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Dirk Nowitzki will return from injury Friday vs. the Clippers

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DIRK’S BACK.

NBA: Sacramento Kings at Dallas Mavericks Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Dirk Nowitzki will return from injury in Friday’s game against the Los Angeles Clippers, Rick Carlisle said at the Mavericks’ shootaround on Friday morning.

Carlisle said Nowitzki was “pain-free” after a long workout on Thursday, and he has been cleared to play after missing 14 straight games and 24 of the team’s 29 games this season.

Nowitzki has been dealing with a nagging sore Achilles injury that limited his mobility. He hoped the recovery process would be quicker, saying he was wishing for a recovery process that took days not weeks at the beginning of the month.

The Mavericks are 8-21 with Nowitzki this season, but they’re only four games out of the playoffs thanks to no real contender for the No. 8 seed in the Western Conference emerging so far this year. By all accounts, Dallas is still determined to push for a playoff berth this year, with Mark Cuban talking about how he thinks a tanking culture would be toxic and isn’t necessary for this team.

Nowitzki has only played five games this year, averaging 12 points on 36 percent shooting. He’ll likely bump Dorian Finney-Smith to the bench while he resumes a starting spot in the rotation.