In addition to shooting down claims that he was out of shape to start the year, Dirk Nowitzki tells the media that the defending champion Dallas Mavericks have nothing to fear in their conference. From ESPN: “I haven’t seen one team in the West that I’m scared of,’ Nowitzki said. ‘I really haven’t. I think we can compete with all of them. Oklahoma City has probably the best record, but I think we’ve played them well every time we’ve seen them and everybody else has been up and down.’ […] Dallas is 11-8 and tied with the Los Angeles Lakers and Portland Trail Blazers for sixth in the West despite Nowitzki’s early-season woes. After struggling, by his standards, for 16 games, Nowitzki will sit out his fourth consecutive game Friday night against the Utah Jazz, taking a week to go through a personal training camp and strengthen his sore right knee. The Mavs are the league’s oldest team and anticipate ebbs and flows to a lockout-shortened, 66-game regular season. They aren’t concerned about playoff seeding as long as they qualify. Their priority is to be as rested, fresh and ready to peak once the postseason begins. ‘All we have to do is keep working and hopefully keep everyone healthy and be there when it counts and in the playoffs,’ said Nowitzki, who hopes to return Sunday against the rival San Antonio Spurs. ‘But I’m not scared of seeing anyone I’ve seen.’”
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