Nowitzki expects to face Warriors-type defense in EuroBasket

Special to PA SportsTicker

The Golden State Warriors put the clamps on NBA MVP Dirk Nowitzki in their first-round upset of the Dallas Mavericks in the NBA playoffs. The German power forward expects to face similar defenses at this summer’s EuroBasket in Spain.

Coach Don Nelson’s Warriors gave Nowitzki fits with double teams, and by running at him from behind in their 4-2 series victory in the first round of the Western Conference playoffs.

They held Nowitzki to 38 percent shooting from the floor, including 21 percent from 3-point range - down from 50 percent and 41.5 percent, respectively, from the regular season.

“If teams in Europe double me, too, and attack me from behind, then I’ll have to find a way to still be effective,” Nowitzki said at his annual Nike premier in Frankfurt.

Nowitzki was the first European to be voted as NBA MVP after leading the Mavs to 67 wins during the regular season, but his playoff performance has led to a lot of criticism.

“In nine years in the NBA you learn that you’re the best when you win and a loser when you lose,” he said. “I don’t need any journalists who have never held a ball in his hand and never experienced a similar pressure that I have to tell me that I played poorly. Criticism is part of it all, and it can also motivate you.”

Nowitzki will take some time off to rest before returning to the court for workouts with his long-time friend and personal coach, Holger Geschwinder.

“Once you reach a certain level, you don’t really make any big leaps,” Nowitzki said. “It’s more about small improvements. My defense can be better, but also my center (low post) game.”

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Updated Wednesday, May 23, 2007