DALLAS -- Donnie Nelson and the other members of the Dallas Mavericks' top brass are concerned that the Mavs' 12-year run of advancing to the playoffs may come to an unceremonious end this season.
The Mavs go into tonight's home game against the Golden State Warriors with a 21-28 record. In other words, if the playoffs started today the Mavs would be at home watching it on TV.
That would be a huge fall from grace for a team that just celebrated winning the NBA title in 2011.
"We've had a special run -- we're fighting to protect that,'' Nelson, the Mavs' president of basketball operations, told three reporters after this morning's shoot-around at American Airlines Center. "I think it's a product of the West being so top-to-bottom thick.
"I'd love to petition the commissioner to slide over to the Eastern Conference for a couple of years -- that might be nice.''
The Mavs are currently five-and-a-half games behind Houston for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference. And with only 33 games remaining, the Mavs have to start kicking it into high gear immediately in order to stretch their playoff streak to 13 years in a row.
"Are we concerned, yes, because we're used to performing at a high level,'' Nelson said. "(Owner) Mark (Cuban) starts off every discussion and meeting with championship.
""With Mark's creativity and ability to have flexibility in the marketplace -- I think we've gained the trust of our fans over a period of time -- we're going to get back there. And with Mark, my bet is that it's going to be sooner rather than later, but there's no guarantees.''
Cuban purchased the Mavs from Ross Perot Jr. on Jan. 4, 2000. And the Mavs have advanced to the playoffs every full season since he's owned this franchise.
Only the San Antonio Spurs -- they've made the playoffs the last 13 seasons -- have a longer active playoff streak than the Mavs. Obviously the Mavs know if they can get to the playoffs, a long run could conceivably happen.
"And that's why every year we try to put ourselves in a position to make deep runs and compete, because once you get into the playoffs, as we know, anything can happen,'' Nelson said. "And that's our focus this year.
"We're certainly fighting for our playoff lives -- we understand that. But we're starting to kick in, we've got a nice little home stretch where we can hopefully make up some ground, and then at that point, who knows?''
-- Dwain Price
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