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Cuban talks title hopes with Mike & Mike

DALLAS - The Dallas Mavericks welcomed Mike Golic and Mike Greenberg of ESPN Radio to the American Airlines Center Wednesday morning for a live broadcast of their show to celebrate 103.3 FM's 10-year anniversary and 10 years broadcasting Mavs basketball.

The boys brought on owner Mark Cuban and then star Dirk Nowitzki. Cuban failed to inject any headline-making statements and he didn't make any braggadocios claims of a championship parade coming to the area in late June.

Cuban did say he is proud that his club has persevered through an adversity-filled season to have a shot at the No. 2 seed on the final night of the regular season. The Mavs wrap things up tonight at home against the New Orleans Hornets.

"We've had our ups and downs, there's no question about it. But, all things considered, to get off to a great start and lose Caron Butler for the season, I think a lot of people wrote us off," Cuban said. "I think even internally there were a lot of questions because Caron was our second-leading scorer and was vital to what we do. And then all of a sudden we started kicking it into gear, and then Dirk gets hurt and we go on a losing streak, and I think a lot of people wrote us off then. But, I think just through sheer force of will we've been able to fight back and here we are. In all candor, I think once we lost to the Lakers a couple of weeks ago, I don't think there was a guy in the locker room who thought we had a shot for the second seed, right?

"And here we are, depending on what happens in Sacramento tonight (the Lakers can clinch the No. 2 seed with a win over the Kings), we can get it. So, it's been a crazy season and now we start the real season."

Cuban's chronology is a bit off. Nowitzki went down first with a sprained knee on Dec. 27. Butler injured his knee on Jan. 1 and had season-ending surgery days later (although Butler maintains his goal is to return at some point during the playoffs). Still, Cuban's points is understood.

Before the real season begins, there's a matter of seeding to take care, and the Mavs have a choice. They can go all-out, play the full roster (meaning not rest Jason Kidd, who logged 39 minutes Monday at Houston in the second game of a back-to-back), and win it, then hope the Kings knock off the Los Angeles Lakers to give Dallas the second seed. If the Mavs and Lakers win, Dallas will finish with the No. 3 seed and open the playoffs against the Portland Trail Blazers.

If the Mavs lose and the Oklahoma City Thunder loses its finale tonight, the Mavs will also take the three-seed. However, a Mavs loss and a Thunder win would slide Dallas to No. 4 to face the Denver Nuggets

So, Golic asked Cuban, is tonight like a playoff game?

"It is a playoff game and it isn't," Cuban said. "I'm going to be interested to see how we respond as well. I mean, it's important, but I think we really don't care who we play. All things being equal, I'd rather be rested and healthy going in than worrying about seed."

Greenberg then asked the owner if this is the year the Mavs shake the ghosts of 2006 and win the franchise's first NBA title?

"I hope so," Cuban said. "You know, I never make predictions because it depends on a lot of things. One year [2003] we had Dirk get hurt. Another year Chris Webber got hurt and that affected things. Who knows where Andrew Bynum is after last night. There's just so many things that can impact. We'll see. Do we have the capability to get there? Absolutely. Can we? We're going to find out. Are we ready to go for it? Absolutely. I've got a lot of confidence in this team."