x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 23 January 2018

Dallas Maverick's disappearing act

It's the NBA play-offs, so that means it is also time for the Dallas Mavericks to do their annual disappearing act — one round and out.

Mark Cuban, Mavericks owner, has seen his team bottle the play-offs in the las tfour seasons.
Mark Cuban, Mavericks owner, has seen his team bottle the play-offs in the las tfour seasons.

Despite what you hear, there are some things in life that you can count on - oceans are salty, Antarctica is cold and the Dallas Mavericks will shrink in the play-offs.

You would wonder if there is something in that Texas water - had not the San Antonio Spurs won four NBA titles.

The Mavericks have never won a title and it is probably not going out on a limb to declare they are not going to win one this year.

The Mavericks have enjoyed 11 consecutive 50-win seasons. And 11 frustrating visits to the post-season. No team shrinks and disappears in the play-offs quite like the Mavericks.

In three of the past four seasons, they have lost in the first round to an underdog.

Since the NBA went to a best-of-seven format in the first round in 2003, they are the only No 1 seed to have lost in the first round. And they have also been knocked out in the first round as a No 2 seed.

Their all-time killer flop was when they finally made it to the NBA Finals in 2006, took a 2-0 lead against the Miami Heat, had discussed what the parade route should be to celebrate the title, and were up by 13 points in the fourth quarter of Game 3 ... only to blow the lead and never win another game.

It is hard to match that for pure athletic pain, although the Mavericks gave it an excellent attempt in Game 4 on Saturday against the Portland Trail Blazers.

The Mavericks were leading by 23 points late in the third quarter and about to go 3-1 up in their best-of-seven series when they started playing like Mavs in the play-offs. The Trail Blazers, led by Brandon Roy, their guard, pulled off a furious comeback, won 84-82 and knotted the series up 2-2.

"This is definitely up there with the most frustrating losses," said Dirk Nowitzki, the Dallas forward.

Maybe the Mavs will come back to win this first-round series. They still hold home court advantage. Right now they have to be one seriously deflated team who are hearing, again, how they choked or do not have enough heart or are not tough enough. Not exactly the kinds of descriptions a team wants to be known for. And should they manage to get past Portland, waiting for then in the second round will probably be the Los Angeles Lakers, the defending champions, who do not fear them one iota.

The Dallas Mavericks, shrinking before our very eyes - again.