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NBA power rankings 2012: Dallas Mavericks starting to slip

The Mavericks went 0-2 over the weekend, nearly erasing the early-season optimism after the team's hot start.

Jerome Miron-US PRESSWIRE

The Dallas Mavericks roared to a surprising 4-1 start to the season, beginning with a big opening-night win on the road against the Lakers. Since then, two straight losses have dampened enthusiasm about a team playing without Dirk Nowitzki. The Mavericks had been sustained by the big play of Darren Collison and rookie Jae Crowder, yet both players went cold over the weekend, leading to back-to-back losses to the New York Knicks and Charlotte Bobcats.

The reality of what the Mavs are without Nowitzki could be hitting home, and after the two losses, the Mavericks understandably fell a bit in this week's power rankings. Seth Rosenthal of SB Nation has the Mavericks at No. 14, citing the inability of Dallas to make plays late in games as reasons for concern.

Mark Stein of ESPN has the Mavericks at No. 13 and states that the team could be the DFW area's lone sports hope this year:

The locals wanted to believe these Mavs, without Dirk, had some unforeseen Cinderella in them after being subjected to a collapse by baseball's Rangers, another up-and-down Cowboys season and a lockout that shut down hockey's Stars. Saturday's L in Charlotte spoiled that.

NBA.com's John Shuhmann has the Mavericks all the way down at No. 17, stating that Shawn Marion's injury may be too much for the Mavericks to handle without Nowitzki.

Photographs by jamesbrandon, jdtornow, phlezk, flygraphix, mcdlttx, tomasland, and literalbarrage used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.