Dirk Nowitzki may sit this weekend

DALLAS -- All-Star forward Dirk Nowitzki plans to travel with the Dallas Mavericks on this weekend's road trip, but it's questionable that he'll play against the Milwaukee Bucks or Cleveland Cavaliers.

But Nowitzki, who missed the last two games with a mild sprain of his right knee, is confident that he'll be ready to return next week.

"It's already better than it was two days ago, but it wasn't good enough to play today," Nowitzki said during the TNT broadcast of Thursday night's loss to the San Antonio Spurs. "I would have loved to have been out here in front of this crowd, but unfortunately it didn't work. Maybe this weekend, maybe early next week, that's what I'm looking at."

The Mavericks (24-7) have lost both games without their MVP candidate, falling 3½ games behind the Spurs in the Western Conference standings. However, the Mavericks won't put Nowitzki at risk by rushing him back before he's ready. They will err on the side of patience and caution.

"Dirk is smart about his body," owner Mark Cuban said before Thursday's game. "He'll let us know. The MRIs will let us know. The doctors know what's at stake, so I'm not worried about it. We have a great medical staff, we have a great training staff. We'll do the right thing."

Tim MacMahon covers the Mavericks for ESPN Dallas. You can follow him on Twitter.