Heat seek history; Mavs answers

Dirk Nowitzki

The Miami Heat and their core of LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh start the second half of the NBA season with one goal: win a third consecutive NBA title.

It must be nice to have that as a realistic goal.

The journey starts Tuesday against the Dallas Mavericks.

Hard to believe it hasn't even been three full seasons since the Mavericks shocked much of the free world by beating the Heat and winning their first title. Seems more like 20 or 30 years ago, right?

While the Heat talk about history, around here we reminisce about the good old days and what might've been if Mark Cuban had kept the Mavs together.

Yeah, yeah, yeah, we've all heard the myriad of reasons about why Cuban didn't think that made sense.

We know the Mavs were trying to get the proverbial big fish, such as Deron Williams (insert laugh track) or Dwight Howard.

Dirk Nowitzki and Shawn Marion remain quality NBA pieces, but they're all that remain from one of the more improbable championship runs in NBA history.

Of course, Rick Carlisle is still here too, moving pieces around and demanding his team play with the proper disposition every day.

The reality, however, is that while the Heat prepare to contend for another title, we wonder whether the Mavs will be the sixth, seventh or eighth seed in the West.

We wonder whether there's any possible trade that would make the Mavs legitimate contenders this season.

And we wonder whether it's better for Cuban to blow it up and hope he gets lucky with a lottery pick that can develop into a star the way Dirk did.

Since winning their title, the Mavs were swept by the Oklahoma City Thunder in the first round of the playoffs, then missed the postseason for the first time in more than a decade.

They're 32-22 this season, but they're the kind of team that could lose to raggedy team such as the Charlotte Bobcats on one day and overpower the best team in the Eastern Conference, the Indiana Pacers, a day later -- which is just what they did last week.

StiIl, no one considers the Mavs to be anything but an annoyance when the playoffs start. With Carlisle and Dirk, they're not the kind of team any other club wants to face, but they're not good enough to make a long playoff run.

Winning one round for the Mavs would be great. No one but Cuban, the guys in the locker room and the MFFL (Mavs Fans For Life) believe they can get to the Western Conference championship, which is cool.

Folks like to talk about anything being possible once you get into the playoffs, but that's not really the truth. In a best-of-seven series, the best team wins. No team flukes its way to four wins.

While the Mavs plot of ways to upset the better teams in the Western Conference, it's the complete opposite for the Heat.

They're trying to become one of the transcendent teams in NBA history. Since the great Boston Celtics' run, when they captured eight consecutive titles from 1959 to 1966, only Michael Jordan's Chicago Bulls and the Los Angeles Lakers have won three straight titles.

Chicago did it twice in the 1990s and the Lakers did it from 2000 to 2002. Now, Miami wants to add its name to the list.

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