Should Elton Brand or Chris Kaman start next to Dirk Nowitzki?

DALLAS -- With Dirk Nowitzki’s return to the starting lineup on the horizon, coach Rick Carlisle will have to come up with the answer to another big question.

Who should start at center next to Nowitzki?

Chris Kaman has started the vast majority of the Mavs’ games this season, including the past 14, but he might not be a good fit to man the frontcourt with his good buddy and German national teammate. Elton Brand has played with Nowitzki much more than Kaman has so far this season.

“I think the reason is that Chris and myself both can’t guard nobody,” Nowitzki said, showing some refreshing blunt honesty. “[Coach Rick Carlisle] wants at least one big guy in there that can block some shots and guard somebody.”

The numbers don’t lie.

Nowitzki and Brand have been on the floor together for 70 minutes, according to NBA.com’s advanced stats. The Mavs have outscored their foes by four during that pair’s playing time. The opponents have scored 99.5 points per 48 minutes.

Nowitzki and Kaman have been on the floor together for 44 minutes. The Mavs have been outscored by 40 during that span. The opponents have scored 118.9 points per 48 minutes.

“We’ve got to be finding ways to be efficient defensively playing together,” Nowitzki said. “E.B. and I have been playing well together. So we’ll see how the minutes mix out. But I’m looking forward to playing with either.”