A few weeks ago, very few people were giving the Dallas Mavericks much of a chance of securing playoff basketball. On a 2-10 run through much of March, the Texas franchise's hopes of postseason play looked dead and buried.
After the regular season came to a close on Wednesday night, however, the Mavericks are facing up to a first-round series against the Oklahoma City Thunder having secured the sixth seed in the Western Conference.
Speaking in an international conference call today, Dallas' German veteran Dirk Nowitzki explained how the team had turned things around - beginning in the aftermath of a blowout loss to the Sacramento Kings on March 27.
Have your say on GiveMeSport - NBA by taking part in our survey here: https://gms.to/1ZIq9kk
"That was pretty much our lowest point of the season," Nowitzki said when recalling the Mavericks' 133-111 defeat on the road to the Kings.
"We didn't play well, we didn't compete well, we got outplayed. I think the whole team was embarrassed about it. We came together, we had a team meeting the next day I remember in Denver...
"We had a meeting and we just said, 'Hey, it is now or never. If this means something to you as a team, as an individual they we've got to fight. We got to fight harder, we got to fight together. We got to play better defense, we got to rebound better'.
"We had some coaches really going at us and I think the players responded the right way and we've been fighting our tails off (to) make it and it's been a fun last few weeks."
Whatever was said in that meeting certainly seemed to work as the Mavericks went on a 7-2 run to close out the campaign and snatch a playoff position the competitive West.
What made it even more impressive in the eyes of Nowitzki was the fact that Dallas were able to regroup whilst missing key players such as Chandler Parsons (out for the season) and Deron Williams for much of that nine-game span.
Now tasked with finding a way past Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and the rest of the OKC roster in the first round, the 37-year-old is under no illusions about the difficult road ahead for Dallas.
As he prepares for his 15th visit to the postseason in the last 16 seasons, however, the big German is confident the Mavs can carry over their recent good form into the games ahead:
"Hopefully, we can carry some of that fight and some of that spirit, some of that playing style into the playoffs and we will see what happens."