Dallas Mavericks

In Dirk We Trust?

Simple: Do you trust Dirk Nowitzki?

In the final seconds? In tonight's Game 3? In the series against the San Antonio Spurs?

To get him more room - more open looks - the Dallas Mavericks must push the pace at Amercian Airlines Center. One of the toughest things in the NBA the last decade is to try to run a half-court offense against the Spurs' vaunted defense. Attempting to beat the Spurs at their game is a dumber idea than building a convention center hotel in downtown Dallas.

Playing up-tempo might result in a turnover or two, but if it helps Dallas get off a shot - or 6 or 7 - against San Antonio's scramble mode, it's worth it. And since the Spurs are doubling Dirk on the pass in half-court sets, he's got to think quicker, react more efficiently and be, well, better.

But will he?

I know Jason Terry is the NBA's Sixth Man of the Year this season, but Nowitzki is a no-brainer Hall of Famer. By far the best player in franchise history. Option 1 and 1a with the game on the line.

But, as his critics are quick to point out, his playoff performances can be sketchy. His career post-season averages of 25 points and 10 rebounds are lofty, but there's also the missed free throw in Game 3 against Miami in '06 and the MVP disappearing act against Golden State in '07.  

In Games 1 and 2 against the Spurs, he has managed only a combined 33 points . If he doesn't score at least 30 in Game 3, the Mavs will fall in a 2-1 hole.

Tonight we might get the Dirk who went 2 of 13 in Golden State in '07. But, fingers crossed, we just might also get the Dirk who dropped 50 on Phoenix in '06.

After all, isn't Victory Park owned by the Germans?

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Richie Whitt
Contact: Richie Whitt