DALLAS (AP) — Dirk Nowitzki's fever is gone.
The Mavericks star said "I feel great" as he took the court for a shootaround about eight hours before Game 5 of the NBA finals. He declared himself over the worst effects of a sinus infection he played through in Game 4.
Nowitzki said these infections crop up from time to time, and it's the fever that always causes him the most trouble. The coughing, wheezing and sniffling, some of which were still evident Thursday, are just "something you play through," he said.
The Mavs and Heat were tied 2-2 going into the final game in Dallas, "so it's still wide open," Nowitzki said.
The Mavericks have yet to lead in the series, but they've also pulled out games in the fourth quarter to avoid deficits of 0-2 and 3-1. Nowitzki hopes they can avoid being down 3-2 when the series shifts to Miami.
"This is what the finals is all about — every game is big," he said. "You don't want to give them two chances to close it out at home, so this is our Game 7 here. (It's) the last home game for this year in this building, so it should be a great atmosphere and hopefully we can pull it out."
Nowitzki is averaging 26.5 points this series and has produced 49 percent of the Mavericks' fourth-quarter points, despite having torn a tendon at the tip of his left middle finger in the opener. He scored 21 points in Game 4, his lowest of the series.
"He's feeling better, which is important," coach Rick Carlisle said. "That's a plus for us. We got a couple other guys that are a little banged up. But at this point, you play."
Backup center Brendan Haywood played only three minutes in Game 4 because he aggravated a right hip injury. Carlisle said it would be a game-time decision whether he is active.
Shawn Marion dismissed any problems with a calf injury he sustained in Game 4.
"Everybody is beat up at this point," Nowitzki said. "This is June, and we've been playing eight, nine months of competitive basketball. So we've got to grind it out. We've got a week left or something in the season. Hopefully we can win the NBA championship, which obviously you don't get enough chances to play at this stage."