The Dallas Mavericks are on the path to the playoffs. Their front office, head coach, and players were all on the same page all season long and now there are only four games remaining on their regular season schedule. This was a team with veterans unified with the goal of being a team that not just makes the playoffs, but can win a series or two while there. Anything can happen when you have one of the best players in the history of the game on your team, in Dirk Nowitzki. Standing in their way are their last three games -- at home against the #1 seed San Antonio Spurs, then a game two nights later at home against the Phoenix Suns. And then a final game, a road game, against the Memphis Grizzlies. The Suns and Grizzlies are both right in the thick of things in terms of the playoffs as well. And the Spurs will give them no quarter. Dallas will fight though hell and back to make the playoffs, and their schedule intends to send them there.
But before that we have the last game of their four game road trip (wins @ Clippers, @ Lakers, and @ Kings) -- facing the Utah Jazz. Our Utah Jazz. Our fractured Jazz with a fractured decision making scheme and even more fractured fan base. The Jazz have 24 wins this season, basically half of what the Mavs have. We have no stars. No unified direction. And we're no where near ready for the playoffs. And as a result, we're the ultimate trap game. If you add in the point that the Jazz are still trying to win, instead of focusing on maximizing their expected returns from the lottery they clinched a month ago, then you have a cause for worry.
There's no way the Jazz should win tonight. Yes, Dallas is playing the last game in a road trip and will be without Gal Mekel (the world beater) -- but to counter that Brandon Rush should be out. And even better, Marvin Williams has a bone bruise in his left knee and he is questionable for tonight. I'm sure the Jazz PR will call it a game time decision though. In reality though, both teams are just about as healthy as one another, and just about as rested as one another. No one played last night because of the NCAA Championship game.
And both teams are at the part of the season where everyone is a little banged up and everyone is cutting practices for R&R. Utah is the home team, but Dallas has demonstrated quite the ability to win -- they are 20-17 on the road this year. For the record, that's better than our home record of 16-22. Historically Utah has handled Dallas, 89-65 overall, and 58-19 in Utah. But tonight I don't think the Jazz get that 90th win.
They shouldn't at least. Not on paper when you look at the talent they have and the direction they are heading in.
But shouldn't doesn't always become wasn't. This is still a trap game, we're hungry, young, and at home. There's nothing to lose. And Dallas had a cream schedule in their last two games against the Lakers and Kings. Can they complete the "bottom of the West" triple-play with a win tonight?
For our sake I hope so.