Dirk Nowitzki and the Dallas Mavericks head into the 2010-11 season with a chip on their shoulder. After claiming the second seed in the ultra-competitive Western Conference, the Mavericks found themselves suffering another first round defeat, this time at the hands of their Texas neighbors, the San Antonio Spurs.
Why, after having the second-most wins during the past ten years, would Dallas be considered a "Dark Horse" for the championship?
Miami in 2006.
Golden State in 2007.
New Orleans in 2008.
Denver in 2009.
And, finally, San Antonio in 2010.
While the team has been a regular season winning machine, their success in the Playoffs seems to have ended with that ill-fated Finals against Dwyane Wade and Shaquille O'Neal.
The Mavericks are now the NBA's best team at choking when it matters (LeBron's in Miami, now, so the Cavaliers don't count).
That more than qualifies them for "Dark Horse" status, but how could anyone, in their right mind, think they could turn it around and win it all?
Here are five reasons.