For weeks, perhaps months, many have speculated over the Spurs (46-9) and their superb season, thus far. As good as the Spurs have been on the court, the majority of sports commentators and fans have stood their ground on their opinion of the Los Angeles Lakers (38-18) making a comeback towards the end, especially during the playoffs. Has the world become oblivious to the facts of the game and forgotten about who could possibly be the Spurs REAL big threat in the Dallas Mavericks?
The Mavs are currently second in the West (38-16). Yes, they have seven more losses than the Spurs and only two less than the Lakers. Half of their losses though came when forward Dirk Nowitzki injured his knee midseason. Although Dallas has one of the best benches in the league, would they have suffered the blow to their record if Nowitzki was playing? Probably not.
At the beginning of the season, they had 12 consecutive wins. Before Nowitzki’s knee gave in the Mavs were 24-5; the Spurs, on the other hand, were only 26-4. Then, when Nowitzki returned from his injury, the Mavs had a winning streak of 10 consecutive wins.
Interestingly enough, the Mavericks’ first win after Nowitzki’s return was against America’s beloved Lakers. For a team that is believed to make a magical appearance and go for the big win, the Lakers have yet to beat the Spurs or Mavericks this season.
Even more, the Mavericks are one of the few teams that have been able to overcome the Spurs—and it was on the Spurs court at the AT&T Center in San Antonio where they did so. (Granted, the Spurs did beat the Mavericks twice later in the season—but only when Nowitzki was out due to his injury.)
Yes, the West’s teams are known for their dominance in the playoffs and their shocking comebacks, but in the end one of these teams—whether it be the Lakers, Spurs or Mavericks—will have to face off against a team from the East. Chances are it will probably be the Boston Celtics or Miami Heat, since they are the strongest and have the best records right now. Although the Spurs have yet to play against the media-hyped, three-star Heat team, they have already faced off with the Celtics—and it was another team they lost to.
Unless we forget the pedal stool the sports industry put the Lakers on the other night when they beat the Celtics on the road. They gained their title back as a threat and the win was deemed a “statement” in regards to the team’s chance at a three-peat. It was also suggested that the Lakers stay on the road because of their then four wins. (I’m going out on a limb here, but I’m guessing that the suggestion and statement was all taken back when the Lakers lost their last two road games against the Orlando Magic (35-21) and Charlotte Bobcats (24-32)).
The Mavericks, on the other hand, are very dominant and consistent when it comes to road wins. They have beaten the Heat and Celtics each twice, at home and on the road. If nobody else can beat the power in the East, maybe the Mavericks SHOULD go to the Finals, despite their record.
Perhaps it should be broken down more. The Spurs stats in comparison to the Mavericks fall a little short and might cost them any thoughts of a Finals appearance.
While Spurs points leader Manu Ginobili averages 17.9 points per game, Mavs points leader Nowitzki is averaging 22.6. That’s nearly a five-point difference between leaders, so just imagine the difference between the remaining starters. Since their leaders are pretty well matched in the other categories (rebounds, assists, steals and blocks), it will come down to a points game, and with that being said, the Mavs seem to have the upper hand.
It’s fair to say that the Dallas Mavericks are not receiving the attention they deserve as a threat in the West. Regardless of the lack of spotlight now, if Nowitzki can remain in good health—along with the rest of the team—then the Mavericks might give both the Lakers and Spurs a run for the title.