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According to the latest SB Nation Reacts survey, 88 percent of Mavericks fans are confident the team is headed in the right direction. That’s up from 85 percent last week and 55 percent two weeks ago. This surprised me somewhat, particularly as the Mavericks lost games to the Memphis Grizzlies and then the Minnesota Timberwolves to close the season.
It likely has something to do with Kristaps Porzingis returning to play in the final contests while looking pretty darn good on offense. Additionally, with Dallas avoiding the play-in tournament and staying at the fifth seed, the rest days probably give fans some hope for Dallas to come out against the Clippers looking feisty.
Every team still playing for the NBA championship has their season on the line in some capacity each game. However, some teams are backed into a corner more than others. Wednesday night the Western Conference plays its first two play-in tournament games with one team advancing to the NBA playoffs and one team having its season ended.
Fans around the NBA think the Golden State Warriors have the best chance of advancing beyond the play-in tournament, with 81 percent believing the team will win one of their games. They are followed by the Los Angeles Lakers, who have 80 percent of fans that believe they will win a game. That’s the earned confidence of fandom of teams who have a history of winning. I wish I felt that way about Dallas games sometimes.
One of those top two teams will punch their ticket Wednesday night when the Warriors and Lakers play against each other. While it’s not quite a win-or-go-home game, the loser would be put into an extremely dangerous position. Fortunately for LA and Golden State, they have two of the best players in the game in Stephen Curry and LeBron James. Part of me wishes the Mavericks were involved just due to the sheer stakes. Luka Doncic in a win-or-go-home match? Sounds fantastic, but give me the rest days.
However, if forced to pick between the two, nearly three-fourths of fans believe Curry is more dangerous in an elimination game than James. Perhaps the Mavericks just haven’t been on the bad end of a Steph Curry torching, but this number being this high seems crazy to me. This is Lebron James we’re talking about here. Does anyone really think he’s not going to go off in a do or die situation?
The first of the Eastern Conference play-in tournament games were played Tuesday night with the Boston Celtics earning the first bid into the playoffs after beating the Washington Wizards. 61 percent of NBA fans believed the Celtics would advance, falling only behind the Wizards team they beat, which took 78 percent. The Indiana Pacers received the least amount of votes, with only 24 percent, but lived to fight another day after beating the Charlotte Hornets. The Pacers coming out that hot was incredibly surprising given how they’ve played most of the year, but Boston going off (well Jayson Tatum and his 50 points) isn’t too surprising given how the Wizards don’t have any wing defenders.
The Hornets loss ended their season, but it’s not the end of exciting times in Charlotte. Point guard LaMelo Ball was picked by 52 percent of NBA fans as the player who should win the Rookie of the Year award. Ball beat out Minnesota Timberwolves’ top pick Anthony Edwards 36 percent and Sacramento Kings rookie Tyrese Haliburton who earned 12 percent. Josh Green didn’t get any votes, for those wondering...
Wednesday night’s winner between the Lakers and Warriors will decide who plays the Phoenix Suns in the first round. The loser will play for a chance to face off against the Utah Jazz and center Rudy Gobert. The Jazz star was the top pick among fans, with 49 percent of the vote, to win Defensive Player of the Year. Mavs fans may remember Kristaps Porzingis talking about wanting to win this award. Perhaps a healthy summer will allow him to push himself to another level.
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