"I thought that record was unbreakable, really," said Steve Kerr, the former Bull turned Warriors coach. "The last 20 years, I never thought anyone would come close. There's still 16 games to go and things happen, but the fact that we're here talking about it is a testament to our guys' competitive desire."
Premium Mavs: The Pre-Warriors Shootaround Vibe As Lee's Hoping To Go
Your Dallas Mavericks aren't just set to be challenged tonight by the world-champion Warriors. They are also challenged with the task of avoiding a historical blemish: their first five-game losing streak in the AAC's history.
What's the vibe of today's pre-Warriors shootaround at the AAC?
“Well, they’ve got a lot of challenges,'' coach Rick Carlisle said of his Mavs' study points on the Warriors. "I believe what you have to do is go out there with a simple plan. You’ve got to play till exhaustion against great talent and great skill, and you’ve got to have some simple adjustments that you make throughout the game, if needed. You’ve got to hope that they miss some shots that they normally make, and you’ve got to make it as hard on them as possible. And at the other end, we’ve got to attack and create good shots. It’s difficult ...''
Forget for a moment Dallas' 34-34 record and its tenuous position in the range of the No. 8 spot in the West, the "reward" for that accomplishment, should the Mavs achieve it, being a first-round playoff bout against these same nearly-unbeatable Warriors, who are 61-6, one game ahead of Chicago's mark through 67 during its record 72-win season in 1995-96.
Yes, yes, but ... forget that for a moment.
Also ... Forget the recent series history (detailed here) and forget the suggestion that Dallas needs more lineup shaking-up (ideas here) and let's stay singularly focused on a theme:
The Mavs have, in consecutive home outings, lost to the Kings, Clippers, Pistons and Pacers. Lose again tonight in this 7:30 tip against a visitor favored by 9.5 points and the Mavs tumble in a way this building has never seen since opening its doors in 2001.
There are other Dallas sidebar stories unfolding right now and most of them are unfortunate, too. Oh, the NBA concedes that Dirk was fouled in this play in Cleveland that led to Wednesday's road loss?
Great. Thanks, NBA Powers.
Oh, we don't have to wonder if Jeremy Evans deserves a rotation spot because on Thursday he underwent season-ending shoulder surgery?
Great. Thanks, Basketball Gods.
But most immediately, today is about a high-energy crowd that will collect inside this building tonight in large part to be thrilled by the visitors, a high-energy team featuring one of sport's most compelling personalities in Steph Curry.
David Lee knows Curry and the Warriors well, having been part of their title run. He is hungry to play tonight but is a game-time decision due to a right groin he says he "tweaked" on Wednesday in the Mavs' loss at Cleveland.
“I pulled my groin a little bit," Lee said, "but hopefully I’ll be able to suit up tonight."
Lee is at 11.5 points and 7.6 rebounds in 11 games for Dallas since coming here following his Boston buyout. He exchanged warm greetings today when he crossed paths with his former teammates - and did the same when the 61-6 Warriors checked into the Dallas hotel that is serving as Lee's home.
"Seeing these guys in town always is motivation," he said of the defending champs and their record-setting success. "It’s always a fun challenge."
Curry, averaging points per game as a marksman without limits, is more than a challenge. He is making history. The Warriors, speeding toward an all-time-best total of 73 wins, is making history.
But if the Mavs lose here at the AAC tonight? The vibe will be as undeniable as the unprecedented fifth straight home loss.
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