’t fully returned to form is his 3-point shot (4-of-12 in last three games). He’s back to being a deadly midrange jump shooter who can create off the dribble when defenders try to close out on him. His legs feel strong again, as evidenced by his average of 8.0 rebounds in the last three games and his confidence to dip into his deep, quirky bag of off-the-dribble tricks.
Ian Mahinmi – Coach Rick Carlisle insists Mahinmi’s DNP-CD in Cleveland isn’t evidence that the backup big man has landed in the doghouse, but Mahinmi is no longer guaranteed minutes on a regular basis. That’s because Brandan Wright has been remarkably productive in limited playing time, but it’s probably not a coincidence that Mahinmi sat an entire game for the first time this season after a two-point, two-rebound outing in a 16-minute stint during last week’s loss to the Pacers. Mahinmi responded to the benching the right way, though, putting up seven points and four rebounds in only 11 minutes during Wednesday’s win over the Nuggets. It’s notable, however, that Wright got more playing time in that game.