The Dallas Mavericks Have Done It: I'm Optimistic Again

robert aSenior Analyst IApril 16, 2009

SAN ANTONIO - MAY 22:  Dirk Nowitzki #41 of the Dallas Mavericks celebrates the Mavericks' 119-111 overtime win against the San Antonio Spurs in Game Seven of the Western Conference Semifinals during the 2006 NBA Playoffs May 22, 2006 at AT&T Center in San Antonio, Texas. With the win the Mavs advance to the Western Conference Finals. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

Just a couple of weeks ago, I was ready to write this Dallas Mavericks team off.

I wanted to crawl under a rock, suck my thumb, and lament to the basketball gods for the poor fortune that my little sports soul has been forced to endure over the past several years.

I was tired of getting my hopes up, only to have them let right back down. I was tired of watching my Mavs lose games I knew they should have won. My team was in the middle of a tailspin, looked ready to bow out of the playoff race completely, and I...was...done.

No longer would I let myself get excited about this Mavs team. It was time to accept that they just no longer had what it takes to be great, and let that be that.

Would I still watch the games? Absolutely. Would I still cheer, scream, and yell for my team? To the detriment of my neighbors' sanity, of course I would.

But no matter what might happen—and in order to protect my already broken sports heart—I decided then that I would not, could not, and must not get my hopes up again.

And it has worked. Until now.

When you're a homer, you're a homer, no matter how hard you try to be a realist. And as I sit here today, typing away, I cannot help but feel optimistic that these Mavs could do a little damage in these playoffs.

Now I am not predicting a Finals run, and I'm certainly not going to predict a Championship. However, for the first time in a long time, I think that the Mavericks not only could, but should get back out of the first round.

And if that happens? Who knows what could happen next.

Certainly, nobody expected the fourth-seeded '06 Mavs to power through both the Phoenix Suns and defending champion San Antonio Spurs to make it to the NBA Finals for the first time.

So why not this year?

Up first, we've got the Spurs. A bitter rival with a less-than-fully healthy Duncan, Ginobili on the bench, and a team that we split the season series with.

It is not out of question to predict, or even expect, a Mavs win in that series, particularly if the Mavs can continue to play the way they have to end the season.

After that, we can just see where the wind blows them. Anything can happen when a team with talent—and with a superstar like Dirk—gains a little confidence and swagger that they previously lacked.

What better way to gain said confidence than with a win over their hated rivals.

I am predicting the Mavs take care of the Spurs. Past that, it is anyone's guess as to what might happen, and my hopes still aren't too high.

Regardless, I am just thankful that the Mavs have given me reason to hope again, even if only a little.