Dallas Mavericks: No Really, Tonight is a Must Win

By Ryan Heckman
Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Tonight’s matchup against the Denver Nuggets is a must-win for the Dallas Mavericks. No, seriously. It is. Don’t tell me you’ve heard this before.

Sitting two and a half games outside of the Western Conference’s eighth seed currently held by Kobe Bryant and the Los Angeles Lakers, the Mavericks have a nearly impossible road to the playoffs ahead of them. Tonight, it doesn’t exactly get easier as they take on a Western heavyweight in the Nuggets.

The Nuggets have proven all season long that you don’t need a star player to win games. All you need is a bunch of players that simply want to win games. Dominating post play and forcing fast breaks have been the keys to Denver’s productive season so far. Against Dallas, all obvious indications would point toward the Mavericks doing nothing to stop them in their style of play tonight.

Dirk Nowitzki, on the other hand, may have other plans. Despite not getting a ton of help from his team this year without another consistently proven offensive option, Nowitzki has put the team on his back over the past few weeks and willed them to unlikely victory after unlikely victory.

Tonight, if they are to have any success against the Nuggets, they first need to establish a presence on the defensive side of the ball. If they are able to do that to a level where turnovers are forced leading to easy fast break points, they have one step down. Secondly, they must get a great game out of O.J. Mayo. Mayo is the only other guy on the team who has the ability to score at will when he’s at his best.

The problem for the Mavericks has been just that; Mayo has not been at his absolute best. While he has had a decent season, Mayo possesses even much greater ability than what he’s shown. He has the tools to be a star in this league, but hasn’t put his mind to it at this point in his career.

The hopes of facing the San Antonio Spurs in the first round of the playoffs are dwindling rather quickly for the Mavericks. If they were to lose tonight, they might as well kiss the postseason goodbye.


Ryan Heckman is a Minnesota Timberwolves writer and NBA contributor for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter, “Like” him on Facebook, or add him to your network on Google

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