One of the more well-known quotes throughout the sports world reads, "You can't stop him—you can only hope to contain him." However, when it comes to Dirk Nowitzki, apparently no one can contain him either.
The statistics that Nowitzki has compiled this postseason are mind-boggling. In 15 games, he is averaging 28.4 points, 7.5 rebounds and 2.7 assists per game. Additionally, he is shooting 52 percent from the field, 52 percent from three and 93 percent from the free-throw line. Those numbers are downright ridiculous, and he has shown no signs of slowing down.
While Nowitzki has always been a great player, he has really taken his game to another level during the postseason.
So why is it impossible to even contain Nowitzki? Let's take a look.
Nowitzki just might be the most unique player that the NBA has ever seen. Think about it: Of all the players who have played in the league, both past and present, who could you possibly compare Dirk to? It can't be done, because there is no one like him.
Nowitzki stands at 7'0" and weighs 245 pounds, but he doesn't play like a seven-footer. He combines the skills and finesse of a guard with the power and strength of a forward. As a result, he has become one of the most, if not the most, versatile players in the league.
He can't be contained because no other player in the league has all the tools necessary to stop the big man.
Nowitzki has an uncanny ability to hit a number of off-balance or even circus shots when it looks like he has been defended perfectly and has nowhere to go.
Whether he is leaning in, fading away or even fading to the side, Dirk can hit shots from seemingly every angle.
Just when his defender thinks he has finally stopped him, Nowitzki finds a way to nail a backbreaking shot.
One of the reasons defenders are forced to play Nowitzki straight up is the fact that Dirk, when crowded, can put the ball on the floor can get to the rim.
Players with Dirk's size aren't supposed to be able to handle the ball like a point guard, which is exactly what Nowitzki does. When there is no space for him to spot up for a shot, he can use that ability to move the defense and create open shots for his teammates, pull up for his own shot or take the ball hard to the basket, oftentimes earning himself a trip to the free-throw line.
Not only can Nowitzki score while facing the basket, but he is just as lethal when his back is to the basket. He is very good at getting position, and with his height he has little problems getting off an uncontested turnaround jumper.
A fadeaway jump shot by Dirk is one of the prettiest things to watch in basketball.
Nowtzki's dominance doesn't just take place inside the arc; he is a very good three-point shooter as well.
Although he is only attempting about two three-pointers per game during the playoffs, he has shown the ability throughout his career to hit shots from anywhere on the floor, including when he is behind the arc.
You just don't see players with his size also have the shooting touch that he does.
As I mentioned before, Nowitzki is shooting 93 percent from the line during the postseason, including going 24-of-24 from the line in the Mavericks' Game 1 victory over the Thunder.
Teams continue to put Dirk on the line, and he continues to make them pay.
Earlier in his career, one of the knocks on Nowitzki was that he wasn't "tough" enough or that he wasn't able to deliver in the clutch.
But these days, you can no longer say that about Dirk.
He has been at his best when the game is on the line. In Game 4 against the Thunder, the Mavericks were down 15 points with just five minutes remaining, and it seemed like a lock that the series would be returning to Dallas all knotted up at two games apiece.
However, Nowitzki led the Mavericks on a 17-2 run, scoring 12 points and leading the Mavs into overtime. They ended up winning the game and never looked back from there.
Dirk had two games of 40 points or more in the Thunder series alone and has been lights out in the clutch.
The Dallas Mavericks are Dirk Nowitzki's team. No questions asked.
When the game is on the line, Nowitzki demands the ball, puts the team on his shoulders and usually delivers. He is an excellent leader and has a will to win that is matched by few others.
He simply has been a joy to watch.