The Dallas Mavericks started 4-17. They are 5-4 since then. To get to, say, the 42-win mark that might figure to make them a playoff team, they'd have to go 33-19 the rest of the way.
That is not the ideal plan for those of us who see the Mavs as a "Treadmill of Mediocrity" bunch who need lottery help.
But can you blame the players themselves for wishing to exit the laughing-stock basement?
"It shows the resolve of this team," says Harrison Barnes as quoted in the DMNews. "We had the fight all season, but it hasn't really showed up in the win column. It hasn't really showed up in the road wins. And it can be deflating at times. But we stuck with it and we've put two road wins together. We just have to continue it."
Dallas hung on and won at Portland and did the same in the re-debut of Dirk at the Clippers last week and tonight has a 7 p.m. tip at New Orleans. (GameThread and free DB.com Mavs Boards membership here.)
The Pelicans are 11-21.
So the opportunity to get crackin' on that "33-19" exists.
"When you go on the road at Christmastime, there are opportunities to steal games," coach Rick Carlisle said. "I'm real happy for the guys. The last couple days, things are looking up."
Now, there are other "looking up" realities here. Forgetting for the moment how a tiny sniff of playoff contention would please Dirk Nowitzki while ruining a wish to pick at the top of the NBA Draft (and before that, to be a seller before the February trade deadline):
*At 9-21, Dallas remains tied for the poorest record in the West.
*To go from worst to eighth, the Mavs would have to vault over seven teams — meaning that while Dallas turns it on, seven other teams will have to simultaneously turn it off.
*Finishing 33-19 would put Dallas at a .635 winning percentage. That’s the sort of number that would, over the course of an entire season, make a team in the West a fifth-seed. Are the Mavs really capable of playing at that level?
"We're just trying to stockpile wins any way possible," said point guard Deron Williams. "We realize where we're at in the standings now. The best way to move up is get some wins. … "We're not that far off. That eighth seed is right there. We're what, three or four games back?’’
Yup, four games out of eighth. A wild ride towards .500. (Which can be fun, admittedly; remember the ".500 Beards''?) And then an unfortunate result for whatever team earns the privilege of playing Golden State in Round 1.
There is nothing wrong with MFFL who dread all of this, nor is there anything wrong with deciding to enjoy whatever ride this team takes us on. In either event, the players themselves want to forget 4-17, want to fix 9-21 and want to taste .635.
And who can blame them?