At the beginning of the season it appeared as if the Dallas Mavericks had no chance to make the playoffs, but after a bit of a run lately the Mavericks are within striking distance of the eighth seed in the West.
After beating the slumping Utah Jazz Sunday the Mavericks have pulled within two games of the Los Angeles Lakers for the final playoff spot. Dallas has won seven of their last ten games, including some impressive victories over the Boston Celtics, Atlanta Hawks and Milwaukee Bucks, all teams currently in playoff position. Even further, the Mavericks are 21-13 since being a season low ten games below .500 at 13-23 back on January 9.
Head coach Rick Carlisle deserves a lot of credit for the Mavericks late season surge. Even when Dallas seemed at their lowest point of the season, Carlisle kept them together until superstar Dirk Nowitzki was able to return. Carlisle also has been able to get the most out of veterans Vince Carter, Elton Brand and Chris Kaman, all players who could easily have looked at their stint with the Mavericks as just a pit stop on their path to a different team.
Even if the Mavericks don’t catch the improved Lakers for the eighth seed their play late in the season should be encouraging and give fans something to look forward to for next year. Nowitzki will be healthy, O.J. Mayo should be back and Dallas has some momentum they can carry into the summer, as well as cap space to improve the roster. The Mavericks fall out of the playoffs wont last long at all.