Credit: Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports
The Dallas Mavericks are where they want to be with three games remaining.
Sitting at 48-31 and their magic number at two, they’re in a position where they won’t need to count on for “help” from opposing teams.
The Mavericks finally control their own destiny.
All that remains on the 82 game schedule are the San Antonio Spurs, Phoenix Suns, and Memphis Grizzlies.
The three will impose different challenges. They’ll test the Mavericks resolve. They’ll show us who the Mavericks truly are.
The first test will be facing the “Big Brother” Spurs. Not only are they the NBA’s best, they also have OWNED the Mavericks over the last two seasons, winning all seven match ups to this point.
Even with the absence of Tony Parker, this will still be a game that will tell us if the Mavericks belong. Can they compete with one of the NBA’s upper echelon? Or, will they leave the gym with their heads down once again?
After the Spurs — if the Mavericks weren’t already in playoff mode — it will be playoff basketball. It’ll be life or death against the Suns and Grizzlies. Two teams that want what the Mavericks have. Two teams that want to be where the Mavericks are.
If the stakes weren’t high enough just for a playoff berth, NO-ONE wants to settle at eight and head to San Antonio. These teams won’t just be fighting to get in, they’ll be fighting to climb to seven; where they’ll take on the lesser of the evils, also known as the Oklahoma City Thunder or possible longshot, Los Angeles Clippers.
The Mavericks will have the target on their back. A first since 2011.
No denying the desperate Grizzlies will look to break the Mavericks with their physical style. No doubt the hungry Suns will be looking to run, gun, and scrap like they never have all season.
Will the Mavericks show fight and hit back? Will they show that they can defend what they’ve worked so hard for? Will they prove they aren’t to be taken lightly?
Will we see a team that will wave the white flag? Will they settle for just getting this far? We this team crumble under the pressure?
After all, it’s easy to be excited about a playoff berth, especially considering that this team won just 41 games last season. However, Dirk Nowitzki, Rick Carlisle, and Mark Cuban will note that just getting there isn’t enough.
They can can show that in these final three games.
They can prove this team can compete. Prove the dismantling of the 2011 Championship team was the right decision. Prove the Mavericks are to be acknowledged with the NBA’s best. Just as importantly, prove that Nowitzki’s final seasons will not be wasted in the NBA’s cellar.
They now have control of their fate. From here on out, the Mavericks will decide how far they want to go this season.