Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Opportunity sits before the Mavs

The adjectives are bandied about in sports all the time, regardless of time or place. Critical. Pivotal. Must-have. Statement. We’ve all heard those words preceding the word “game” plenty of times.

The do-or-die element to games that really aren’t do-or-die is just part of the deal. How many times can a team play the “biggest” game of the season? How many stretches in the schedule “define” a team?

Well, this isn’t a diatribe against that line of thinking. In certain cases, it’s spot on. That’s why we have clichés. They’re often true. The Mavericks are floating in that boat.

Without being overly dramatic – we’ve leave that to Mark Followill, Chuck Cooperstein and Bob Ortegel – this is it. Whether the Mavs head to the postseason for the eighth straight year will largely depend on what happens in the next four games … without Dirk Nowitzki.

Sure, it’s not the end-all. But facing their two closest pursuers in the Western Conference playoff chase three times in week with tiebreaker implications on the line can’t be overstated. The fun begins Thursday night at Denver, currently the ninth of nine teams in the postseason chase.

“We predicted this way back in January,” Avery Johnson said Wednesday. “There can be a shifting and a swinging in the standings. Nothing’s really decided yet, so with 10, 11, 12 games for some teams left, I think there’s still great opportunities out there and especially for us.”

Read the rest of this story and get a Denver preview in today’s notebook at

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