Waiters Should Be Good To Go For Mavs

By Randy Renner

These days the Thunder injury report seems to be about the most important thing going, with four prominent names on the list.

The good news from Tuesday's Thunder practice is that no additional names have been added, most specifically Dion Waiters' name.

"He sat out practice today but he has just a little soreness, everything is fine," coach Scott Brooks told reporters. "With yesterday's off day and today's off day for him he's gonna be fine for tomorrow."

Waiters had an MRI on Monday to make sure the pain he's been having for the last few days isn't the result of some structural damage to his foot. Those tests came back clear so it's primarily a matter of getting some rest.

The Thunder can't afford any more injuries with forwards Kevin Durant, Serge Ibaka and Nick Collison already out along with guard Andre Roberson.

Durant had his third foot surgery earlier in the day Tuesday to repair ongoing issues with the Jones fracture in his right foot. He was given a bone graft to try to finish up the healing process and will be out four to six months.

Ibaka is recovering from arthroscopic surgery on his right knee. He was out on the practice floor for a little while Tuesday but mainly just to shoot a few free throws. Collison and Roberson are dealing with severe ankle sprains. All three men are expected to be out the rest of the regular season but hope lingers that some of all of them could be back for the first round of the playoffs.

"They're all just going through the regular rehab process of getting back on the court," Brooks said.

The absence of those men will make the task of guarding Dirk Nowitzki, Chandler Parsons and Tyson Chandler that much more difficult.

Thunder center Steven Adams will likely get a crack at trying to slow down Nowitzki after doing a decent job on the Suns Markieff Morris in the second half on Sunday night.

"He's gonna have a tough matchup tomorrow, Dirk is one of the best shooting fours in the league and he knows all the tricks and does a good job with all his setups," Brooks said. "It's just a learning process that he's gonna have to continue to go through, but one thing about Steven, he's gonna compete."

Adams is ready to embrace the role.

"It's not just Nowitzki, you just have to make sure our (defensive) shell is in tact and that we understand their personnel, that's the biggest thing for Dallas," Adams said. "You have to understand their personnel because they rely on you making a mistake."

Enes Kanter made a key one against Dallas the last time the teams played. He'd been guarding Nowitzki but switched onto Rajon Rondo late in the game when Rondo was open in the corner. As soon as Kanter came over Rondo, who is not a very good 3-point shooter, passed the ball back to to a then wide-open Nowitzki and he drained a 3-pointer.

Parsons also killed the Thunder that night so both those guys will be a main focus of the Thunder defense and OKC coaches will send a lot of bodies at them at different times during the game.

"We're gonna have to guard 'em by committee, they put you in a lot of tough positions," Brooks admitted. 

But the situation is what it is and like Brooks has said before, no one on the other side is feeling sorry for the Thunder and their injury problems and all the different strings Brooks and his staff will have to pull to figure out how to defend Dallas without the some of the players who are the best at doing that.

"Those are the things we're just gonna have to keep working through, I'm gonna lose my hair but being bald is in style." he joked.

You might as well joke, heck you might as well laugh. It beats crying.