"We've banded together. We're battle tested. We're playoff ready. I keep saying it, but the best is yet to come."—Jason Terry
Jason Terry announced those words shortly after the Dallas Mavericks’ 11-point win over Houston on Wednesday night. The win propelled Dallas into the sixth seed in the West, and a date with those shiftless rascals, the San Antonio Spurs.
That’s encouraging, as it was, for all intents and purposes, unthinkable only a few weeks ago. What else is encouraging, possibly more so, in fact, is that what Jason Terry said is (at least ¾) patently true. Of course, that fourth bit remains to be seen, but there’s no reason to think it won’t come to fruition.
Dallas is, most likely, peaking at the right time after what is generally seen as a rough season. But winning seven of their last nine, Dallas is also right where they want to be, (historically anyway) at 50-32.
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Admittedly, this record isn’t indicative of an NBA Champion; but it’s not all that far off.
Disregarding Boston, in 2007-2008 (they dismantled just about everyone), the last five (5) NBA Champs have had regular season win totals under sixty. San Antonio has the best record of this group, with a 59-23 mark in 04-05. The Miami Heat (You may remember them) were 53-29 when they won in 05-06.
But if the Mavericks record seems unimpressive, it’s because it is; at least, by Dallas’ standards of late. Mavericks’ fans have seen a glut in regular season win totals recently that would be really impressive if the team had any rings to show for it.
Dallas was 51-31 in 2007-2008, a generally down, uninspired year; but the team averaged just north of sixty wins in each of the three years before that. This includes the 2006-07 team that is a study in premature peaking, as they were bounced by Golden State in the first round after posting a 67-15 regular season record.
The point here is that in professional sports, particularly in basketball, peaking at the right time is absolutely crucial; nine times out of ten, in all likelihood, the 05-06 Dallas Mavericks would beat the 05-06 Miami Heat in a seven-game series; but that doesn’t matter, of course.
Miami peaked in the finals; Dallas peaked in that inexplicably early series with San Antonio.
Heading into a playoff series against the Ginobli-less Spurs and a slew of teams with better regular season records, it’s enough to wonder if the sixth seed isn’t right where the Mavericks want to be.
It’s enough to wonder if the best really is yet to come.