Dirk Nowitzki went on record with ESPN this week saying, “I haven’t seen one team in the West that I’m scared of. I really haven’t.” Big words coming from a team tied for 6th place in the West. Dirk might not be scared of the teams in the Western Conference, but he also can’t beat them. Dallas isn’t even a lock for the play-offs in a lot of people’s minds. Heck, they started the season 0-3 and haven’t looked much more impressive since with an 11-8 record.
Dirk’s numbers have been especially paltry. He’s only averaging 17 points and 5 rebounds on the season. What happened to the unstoppable low-post player who could drain a 3-pointer in the time it takes Bruno Mars to drop another #1 hit? Did he get lost celebrating his 2010-2011 NBA championship with steins of Hefeweizen in Germany’s Black Forest over the summer? Maybe he’s just warming up you wonder? Nope, he’s actually taking the week off from games because his knee is sore and he needs to get himself into better game conditioning.
Owner Mark Cuban isn’t concerned with the slow start and says it’s all about the play-offs. Cuban believes all the Mavs have to do is make the play-offs and they’ll be fine. It’s good to see management setting the bar high. When’s the last time a championship team was aiming for simply making the play-offs the following year? The reality check for Cuban and the Mavs may be that the Mavs will struggle to even accomplish this meager of a goal.
The shortened season favors younger teams. Currently, the Mavs are the oldest team in the NBA and it shows. The condensed schedule only highlights veteran player’s inability to bounce back after games and piles the wear and tear up on aging joints. This combined with poor off-season conditioning have the Mavs languishing in Western Conference mediocrity. They might not be scared of the West, but in all candor the West isn’t really worried about them either.
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