And over here -- in the opposite corner from your red-hot Texas Rangers -- sit your Dallas Mavericks. Bruised. Bloodied. Slump-shouldered.
Ready for the NBA Playoffs?
At a time when they should peaking, the Mavs are pratfalling. After winning the first three games on their western road trip they lost the last three, capped by Sunday night's lackluster loss to the Portland Trailblazers in which they were never in the game. (Don't be fooled by the 104-96 final score.)
Remember last Thursday's statement game against the Lakers? Since that blowout loss in which the Mavs resorted to cheap-shot bullshit from Jason Terry and Brian Cardinal, Dallas proceeded to lose Saturday night to the lowly Warriors and then last night in Portland.
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Four games in five nights is tough. So is six in 10, especially for a team that some nights plays like veterans and others just looks old. But the long-term trend is more than troubling:
In its last seven games against Western Conference playoff teams, the Mavericks are 0-7, including two defeats to Portland, their potential first-round playoff opponent.
Dirk Nowitzki was subpar. Tyson Chandler sat out with a sore back. Jason Kidd looked ancient. And Terry -- the jump-shooting poster boy for this team -- went 3 of 15 in telltale losses in L.A. and Portland.
As teams jockey for position for the playoffs the last five games, no one is afraid of Dallas. Truth and the road trip be told, they shouldn't be.