Friday, April 11, 2008

Confidence on the rebound

Win one of those games and it’s progress. Win two and seeds of confidence take root. Keep winning and a habit starts to take shape.

The Mavericks, many of them anyway, are quite familiar with the feeling. A team doesn’t win that many big games over the last few years without knowing how to handle pressure-packed moments against the NBA’s best.

Not everyone in this version of the Mavs had that catalogue to draw from, but triumphs over Golden State, Phoenix and Utah could be the start of a new collection. The latest victory, courtesy of Dirk Nowitzki’s buzzer beater, nailed down a Western Conference playoff spot in Game No. 79.

“That’s what won us basically 70 games last year, having that confidence down the stretch no matter what happens,” Nowitzki said before leaving for Portland on the last road trip of the regular season. “We’re going to get that big stop, we’re going to score a big basket, no matter who scores it, but we’re going to get it from somewhere, and we’re going to win the game.

“Hopefully, we can have that same confidence and build it more over the last three games, and it should be a fun playoff run. In the West, in the first round, whoever you’re going to face is going to be a tough series, so it should be fun for everybody involved. Not only the players, but the fans and everybody.”

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