The Dallas Mavericks have won four straight for the first time this season, continuing an unlikely turnaround after a miserable start. That puts the Mavs just 1.5 games out of the 8th spot and a playoff berth in the Western Conference. Dirk Nowitzki — newly anointed as the 6th player in NBA history to score 30,000 points — looks healthy and sharp. It may be relevant to paraphrase Mavs owner Mark Cuban, who has said great teams don’t always win championships — hot teams win championships. The Mavs aren’t that hot, of course — they’re just a team with growing confidence and no chance at the NBA title. But if they make the 8th spot and enter with momentum, they could give the #1 seed something to think about.
Especially if that #1 seed is the Golden State Warriors, who despite having the NBA’s best record are just 6-4 in their last 10 with two straight losses. The Mavs are 6-4 over that stretch, too. The Mavs aren’t going to knock off the Warriors. Stranger things have happened, but they don’t happen very often. Yet the Western Conference looks more open this year than it has recently, and a Dallas team that can take a game or two in the first round could shift the balance as the playoffs go on. (Significantly, Dallas is far tougher at home than the other teams fighting for the spot — Portland, Minnesota, and Denver.) Plus this potential matchup has the double, Williams-sisters-style pleasure of featuring Curry versus Curry. That’s Steph v. Seth. Seth is starting to catch some fire, too.