The Dallas Mavericks were again defined this year by their perennial All-Star Dirk Nowitzki and their outspoken owner Mark Cuban. Cuban and the rest of the Dallas front office has done wonders with this team stringing together ten 50-win seasons and ten playoff appearances in a row. Yes they have also had great coaching from Don Nelson, Avery Johnson and now Rick Carlisle, but we must all give credit where credit is due: Dirk Nowitzki is the heart and soul of this basketball team.
This fact was clear this season when Dirk went down with a knee injury against the Thunder on December 27th. Dallas finished that game with a dominating 24-5 record, having beaten 12 of the 16 playoff teams (losing only to Chicago and not playing LA, Indiana or New York). Without Dirk, the Mavs lost 9 of their next 11, dropping to 26-14. Dirk returns and the team goes 19-2. The dominance of a 7 footer who can shoot 3-pointers is easily one of the most overlooked skill-sets in all of sports and the wins Dallas stockpiles behind Dirk is perfect evidence.
After a couple of small trades, most notably trading for Caron Butler, Dallas ended the season 57-25 as the 3rd seed in the West. Their playoff series with Portland is already being touted as the most intriguing in the West. Congratulations to the Mavericks for another successful season!