To the 2013-14 Dallas Mavericks: Take a bow.
You deserve it.
Never mind the fact that Game 7 ended in about the worst possible way for the Mavs. Forget the fact that, for another year, the consensus among NBA viewers is that Dirk Nowitzki needs more help in order to get back to championship contention.
But for a few months, take this all in. Rejoice in the fact that you gave Dallas fans some of the most heart-attack-enducing moments they could have ever gone through.
Most importantly, be happy that you proved everyone wrong when no one else gave you a chance.
It’s great to continuously bring this up: 19 of 20 ESPN analysts picked the San Antonio Spurs to eliminate the Mavs in five games or less. Only one of them had the Spurs in six games. Not even myself, or perhaps a large chunk of the city of Dallas, had the Mavs coming within inches of pulling off, arguably, the most colossal upset in NBA playoff history.
If not for a seven-minute stint in Game 1, or DeJuan Blair getting ejected late in Game 4 and not allowed to play in Game 5, who knows what the outcome of the series would’ve been? Dallas could’ve upset the Spurs in five games, maybe six. It’s fun to speculate now that they’re actually eliminated from the playoffs.
But speculation is like illusions. It’s meant to make you dream. The only thing the Mavs can do now is dream about what would’ve happened had they closed those games out. Dallas would be in Portland right now, ready for another thrilling seven-game series against the Portland Trail Blazers.
The Mavs are going home. Dirk will age another year. The hope is that Monta Ellis can develop in that star role that’s needed. Dallas enters another summer with a ton of cap room, ready to get a big-name free agent to finally come to Dallas. In reality, the Mavs are only a piece away, mainly a big piece taller than 6-foot-10 and he plays for the Miami Heat.
But that’ll be saved for a later date.
This wasn’t anywhere near the championship year, but it was just as special. From Devin Harris flashing his old form in Dallas, to Vince Carter making the shot heard ’round the world, this series was epic. It was unforgettable, putting a cap on a season that was just as unforgettable and special.
It was another year where the Mavs had to sign a bunch of players to fill holes in the roster. Not sure they expected what they got out of Jose Calderon, who was one of the top 3-point shooters in the league. They probably didn’t expect Monta to become the team player that he was. The more he plays in Dallas, the more his chances increase of finally making an All-Star team.
To top it off, no one expected the year Dirk had. Just when experts wanted to write him off because he was 35 years old, all he did was have another All-Star season, averaging 21.7 points and 6.2 rebounds. The big German still has some years left in the tank, as he heads into next season as the 10th leading scorer of all time.
Between Carter putting his name in the Sixth Man of the Year conversation, Shawn Marion still being considered a solid defender and Shane Larkin showing bright spots for the future, all the Mavs need are a few pieces to get back to title contention.
But for now, this is a time to celebrate accomplishment the likes of which unexpected. The Mavs are back. They’re only a couple players away. That’s what the summer is for.
For now, enjoy it.
You can find Danny Webster on Twitter @DannyWebster21.