I don't think that the mavs are pretenders. I just don't think that they (or rather, their leader - dirk) have the mental toughness to contend. Statements like "I know I am not going to get 35 points a game in this series" is not what a true contender even thinks, much less, says. I would say that dallas is in limbo. They are not quite contenders yet but they are not pretenders.