Ah, those were good times, weren't they? This weekend, it gets even better.

Mavs in Seven

I know, the Dallas Mavericks won 67 games and recorded one of the most amazing regular seasons in NBA history, while the Golden State Warriors barely squeaked into the playoffs with 42 wins. Should be a sweep, right? Won’t be.

Strange things happen in sports. Texas-OU stays at the Cotton Bowl. The Dallas Stars finally score in overtime. The Vancouver Canucks have a killer whale for their logo. And the West’s No. 1 seed will be pushed to a seventh game before surviving No. 8.

Of course, the Mavericks sure didn’t looked skeered last night, what with their mingling and chillin’ at Chris Arnold’s Pre-Playoff VIP Party at Petrus Lounge.

Amongst the palm trees and pretty people on one of downtown’s coolest rooftap bars, guys like Devin Harris and Jason Terry looked anything but nervous. That will all change Sunday night at the American Airlines Center, when old friend Don Nelson pees in the punch.

Coach Avery Johnson and the Mavs like things just so. Structure. Order. Tempo. Nellie prefers to toss M&Ms into the ceiling fan and watch where they land. Comfort vs. Chaos. The unconventional Warriors will force 2-on-5 fast breaks. They’ll triple-team Dirk Nowitzki. They’ll play a lineup with no player taller than 6-foot-9. They’ll do anything to push the pace and break the mold and get the score into the 100s, where the Mavs are starkly ordinary (11-11 when allowing 100+ points).

The Mavs are going to win this year’s NBA championship. But in the end, the first step just might be the toughest. --Richie Whitt

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