Dirk Nowitzki has a pretty good handle on the team he still anchors. He knows the prevailing wisdom is that the playoffs are a goner, although he and his Maverick mates prefer to think otherwise. And given the state of the Western Conference, which is relatively average beyond the top four or five teams, the race for the playoffs is probably too close to call. But still, Nowitzki knows the situation. And he's not going to blow sunshine when the storm clouds are evident. "We're right there, but we're not," Nowitzki said. "If you [can't] find ways to win, then you don't belong in the playoffs. You've got to find ways to win at least half of those close games, or more than that. In this league, the good teams and the bad teams are only separated by a little bit." The Mavericks took a breather Saturday in the Valley of the Sun. They have played the last two games without Nowitzki, whose status for Monday's visit to Oklahoma City is in question because of a strained right adductor muscle. The win over Phoenix on Friday was a morale booster, although perseverance is showing up as one of this team's best assets. Through some head-banging losses, they have not had any games recently where they simply didn't show up. "Our morale's good anyway," coach Rick Carlisle said when asked if the win at Phoenix was a pick-me-up. "We don't like losing games. But we keep working. That's the way we do business." "We've had our fair share of [gut]-busters this year already," Nowitzki said. "We watched a lot of film. We analyzed all the little mistakes. "Coach is going to keep on pushing and teaching, and we'll see if we can turn it around and win some of those."