By Keith Antigiovanni
Five weeks into the 2011-2012 NBA Season the two Texas powerhouses, Dallas Mavericks and San Antonio Spurs, are tied atop the Southwest Division again. The defending NBA champion Mavericks are 14-9 along with the defending division champion Spurs at 14-9.
Despite the Mavericks overtime win over the Spurs on sunday night these two bitter rivals remain locked in a tight division battle the way they have the past 11 years in fact Dallas and San Antonio have the most wins in the regular season since the start of the 2000-2001 season.
The Spurs came into this abbreviated campaign with a 634-268 in that span but won 3 NBA titles in all 3 appearances while the Mavericks were 620-282 after 10 frustrating years of 50+ win playoffs' seasons with no championship. Dallas' 2011 NBA title helped put them in the upper echelon of teams in the 2000's and gave them bragging rights against their in-state rival Spurs.
Dallas, San Antonio and the Los Angeles Lakers have not only dominated the conference by winning combining to the West the past 12+ years since the end of the 1990's M.J.'s Chicago dynasty but have also combined to dominate in the NBA Finals with a record of 10-3. The Spurs are 4-0 and the Lakers 5-2 while the Mavericks are now 1-1 in the final round both against the Miami Heat.
The only question will either the Mavericks or Spurs represent the West again? Both are off to sluggish starts but Dallas has made the playoffs 11 straight years and San Antonio has made the postseason 21 of 22 years. Based on history you can conclude that both will get hot down the stretch but will they make it deep into the playoffs and possibly face each other in the Conference finals in a re-match of the classic 2003 WCF?
Up and coming teams such as the Denver Nuggets, Oklahoma City Thunder and even the surprising Los Angeles Clippers might be the "new kids on the block" in the West but until they still have to prove that they can knock off Dallas, San Antonio and the LA Lakers.