The Mavericks won’t touch the Larry O’ Brien trophy this year. Period.
Their 13 game winning streak meant nothing. Of the 13 teams they played, only four had winning records, and only two of those were on the road. Dallas took advantage of a particularly weak stretch in their schedule, nothing more.
Besides, hasn’t history taught us enough about this team?
The franchise’s debut in the 2006 NBA Finals saw them take a two and three-quarters game lead over the Heat before their double digit lead in the waning minutes of game three's fourth quarter evaporated and they simply collapsed.
The following year the Mavericks became the first team in the history of the NBA to win more than 63 regular season games and lose in the first round of the playoffs.
Some will say this is all ancient history, that it has no impact on this season whatsoever. I say that the past is the best predictor of the future.
Teams almost never win it all after blowing opportunities as great as the Mavericks have had. Though the Mavericks have shown the ability to win regular-season games, they haven’t shown that they have what it takes to become NBA Champions.
Most teams that I have felt comfortable saying this about were either bereft of talent or heart. For example, the 2005-07 Phoenix Suns had enough talent, but were paper soft, and lacked the fortitude to stand against true contenders. Prior to this year, the Cavaliers never had enough talent outside of LeBron James.
The Mavericks have no such fault.
The Mavericks have a fiery and talented leader in Dirk Nowitzki, a talented supporting cast featuring one of the game’s most potent benches, and are currently in the hunt for the West’s number two seed. That said, you ask why can’t they win?
Firstly, the Mavericks’ track record against either the Lakers or the Nuggets doesn’t exactly inspire confidence. Secondly, they just aren’t good enough. They have the talent to compete, sure, but I don’t see a knockout punch anywhere on that roster.
LeBron James is a knockout punch. Kobe Bryant is a knockout punch. Kevin Garnett was a knockout punch. Shaq was a knockout punch. Tim Duncan was a knockout punch. Dirk Nowitzki is a great player.
That’s why they Mavericks won’t win.
Dirk has not proven to be unstoppable, not when it counted.
The season after his team’s 67 win, first round elimination year, he wasn’t able to return his team to the same level of dominance they enjoyed in the previous regular season or prevent his team from being put out in the first round of the playoffs for the second consecutive year.
He was powerless to prevent the Nuggets from nearly sweeping the Mavericks out of the playoffs last year.
Most importantly, he like everyone else, was a mere spectator when Dwayne Wade went off (albeit with somewhat faulty refereeing) in their previous Finals encounter.
Dirk Nowitzki may be the most talented power forward in the game today, maybe even a top 10 all time player for that position, but can he be the best player on a championship team? History says no. I agree.
Compared to the other elite talents around the league, Dirk is still very good, but like the Mavericks, he’s not quite good enough. That’s why the Mavericks won’t win the championship this year.
I guarantee it.