March Madness continues on Thursday, let's take a moment to look at one of the biggest stories in the NBA. The Western Conference has been exciting all season long, with 9 teams deserving of making the playoffs. The 9th team in the West could have 50 wins. They could host a series in the East instead they will be on the couch or up in the club sooner rather than later. Just a few weeks left to play it looked as though the team with 2 starters on the West All-Stars (Allen Iverson and Carmelo Anthoney), and last year's Defensive Player of the Year (Marcus Camby) would miss out on the post season. The dominant story lines focused on the big trades with stars on new teams, Pau Gasol, Shaquille O'Neal, Jason Kidd, and the incredible 22 game winning streak by the Houston Rockets. Throw the performances by Kobe Bryant and Chris Paul and you had an unbelievable year, let's get to the playoffs!
Well with 12 games left to play on the season for the Dallas Mavericks the 2006-2007 league MVP Dirk Nowitzki went down with a left leg injury. It looked nasty.  After adding Mr. Triple Double to a team that had the best record in the NBA a year ago, this team was worried about how far they could go this year, and avoid a first round upset. Now, will they make it? 44-26, more wins than every East team not named Celtics, Pistons, or Magic, and they have to sweat out the final dozen games of the year. Currently the Mavs reside in the 7th spot out West, .5 game up on the Warriors, and 2 games up on the Nuggets.
So the question remains, do the Dallas Mavericks make the playoffs?
LA Clippers @ Denver @ Golden State @ LA Clippers Golden State @ LA Lakers @ Phoenix Seattle Utah @ Portland @ Seattle New Orleans
That's 7 out of 12 games against teams with 42+ wins, and they have to do this without Dirk. Does Jason Kidd have enough left in the tank? Looks like a brutal stretch of games there, GS probably passes them for 7th, but now can Denver do enough to steal the last spot away from Dallas? Something to keep an eye on as you await the Sweet 16. Hope your bracket is doing better than mine. Chances are... it is.