For a few weeks, it looked as though the Dallas Mavericks would win an ugly playoff berth, go in as the eighth seed in the west and face the Lakers in what would be a daunting first round series. But one can never be too sure when it comes to these Mavericks.
Because the Mavericks -- winners of three of their last four and fresh off a 140-116 beat-down of the Suns on Sunday at American Airlines Center -- are, kind of, right where they want to be.
The team will begin its final stretch of the regular season on Wednesday night when they take on Utah in Dallas. The game will mark the beginning of a run for Dallas, during which they will play four teams who sit ahead of them in the Western Conference standings.
Of course, this will be a challenge for a team who has struggled to find consistency this season, but at least it’s a welcome one.
Dirk Nowitzki said, "I always felt like I played my best playoff series if right before in the last month we played hard, had something to play for, played for seedings. ... So I'm looking forward to another great five games, then leave it all out there and see what happens."
It should be interesting to say the least. Dallas is only a game back of Utah, and while that eighth spot is all but clinched (and will be with a win on Weds.) the team would do well to avoid that first round date with the Lakers by moving up in the seeding.
The Mavericks have lost both of their meetings with Denver this season, albeit by a combined four points, and San Antonio just learned that they will be without Manu Ginobli for the rest of the year.
Dallas has been vocal in their belief that no one (except, maybe L.A.) wants to see them in the playoffs. And why would they? Dallas seems to be the unpredictable, shifty-eyed dog in this fight, capable of routing you or folding like a house of cards on any given night. A strong finish, as history has taught us, can go a long way in shaping the team you see in the playoffs.
As Jason Kidd said, by the time the playoffs begin in a few weeks, the Mavericks will be “battle-tested.”
It’s true. The question of just who these Mavericks truly are has been a legitimate one all season long.
It appears that in these last five games, we’ll (finally) get a pretty good idea.