Dirk Nowitzki's last prolonged injury stint came last year in the heart of season play. The Mavs limped to a pedestrian 4-7 record during that stretch, struggling mightily without their leader.
This year, the Mavs are in a similar predicament, with Dirk missing time because of a knee injury that will sideline him for at least four games.
After absorbing some early-season lumps, the Mavs are currently perched atop the Southwestern Conference. Dallas needs other players to step up during this critical Dirk-less stretch.