The sweat probably hasn’t even dried on the floor of the American Airlines Arena in Miami, and the oddsmakers have already named the favourites to win the 2012 NBA title.According to Bodog.com, the Miami Heat are the favourites at 5/2. The Dallas Mavericks are not even considered the favourites in the Western Conference, coming in at 10/1, behind the Los Angeles Lakers (11/2) and Oklahoma City Thunder (8/1).
Of course, the Mavericks did not dominate the 2010-11 season, and many so-called experts predicted they would bow out of the playoffs in the first round. Based on the Simple Rating System (SRS; point differential adjusted for strength of schedule), the Mavs were just the fourth-best team in the West and the eighth best team overall during the regular season.
But the Mavs won when it mattered. And they made their playoff run without an injured Caron Butler, their third-leading scorer during the regular season, and beat the Heat with Peja Stojakovic only playing 26 minutes in the Finals.
And then there is the issue of the 2011-12 season and the unknown salary cap. Depending on where the new number falls, the Mavs appear to be in a decent position with just $59.5 million committed to returning players, which puts them in the neighbourhood of where the cap may land.
But the biggest factors are Dirk Nowitzki and the X-factor, experience. At age 32, Nowitzki has yet to show signs of slowing down. In the last seven seasons, he has averaged between 23.6 and 25.1 points per 36 minutes. This year he averaged 24.2 points.
And now the Mavs have the experience and the taste of winning in a league where repeating is as common as LeBron James sticking his foot in his mouth.
The Mavs may not be the favourites next season. But there is no reason why they won’t be right in the thick of things once again.
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