mavs to the nba: "be afraid."

just when people were writing dirk and the mavs off, here they go on a 5 game winning streak, beating 4 quality teams (no, houston, orlando, phoenix) all in good fashion. don't look now, but a certain "soft" team is only a half game out of the western conference lead (as is a supposedly "out of sync" suns team. seriously, who comes up with this knee-jerk reaction junk? you can't say that the regular season doesn't matter and then go berserk when things aren't going as well as they usually go, which is actually still pretty good when considering the exceptional level of play from the top three teams in the west).

as for dirk? brought out his A-game against the best, scoring 31 pts in straight games against orlando and phoenix, and then scoring 30 against the clippers for three straight 30 point games. yes, this season he hasnt been at his best (most stats and shooting %'s across the board are lower than usual, though his assists are up a little), but i hear some of that is in part to the mavs trying to incorporate more of the team into the overall game-plan on the offensive side instead of running the high screen and roll with dirk all the time (though to be fair, since the embarrassing defeat to denver, the mavs have upped the amount of screen and rolls from 40 to 65% of the time...coincidence with dirk scoring more points? i think not. since that game, dallas has won 7 of 8). one good representation of this fact is that, as of right now, josh howard leads the team in scoring (i dont expect that to be the case for the rest of the season). i'm all for this game plan. it makes your players more confident (see: brandon bass, j-ho), it builds trust among teammates, and now dirk doesn't have to shoulder so much of the load (which means a little less PT for dirk, which will translate into a healthier and much more rested dirk come playoff time). a great example of this is dallas' win over new orleans, where dirk only scored 7 points and the mavs still won by nine. that makes me happy and much more comfortable with our team. the point is, yeah, dirk has not been consistently playing at the level he usually plays, but he is by no means a fluke of an mvp. he's still here, he's still very good, and i still think he will lead us to the promised land. fun fact from dirk's mvp season: dirk is one of only two players to ever post a season average of at least 20 points, shoot 50% from the field, 40% from downtown, and 90% from the charity stripe. the other dude? none other than the guy dirk is often compared to: larry legend. let's hope dirk will end up with a similar legacy.

portland...still running up that win streak. now it's up to ten. i can't really consider them a serious contender or anything, but it really is amazing what this young team has been doing. i am really looking forward to seeing them playing at full strength with oden (KD and oden, among other things, make me really excited about the future of the nba). could they be that dangerous come playoff time? we shall see.

another young team to watch out for? the atlanta hawks (man, it feels really weird saying that). they haven't been to the playoffs since '99, so you know that city is achin' for some good news and a playoff spot (especially with the whole debacle that is the atlanta falcons). they're currently riding a 4 game winning streak. like portland, they've lost to some crappy teams, but they've also had some pretty convincing wins against the likes of dallas, phoenix, orlando, and utah. they're sitting at 4th in the eastern conference, and with the quality (or lack thereof) in that conference, they definitely can't be ignored. props to al horford, who's having a great rookie season.

found this gem on

marcus camby: master of the blocked shot, and apparently ugly purses too.

anyhow, keep watching those mavs. you won't be disappointed. there are still some issues with consistency, and as always, the mavs still have problems with putting games away. that said, they are working themselves back to their old form, and it's also really exciting to see the growth of devin harris and josh howard. should be another great season, even if we have to work through the grind that is the 82-game season (which must seem ten times longer considering what happened last year). let's get excited mavs fans!

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