Back in October some of us predicted the Mavericks would win 50 games and make the playoffs. So Saturday night’s victory over the Suns that clinched a return to the postseason isn’t exactly a shocker. But the way they got here – and where they might end up – is a bit surprising.
Continuing a fascinating, frustrating season in which nothing has come easy, the Mavs trailed Phoenix by 13 points in the third quarter Saturday night in American Airlines Center before rallying behind Monta Ellis and Dirk Nowitkzi. Even in the end, Ellis missed two free throws to give the Suns a couple last looks at potentially tying the game.
They missed. The Mavs won. And Dallas is back in the playoffs.
Feels like it’s been forever, no? It was only last season that they missed, but the year before they were swept by the Thunder. So the Mavs haven’t won a playoff game since they clinched their only title in Game 6 of the 2011 NBA Finals. Only two players – Dirk and Shawn Marion – remain from that moment.
Though they have only one game remaining – Wednesday at Memphis – there is still work to be done and a position to be improved. As we said before, as daunting as it will be to face probable MVP Kevin Durant and the Thunder in a first-round series, it’s better than matching up with the best team in the league, the Spurs. San Antonio has beaten Dallas nine straight times; the Mavs have two wins over Oklahoma City in the past month.
To clinch the No. 7 seed – and face the No. 2 Thunder – Dallas needs to be beat the Grizzlies Wednesday or have Memphis lose to the Suns in Phoenix tonight.
The Mavs didn’t pop any corks Saturday night, but let’s admit it: Spring feels fresher, the birds are a little chirpier and life is better when the Mavs are in the playoffs.
A native Texan who was born in Duncanville and graduated from UT-Arlington, Richie Whitt has been a mainstay in the Metroplex media since 1986. He’s held prominent roles on all media platforms including newspaper (Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Dallas Observer), radio (105.3 The Fan) and TV (co-host on TXA 21 and numerous guest appearances, including NBC 5). He currently lives in McKinney with his wife, Sybil, and two very spoiled dogs.