Shawn Marion optimistic about return

DALLAS -- Mavericks forward Shawn Marion practiced on Thursday and will travel with the team on its trip to Indiana and Cleveland in hopes of returning to the lineup. Marion has missed the last five games with a sprained left medial collateral ligament and no decision has been made on when he'll return.

It's clear, however, that the 6-foot-7 forward is getting closer. Marion plans on participating in shootaround in Indiana on Friday to see how he feels before determining when he can get back on the court.

"If it feels like I can fight through some stuff, I'm going to give it a shot," he said.

The Mavericks play on consecutive days, so they could decide to hold off and play Marion on Saturday in Cleveland, but they won't make any decisions until Friday morning.

"I don't want to just jump out there and tweak it even more and have to sit out even longer," Marion said. "I want to gauge it. I can play through some pain. I just don't want to be having to favor it too much and be cautious of that at the same time. They are telling me to gauge it on how I feel and my flexibility. I'm getting some of it back. It's not 100 percent, but I can fight through some of that."

Marion was the team's leading rebounder a year ago and is averaging nine rebounds in four games this season. The Mavericks are being outrebounded on average by nearly four per game and could use Marion's presence there and on defense, where opposing small forwards have hurt Dallas in his absence.

Mavericks owner Mark Cuban said Wednesday that he believes Dallas would have won games against Minnesota and Charlotte with a healthy Marion in the lineup.