Nuggets at Dallas: Nuggets take on Dirk Nowitzki, Mavericks in second-to-last road game of season

Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Even though they've been eliminated from playoff contention this year, Dirk Nowitzki and the Dallas Mavericks are going to put up a fight.

2012/2013 NBA Regular Season: Game 79

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54-24 (18-21 on the road)
2-0 DEN
38-40 (22-16 at home)
April 12th, 2013 - 6:30 PM (MT)
American Airlines Center - Dallas, TX
Altitude / ESPN / 950 AM / 104.3 FM The Fan
Probable Starters
Andre Miller PG Mike James
Andre Iguodala SG O.J. Mayo
Wilson Chandler SF Shawn Marion
Kenneth Faried PF Dirk Nowitzki
Kosta Koufos C Chris Kaman
Notes
You're here! Blogs Mavs Moneyball
Danilo Gallinari (torn ACL, out), Ty Lawson (foot, questionable) unlikely Injuries Elton Brand (calf, questionable), Rodrigue Beaubois (hand, out for season)
Nuggets have reached the playoffs a franchise record 10 straight seasons Stat The Mavericks will miss the playoffs for the first time since 2000

"I don't want to mail it in."

While this might be the end for the 2012-2013 Mavericks, Dirk's refusing to simply go quietly without a fight.

"I want to play hard and hopefully win some. I think a winning season would be nice for this tough, up-and-down season, so that's what we're going for."

Not the words of a man simply prepared to give up on his team, knowing that they won't be playing for the gold ball in the postseason. Even after knee surgery that forced him to miss the first 27 games of this season, Dirk remains the quintessential competitor - he led the Mavericks to the franchise's first Finals appearance in 2006 and their eventual first championship in 2011. He should be especially motivated against a Denver Nuggets team that essentially ended the Mavericks' postseason hopes just over a week ago.

Even though the Nuggets managed to win that game on a last second shot by Andre Iguodala, they paid a heavy price, losing Danilo Gallinari's services for at least the next 8 months due to an ACL tear in his left knee. The Mavericks gave the Nuggets everything they could handle, but somehow, the Nuggets managed to grit out a victory on the backs of Corey Brewer and Iguodala. Both Brewer and Iguodala have elevated their play in a major way since Gallinari's and Ty Lawson's injuries, and they'll need to continue to so in order for this team to guarantee itself home court advantage.

While I'm sure that Dirk will maintain his consistently excellent level of play, O.J. Mayo will be good for a few ridiculous three pointers and more than a few boneheaded turnovers and defensive lapses. Shawn "The Matrix" Marion will have a couple of weird shots and surprisingly athletic rebounds, but will otherwise be invisible. Chris Kaman will abuse the Nuggets on the block, Vince Carter will continue to reinforce his legend as the least clutch human being alive... at this point in the season, we largely know what to expect out of this Mavericks team.

As has been the case for a large part of the second half of the season, the Nuggets will use the overwhelming strength of their bench to put the game away in the second and third quarters. I expect JaVale McGee and Corey Brewer to take advantage of the undersized Dallas frontcourt, but must be on guard against the doughty center Brandan Wright. Wright abused the Nuggets last game on a variety of offensive rebounds and putbacks, posting a team leading 16 points. If the Nuggets can contain him and either Darren Collison or Dirk, I'm confident they'll run away with this game.

Finally, the Nuggets tonight will have the opportunity to set the all-time franchise record regular season win mark at 55. This team knows it is special, and being a part of the first group to set a franchise record has to be motivating. I expect a good effort and a solid win with an eye towards locking up that 3rd seed.

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