With all due respect to the San Antonio Spurs, Dirk Nowitzki
does not see them as the No. 1 obstacle in the Western Conference.
In talking about how the Mavericks are the quiet contender in
the West, Nowitzki said he still believes the road to an NBA championship goes
west, not down I-45 to San Antonio.
“Under the radar is always good,’’ he said
of the Mavericks’ position. “I think the Lakers to me are still the
heavy favorite in the West. After that, there are a bunch of teams bundled up.
But I still think the Lakers are the heavy favorite in the West.’’
Nowitzki is trying not to diminish the meaning of the regular season or the
Spurs’ remarkable run that has given them a huge lead in the race for the
No. 1 seed in the conference.
He just knows how tough the Lakers can be.
“They’ve won two (titles) in a row,
they’re long and they got the same players and they got the best player
in the world,’’ Nowitzki said.
He got an “amen’’ from Jason Terry.
“No question, the Lakers, always, because
they’re the champs,’’ Terry said of who the favorite is in
the West. “But what San Antonio has done makes them a favorite, too.
We’re chasing all those guys and we’re going to play out this
underdog role. People didn’t predict us to do much before the season and
they’re not predicting us to do much now. We’ll continue to relish
that role and play with a chip on our shoulder. That’s the only way to
Nowitzki, by the way, believes the Mavericks as they are now
built are in about as good a position as possible to be able to contend with
the Lakers, as well as the Spurs.
“We’re long as well, now,’’ he said.
“We can match up with their length when we’re all hungry. And it
should be a fun matchup if we see them.’’