The good/bad Mavericks are going to the playoffs, and they've absolutely earned it

Mpu Dinani

How are these guys simultaneously so good and so bad?

The Mavericks have made the playoffs. It's neither fun nor particularly meaningful to be objective about sports but objectively a team with a defense this bad and a 35 year old superstar doing this well, whatever happens, is sorcery. Period.

It has been a really weird ride.

On the one hand, the Mavs seem to lose impossible to lose leads with stunning regularity, and to do things that truly defy belief in the pursuit of that goal. Against the Suns, for example, as seems like ALWAYS *)(#$@ing happens, the Mavs had a commanding eight point lead with just over two minutes to go. After two made free throws, a Monta turnover leading to a quick layup, followed by a Monta loose-ball foul leading to two free throws, the lead was down to one with :52 seconds to go and would have been a tie game had Bledsoe not missed his second free throw. Then, of course, Vince took a crazy-ill-judged three and Monta missed 2-4 late game free throws to keep it a one-possession game down to the final buzzer.

This is how it's been, and how it keeps being. Even the protagonists--Monta and Vince--are pretty much always the same. The Mavs wouldn't be anywhere without them, but something about the last two minutes and those guys doesn't jive, and the Suns game is the perfect example for that. The Mavs don't win that game without Monta's massive 37-4-5-2 line and they don't almost lose without his like four different last minute miscues.

But that almost turns out to be the most important thing in the Mavs season. And that too, isn't just once, but over and over again.

The Mavs just might be the most clutch un-clutch team of all time.

Look. Since the beginning of February they've gotten blown out by the Bobcats. They had a three point lead against Miami with 7:12 to go, only to lose by nine million. They had a losing streak against Chicago, San Antonio and Denver in which they led in the fourth against the Bulls, then never really got close to the Nuggets or Spurs.

After that came the really hard times in which they really Mav'd it up. There was a crushing overtime loss to Minnesota in which the Mavs actually trailed all of the fourth until the last minute and a half, then held a five point overtime lead for like literally a minute thirty.

This was followed by an overtime loss to Brooklyn two games later in which, in what seems like more typical Mavs fashion, they lost a four point lead with 41 seconds to go. Then a loss to the Clippers two games later in which they had a four point lead with 1:46 to go and somehow lost by six.

And finally the brutal overtime loss to the Warriors, two games after that, in which the Mavs lost another four point lead with 1:43 to go and a three point lead with 1:35 to go because of a couple open threes, got a four point lead in overtime, then there was that goaltending, then there was Steph Curry, then there was fire....

But do you realize the Mavs are 21-10 over that same time span?

Some glasses are half empty, some are half full, and some are half-full of a substance that is simultaneously poison and mad delicious.

This is what it's like to be in a position in which one can say the Mavs have let a bunch of games slip away and that they've won nearly all of them, and all of the important ones. They both lose these seemingly un-lose-able leads and have managed to grab the tiebreak from both of their major competitors for a playoff spot.

And to say that they let a bunch slip away and almost let a bunch more is to realize how terrific they've been for a while now.

Look. You might say the Mavs could or should have found a way to win all those games in March in which they either had a four point lead with less than two minutes to go, or ultimately lost in overtime.

But if they had, do you realize they'd have had a 14 game wining streak snapped by the Spurs a few nights ago? They'd be 17-2 since March 7? Does it really seem like they should be that? Really? That's how good they've actually been. It seems like they SHOULD have won 17 of their last 19 games.

On Friday, January 24, the Mavericks were a bare five games over .500. Despite the fact that they seem to do nothing but lose leads, they have been 12 games over .500 since that point. On the season, they are 5-1 against Phoenix and Memphis. They absolutely deserve their seed. If they should have won the Golden State game, because of that goaltend, they'd be 6-1 so far in April, when they absolutely had to win.

They lose everything but the game. And now they're going to the playoffs.

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