Dirk Nowitzki has had a special career as one of the best international players to play in the NBA. And as part of his 31 points on Wednesday night, Nowitzki passed John Havlicek for 12th place on the NBA’s all-time scoring list. While that is an accomplishment in itself, the more reassuring news may be that the Mavs got the win against Utah and they are also 6-4 in their last 10. Their 39-27 record currently has them in the eighth seed in the West, which would make them a seriously tough matchup for any team they eventually get matched up against.
Unlike Phoenix and Minnesota, who currently look like the only two other teams outside of the top-8 that might be able to catch Dallas, the Mavs have championship experience and are led by one of the most consistent players in NBA history. With his 12-14 shooting performance from the field, including 4-4 from downtown, Dirk is one of those players that can get hot and win games on his own. And while he does get a bit of help from the likes of Monte Ellis, Vince Carter and even Jose Calderon, Dirk has shown that he can carry the load. That is not something that Portland, Oklahoma City, Houston, San Antonio, the Clippers or any other team would want to have to deal with in the first round, especially considering the Mavs were the last team to win the NBA Championship without guys named LeBron James or Dewayne Wade on their team.
Dallas can really use the rest of March to gauge where they are at as a team. And with as many home games as they have, they certainly have the odds in their favor. After they play the Thunder on Sunday in Oklahoma City, the Mavs will return home where they’ll play eight games in a row, including seven in the month of March. First it will be the Celtics, followed by the Timberwolves, Nuggets, Nets, Thunder, Clippers and Kings. That is a good mix of teams that will push them, as well as teams they should push over if they want to prove they belong in the playoffs.
Keep a close eye on the Mavs for the remainder of the season as they look to get into the postseason and at Sportspicks.com for the handicapper insight as to how they are projected to do.
The other great Western Conference game that was on Wednesday night was between the Spurs and the Trail Blazers. Despite the Blazers winning the first two games of the season when these teams met, the Spurs were able to edge out a 111-109 victory on February 19th and get a much more convincing 103-90 win on Wednesday.
The Spurs are yet to lose in the month of March and are now riding an eight game winning streak. Oh yeah, and they’ve won 11 of their last 12. But it doesn’t stop there either, three of the last four games for the Spurs have been against Miami, Chicago and now Portland; all of which are expected to be playoff teams. If they play like they have been, we could be looking at another Spurs run that proves that this team is drinking from the fountain of youth, rather than Gatorade bottles on the sidelines.
In the win on Wednesday, it was an even-keeled effort from everyone on the Spurs. Patty Mills came off the bench and led the team with 15 points, while Danny Green put in 14, Manu Ginobili scored 13 and Kawhi Leonard and Thiago Splitter both added 12. Unlike some other teams in the league that you have to question how well they’d do if their star player goes down, the Spurs are only proving that they may just be one of the deepest teams in the entire league, even if that depth consists of the oldest average age of players in the NBA.
The Spurs have a few easier games coming up. They will play the Lakers on Friday, which obviously won’t have the same type of allure or intensity that this matchup would have if the Lakers were any good. They’ll then play the Jazz, followed by the Lakers again and then Sacramento. On March 22 they’ll play Golden State, which could be interesting considering where these teams line up in the standings. If either team was to shift a few spots one way or another, we could be looking at a Spurs and Warriors first-round matchup. But before we get ahead of ourselves to that game, the Spurs will need to show that not only can they beat the teams that push them to their best, but they’ll also have to beat these lower tier teams as well. And the more momentum they can get the bigger of a lead they’ll keep ahead of Oklahoma City and other teams in the West.