Ronald Martinez/Getty Images
Dirk Nowitzki had knee surgery on October 19 and was expected to miss at least six weeks from that point.
A complete six weeks would put the return at at November 30 (Dallas' closest game after that date is December 1 vs. Detroit), but considering the lack of progress Nowitzki's knee seems to be making, it makes sense for that date to be pushed back.
The Mavs will not want to rush Dirk back when they will absolutely need him at 100 percent all season long if they are going to make the playoffs in the Western Conference.
From December 5-8, the Mavericks will play a three-game road trip against the Clippers, Suns and Rockets, and it seems unlikely DIrk would make his return when the team is away from home.
That sets Dirk's approximate return date at December 10 at home against Sacramento.
The Mavericks will have played a fourth of their season (20 games) by that point in time. They have split their first eight games, and it seems likely they will remain around .500 by the time he gets back.
In that 12-game stretch between now and December 10, the Mavs have home games versus Washington, Golden State, New York, the Lakers and Detroit. They have road games against Indiana, Cleveland, Philadelphia, Chicago, the Clippers, Phoenix and Houston.
Sparing you my pick of each specific game, Dallas should go around 6-6 in that stretch if it continues to be as inconsistent as it has been thus far.
Some nights, this Mavs team looks like they could beat any NBA team, while on others, they seem like a bottom-of-the-barrel Western Conference squad.
If they manage 10-10 without Dirk, it has to be considered a small success. Still, when he does come back, the team will have to kick it into gear to ensure it doesn't fall too far behind the pack out West before it gets too late.