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NBA Dallas Mavericks

5 Keys To Dallas Mavericks’ 2014 Title Hopes

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5 Keys To 2014 Title Hopes

Dallas Mavericks, Dirk Nowitzki
Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Every Dallas Mavericks fan can tell you exactly where they were on the night of Sunday, June 12, 2011. That was the night that the Dallas Mavericks won their first NBA Championship by defeating the Miami Heat in Game 6 of the NBA Finals. The Mavericks fans that had suffered through all the horrendous seasons of the 90’s and the heartbreaking playoff losses of the 2000’s had finally received their reward.

The next two seasons were very tough for the Mavericks and their fans. In the 2011-12 season, the Mavericks barely made the playoffs as a No. 8 seed after Mark Cuban decided not to bring back some key members of the championship team, including Tyson Chandler, Jason Terry and J. J. Barea. The Mavericks were swept by Oklahoma City.

Last season was even worse for the Mavericks. They finished 41-41 and failed to even make the playoffs.

Heading into this season, many Mavericks fans were not sure what to expect. Dallas brought in a lot of new faces, including Monta Ellis, Jose Calderon, Samuel Dalembert and rookie Shane Larkin. To the surprise of many fans, the Mavericks have been very competitive and have won five straight games.

Not everything has gone right for the Mavericks, however. They have had a huge problem protecting leads. On four separate occasions, Dallas has led by 17 or more points and still lost the game, mainly due to some atrocious defensive play.

As we approach the midway point of the NBA season, one wonders just how good the Mavericks can be. Can they be a legitimate Title contender? If the Dallas Mavericks want to be an elite team, there are some key things that must happen. Here are my top five keys to the Mavericks’ Title hopes.

Jeremy Martin is a Dallas Cowboys writer for RantSports.com. Follow him on twitter @Jmartin1982Like him on facebook or add him to your network on Google.

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5. Shane Larkin Must Be A Spark

Shane Larkin, Dallas Mavericks
Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

When the Mavericks drafted Shane Larkin, he was automatically compared to J.J. Barea. Both are speedy point guards who love to get to the basket. In the Mavericks’ Title run in 2011, Barea played a huge role being the spark off the bench. For the Mavericks to make a run in 2014, Shane Larkin will need to do the same.

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4. Rick Carlisle Must Out Coach The Opposition

Rick Carlisle, Dallas Mavericks
Mark L. Baer-USA TODAY Sports

One advantage Dallas has on most nights is in the coaching department. Rick Carlisle is one of the best coaches in the NBA. He was praised for pressing all the right buttons in 2011, and must do the same in 2014.

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3. One Of The Centers Must Step Up

Samuel Dalembert, Dallas Mavericks
Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

Tyson Chandler was dominant for the Dallas Mavericks in 2011. He gave them something they had never had before — an advantage at the center position. Dallas needs Samuel Dalembert, Brandon Wright or Dejuan Blair to give them that same edge this season.

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2. Monta Ellis Must Return To His Early-Season Form

Monta Ellis, Dallas Mavericks
Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Early in the season, Monta Ellis was unstoppable at times, giving Dallas a lethal 1-2 punch alongside Dirk Nowitzki. Eillis will need to regain that early-season form and be what Jason Terry was in 2011.

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1. Dirk Nowitzki Must Continue His Greatness

Dirk Nowitzki, Dallas Mavericks
Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Dirk Nowitzki is the heart and soul of the Mavericks. They go as he goes. Despite many critics saying that “father time” has caught up to him, Nowitzki is in the middle of another impressive season. As long as Nowitzki can continue his great season and be what he was in the championship run of 2011, the Mavericks will always have a chance.