Tonight we witness Exhibit A of why you want to get a berth in the NBA Playoffs. It's the atmosphere…
Mavs Update: Golden State Worriers
"As far as the seeding," Dallas Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle said, "that's a distraction from the task at hand, which is making sure we're as ready as we can be."
That, of course, is a pipedream -- and it's also revisionist history in terms of what Dallas would be discussing this morning had it not gotten slapped around by Golden State, 108-85, on Tuesday. Only after the loss -- which largely crushes hopes of elevating to the coveted No. 6 seed in the Western Conference -- can we say, "Scoreboard-watching is bad.''
Because had Dallas won, we'd all be celebrating the joys of closing the gap, of being in hot pursuit, and yes ... of scoreboard-watching.
The attention must turn quickly to tonight at Utah, but even that comes with a concern: Devin Harris exited Tuesday's game with a sore right Achilles. With Jae Crowder nursing an abdominal strain, Dallas might not have all hands on deck.
Of course, good teams overcome. Golden State (41-24) strengthened its position at sixth in the West (three games ahead of 38-27 Dallas) despite its best player, Steph Curry, being limited by a quad injury to 10 points in 22 minutes. The Warriors got 19 from Jordan Crawford and Andrew Bogut had 15 points and 10 rebounds and the Warriors notched their fifth straight win.
The Mavs countered with subpar nights from Monta Ellis (the former Warrior scored 15) and Dirk Nowitzki (12 points, locking him in a tie with John Havlicek as the 12th all-time NBA scorers). In a rarity, the Mavs bench was outscored 59 to 37.
Dallas allowed a 21-6 run that ended the first quarter and never really climbed the hill from there against a Warriors team that's won two of three from the Mavs with one more to go.
"Other than the first six minutes of the game, we were fighting uphill the rest of the time,'' Carlisle said. "We have to flush it and get ready for (Utah)."
But not, in theory, to scoreboard-watch. Even though Golden State will be playing the Clippers. Even though Phoenix and Memphis are pretzel'ed into this equation. Even though everybody in that room knows the relative undesirability of being a 7 or 8 seed and having to open the playoffs against OKC or San Antonio.
From the pragmatist Carlisle, preaching toward an ideal: "You know, I'm really not thinking about that. I'm thinking about how we're playing right now, what went wrong tonight and what we got to do to get ready for tomorrow.''
From the playoff-hungry Dirk, pushing toward a big-picture view: "Being in the playoff picture is a lot more fun than chasing it and being under .500 by seven games (like last season). That's not ever the spot we wanted to be in as a franchise. This is a lot more fun."