The Dallas Mavericks have bragging rights. They can boast that they beat the mighty and super bad Golden State Warriors. 23 NBA teams cannot say the same. Although the 91 points the Warriors scored in Dallas in late December wasn’t their lowest of the season- they scored 89 points on Christmas Day and beat the Cavs- it was the Warriors second lowest point grab and their lowest on the road. Nearly 40 games later the two teams are back here again, Golden State trying to make history and the Mavericks trying to stay in the playoffs.
On December 30, going into their game in Dallas, Steph Curry and crew were 29-1. Curry didn’t play in that game and neither did Harrison Barnes. Klay Thompson, who was supposed to pick up the Curry gone slack, was awful and so was Draymond Green. The game was never close and by the end of the second quarter it was pretty much over.
Dallas shot 51%, outrebounded the Warriors by 15, and made twice as many three point shots. It bumped their record to 20-13. Since then, the Mavs have won 14 games in 79 days and the Warriors have lost 4 games in 79 days.
It’s routine to talk about the Warriors march to the Bulls holy grail of 72 wins . With 15 games left, they have to finish the year 12-3. They arrive in Texas with hopes of grandeur. The Dallas game is first on the docket before the Spurs slug fest tomorrow night. Conventional wisdom says if Steph Curry loses tonight, he’ll probably lose tomorrow night with Finals MVP Andre Iguodala on the shelf. The Spurs are a team wanting revenge for their earlier beat down in Oakland where the Warriors made them look old, slow and not very relevant. But the Warriors are never predictable.
The Warriors could win both Texas games, lose them both or split and no one would bat an eyelash even though the Warriors have not lost back to back games all season. Despite their brilliance, the Steph Curry doubters/haters can fill a stadium up to the nose bleed rafters. That the state of Texas has the ability to heap pressure on the Warriors whereas they have no room left for error, just one more loss, adds a hyper-sensitive level of drama, besides wondering if David Lee will play tonight against this former team.
Despite what they do in Texas on a Friday and Saturday night, the Warriors still have to come back to the state for another road game against San Antonio, game 81.
So, the Mavericks can make the Warriors sweat with a win tonight.
The Mavs can make themselves sweat with a loss.
If the Mavs lose tonight, whether in overtime or a Steph Curry beat down- they will have the same number of losses as the 9th seed Utah Jazz. And the schedule is brutal.
After tonight: at Portland, home vs. Portland, at Warriors, at Sacramento, at Denver, home vs. Knicks.
God is in the details though. The saving grace for the Mavs is the Jazz have a worse schedule: at Chicago, at Milwaukee, at Houston, at Thunder, at Wolves. The Jazz play the Warriors and Spurs before the season ends and have a home rumble with Dallas on April 11th.
Jazz-Mavericks will be game number 81 with an 8th seed playoff berth on the line. If the records are tied after game 81, only more drama. On the last game of the season, the Jazz go west to play in Kobe’s last NBA game. The Mavs host the Spurs.
That is so far down the road, almost invisible to the naked eye. Anything can happen in less than a month. Tonight the Mavs want a repeat of December 30th. Tonight the Warriors want one more footprint in history’s great march. But let’s call a spade a spade. The Warriors don’t need this win like the Mavs do. The Mavs are desperate for a tiny bit of breathing room for the playoffs.
In their last 20 games, the Mavs are 8-12. After tonight, will it be 9-11?
photo via llananba