Teammates have indicated Howard has looked sharp in recent practices, but Jason Terry offered the clearest sign of Howard’s imminent return after Monday’s practice at the Target Center. “He looked great,” Terry said. “Even last week, he was good in our last hard practice. He looked confident.
“I know he felt a little bit of pain, but the biggest test will be tomorrow,” he said, referring to tonight’s game against Minnesota. “If he hits that first shot, I’ll bet he won’t feel a thing tomorrow.”
That’s the best news the Mavericks have gotten in about a week. Howard’s left ankle problem is severe enough that off-season surgery is possible. Physically and mentally, he appears to be on the upswing, and the Mavericks desperately need him if they hope to keep their slim hopes of moving up in the Western Conference seedings.
Don’t expect to be blown away tonight, but I’m keeping my fingers crossed that this could be the beginning (resuming?) of something beautiful to close out the season. ‘Beat the Lakers’ beautiful? Whoa, now. One step at a time, eh chaps?
Sefko also had this quote from Jason Kidd on the DMN Mavs Blog:
“Just try to get him an easy shot, a wide-open shot the first go-round,” Kidd said of the game plan for the early moments of tonight’s game. “We’d like to get him an easy one going to the basket. Should that not happen, maybe just make sure it’s not a stressful shot.”
We knew Josh Howard was an emotional player, but is his night really so easily dictated by the fate of that first shot? Theoretically, all shots are created equal. I’m a strong advocate of game flow, and push the idea that things like confidence level and mindset are sometimes just as impactful as the quality of a defender. The idea that Howard is a highly emotional player is hardly new, but to hear both Kidd and Terry make a specific mention of getting Howard a good look to start out the game just seems a bit odd. Or maybe, it speaks volumes about just how vulnerable players can be to the emotional ebb and flow of a game.