Monday's win at Oklahoma City is a perfect indication why the Dallas Mavericks are strong candidates to win this season's NBA championship.
Even with their All-Star forward and No. 1 go-to guy, Dirk Nowitzki, missing nearly the final three quarters with a sore right knee, the Mavs rolled up their sleeves and defeated the Thunder, 103-93. It was their eighth straight road win and increased their record away from home to an NBA-best 11-1.
Overall, the Mavs have won 17 of their last 18 games and have the league's second-best record at 24-5. But by taking down Kevin Durant and the Thunder on their home court, the Mavs proved they can beat anybody any where and under any conditions.
Even with their head coach, Rick Carlisle, back home nursing a bum knee.
Remember, the Mavs own road wins this year at Atlanta, Denver, Miami, Orlando, San Antonio, Utah and twice at Oklahoma City, and home wins over Boston, Miami, New Orleans, Phoenix, Portland and Utah.
The Mavs are an impressive 14-3 against teams that are .500 or better, with the losses coming to Chicago, New Orleans and Denver. The only teams above .500 which Dallas has yet to play are the New York Knicks and the two-time defending NBA champion Los Angeles Lakers.
Nowitzki will have an MRI at 9 this morning to determine exactly what's wrong with his knee. But knowing how tough Nowitzki is and how he's shaken off previous injuries and gotten back on the court quicker than anyone expected, he probably won't be out very long.
But if Nowitzki is sidelined for an extended period, this will be another chance for the Mavs to show that they have several more players who can step up and deliver in the clutch. And if that keeps happening -- and once Nowitzki returns -- the Mavs just might get that championship parade in downtown Dallas after all.
You know, the one that Miami stole from them in 2006.
-- Dwain Price