The Fourth Quarter

Jesse Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

Just four games under .500 with 20 games to go. Plenty of time to make the playoffs, right?

I have been a season long negative Nancy and it's irritated more than a few of our loyal readers. To a degree, this is more or less how I am with sports. I remember feeling broken after the 2011 playoff game in Portland when Brandon Roy went nuts. I probably felt relief more than joy when Dallas finally won in Miami later that year. I got into writing after having day long melt downs during Odomgate in 2012.

But I can also get swept up in the moment. A three game win streak! I've been delighted as anyone over these past three games. They're four games back from both the final playoff spot and from getting to .500. Utah is free falling and so are the Warriors! The Mavs have some momentum on their side! They can make the playoffs!

Can't they? Can't they?

Well. I suppose they can. Most of the experts will tell you that if this situation were to play out 10 times, the Mavericks would not make the playoffs 9 out of those times. But to that many of us will respond, "So what? I believe. This team just needs to get a little run going. It IS possible. I was around for 2011, you know."

I commend this response, and I wish I were the type of person who could get on board with this. But I can't, mainly due to the upcoming slate of games.

This is the schedule of Dallas over the next 13 games: the Bucks, Cavaliers, Spurs, Thunder, Hawks, Nets, Celtics, Jazz, Clippers, Pacers, Bulls, Lakers, Nuggets. One team under .500 with only two of the thirteen opponents not making the playoffs. The Mavs have some hope as only five of these 13 are on the road, but I can only see five to eight games Dallas has a real chance of winning. Given how far back they are in the standings, this is not enough.

After that, Dallas closes out the season playing five of seven games against lottery bound teams, though both Portland and New Orleans, who Dallas faces twice, play the Mavericks very well. I suspect Dallas finishes the season between 38 to 41 wins, just a hair under .500.

They are obviously going to keep fighting, but the last two wins feel like a bit of fool's gold. The Pistons and Wolves are not good basketball teams, terrible in ways that we Dallas fans should be thankful we do not have to experience. Our Mavericks have problems that lie in execution and cohesion. They have the talent, but the pieces don't work well together just frequently enough to hurt the bottom line.

I think the most likely outcome is Dallas going .500 over the remainder of the year. They'll win some, they'll lose more, and Dallas will miss the playoffs for the first time since I was a sophomore in high school.

Am I wrong? What do you think happens?

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