DALLAS – For a team with the Mavericks’ recent playoff history, planning anything but the very next game is a dangerous proposition.
Dirk Nowitzki knows better than to assume anything, having lived through first-round playoff exits in three of the last four years.
But the landscape for Nowitzki and the Mavericks became clear late Tuesday night when the start date for the next round of the playoffs was announced.
The winner of this Mavericks-Trail Blazers first-round series will begin the conference semifinal series Monday against the winner of the Lakers-Hornets series.
The Mavericks and Lakers both own 3-2 leads and both have chances to close out their respective series on the road Thursday night in Game 6. The Mavericks will have to break the cycle of home teams winning in their playoff and regular season series’ with the Blazers, the home team has won all nine meetings this year, if they don’t want to host a Game 7 back here Saturday night.
Nowitzki said the fear factor for all of the teams on the verge moving on to the next round is non-existent, and has been for a while now.
“Yeah, I mean I think coming into the playoffs the way it already shaped up down the stretch, the West is wide open,” Nowitzki said. “I think that’s what you see now in the playoffs. Teams can be beaten. No team really looks unbeatable right now. So we’ve just got to keep on plugging and keep on fighting and hopefully get a big win on Thursday and go from there.”
Again, the Blazers and that raucous Rose Garden crowd expected for Game 6 will have something to say about if and when the Mavericks move on. The Blazers face elimination in Game 6 for the third straight season, having lost to Houston in a Game 6 in 2009 and to Phoenix last season in a Game 6.
“I don’t think this team has packed it in – no,” Blazers coach Nate McMillan said. “It’s not over. We’ve got a game to win Thursday.”