A glass-is-half-full approach at Dallas' present circumstance: it's a four-team race for the Western Conference's final three playoff spots. .. and the Mavs remain an entrant in that race.
A glass-is-half-empty approach: well, this is gonna take a lot of glasses.
The Mavs are now 35-37. We are now analyzing what will happen if they fail to make the playoffs. They are 2-9 in their last 11 games. They are now permanently without Chandler Parsons and at least temporarily without Deron Williams. Some of their recent losses have come against powerhouses like Golden State (two losses) and Cleveland. But they've also dropped games to theoretically inferior foes like Sacramento - where the Mavs play tonight in a 5 p.m. (Dallas time) tip.
Oh, and they are now in ninth place in the West.
"We've shown that we can compete with everybody in the league," coach Rick Carlisle says. "The important thing now is getting there. ... "The next 10 games are going to tell the story.''
"There" most immediately means Sacramento geographically but it means finishing the game in Sacramento, too. "There" means on the second night of a back-to-back go to Denver on Monday and finish that one, too.
But Dallas vs. the Kings (your DB.com GameThread and Mavs conversation is here) isn't the on-paper lopsided duel it once seemed to be; the Kings are just 28-44 but have won two of three against the Mavs this year.
And by the way, Dallas vs. the Nuggets looms similarly; The Mavs are 2-1 against them, with an OT victory and an OT loss included.
It would be nice to built upon the positives of Friday's 128-120 loss at Golden State, which featured not only the absence of Parsons and Williams but also the absence of Devin Harris (due to the birth of his baby) and the absence of Dirk Nowitzki (to rest there and prepare for here). That game is yet another example of Carlisle's "compete'' claim, and it is true. But Sacto "competes,'' too, because even with their problems -- internal and obvious, including their recent snapping of a seven-game losing streak during which they gave up an average of 113 points per game -- they employ Boogie and they employ Rondo and both of them have given Dallas fits.
"If we are going to get to the playoffs, we've got to work to get there,'' says Carlisle, and tonight it figures to be J.J. Barea playing a prominent role in joining Wesley Mathews (averaging 21 points in the last three games) and Dirk in doing the heavy lifting.
"We've got to continue that fight and that push to make sure we salvage this trip with two games left on it," says Matthews.
That's a "half-full'' mindset and it's the only way Mavs players should be thinking right now. But Mark Cuban's clever quote about that half-full/half-empty pouring is a reality. It's about the pitcher ... and about the grip on its handle that Dallas does not seem to have.