DeAndre Jordan left the Mavs for dead last summer.
And, admit it, you did the same at a couple points during this season. I know I did.
Maybe it was in October when they went to training camp with three of their projected five starters coming off major injuries. Maybe it was in February when they went only 4-6 on the most favorable stretch of the season (nine of 10 at home).
Perhaps it was in March when they lost 10 out of 12, including book-end defeats to the lowly Kings. For sure it was March 22 with the news that star forward Chandler Parsons was lost for the season with a knee injury, or when point guard Deron Williams was lost for two weeks shortly thereafter with a sports hernia.
But through all the doubt and dread and dips, the Mavericks shut us all up and made the playoffs.
In the clinching win last night in Utah the heroes were Wesley Matthews (whom critics doubted could return from an Achilles injury), Deron Williams (bought out of his contract by the Nets just to get him out of town) and Dirk Nowitzki (yep, even at 37).
Give head coach Rick Carlisle credit for a masterful job down the stretch of the season. With his manpower depleted, he changed his style, slowed the pace and pushed his gritty team to a 7-1 run to clinch a post-season berth.
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Look, there will be plenty of time to dissect the Mavs’ minuscule chances of winning even a single playoff game against the Warriors or Spurs or Thunder. Today is for admiring them for taking a lost season and transforming it into a successful one.
Because of their title in 2011, DFW takes the Mavs for granted. But they’ve now made the playoffs in 15 of the last 16 years. Imagine if the Cowboys or Rangers amassed that sort of a run?
Since beating the Heat five summers ago the Mavs haven’t won a playoff series. And it won’t happen this season. But in this season they exceeded all our expectations and made the playoffs.
“It was a tough season,” Nowitzki said after the 101-92 win over the Jazz clinched at least the 8th seed and perhaps one as high as 5th. “But we've got some guys that are veterans that are tough guys and want to play together and ultimately wanted to make the playoffs, wanted it bad to make a run here. I think not a lot of guys gave us a chance. I saw a lot of websites actually picking us last in the West. I think we took that challenge and made the playoffs in the tough West.”
It’s not worthy of a parade. But definitely our praise.
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 lives in McKinney with his wife, Sybil, and two very spoiled dogs.