Friday night's NBA machinations create the setup. The Spurs beat the Suns. The Mavs jump to seventh.…
The Mavs & The Up-To-The-Moment Playoff Info
Thursday night's opportunity against the Spurs would have set up a somewhat simple (at least less confusing) scenario in which the Dallas Mavericks would have accelerated the control of their own destiny; Saturday's visit from the Suns would've meant a win-and-you're-in scenario.
But alas, Dallas could not pull off a victory against a Tony Parker-less Spurs. (Full coverage is here.) Beating the hottest team in the NBA would have come with its own rewards as well: It would have put the Mavs in a position in which a Saturday win meant seventh place so they would avoid the first-seed Spurs in the first round of the postseason.
Now, it feels like just about everything is up in the air as we enter, for starters, a Friday featuring other teams' games.
Our David Lord tries to keep it clear here:
As of Friday morning, games remaining for the teams near Dallas in the standings: Memphis (4), Phoenix (4), Dallas (2), GS (4), Portland (3)
The Mavs' "Magic Number" ...
TO MAKE PLAYOFFS - 2 [Memphis]
Any combination of Dallas wins and Memphis losses that totals 2 will ensure the Mavs are in
TO BE AHEAD OF PHX - 4
Any combination of Dallas wins and Phoenix losses that totals 4 will ensure the Mavs finish ahead of Phoenix ...if that "4" includes 2 Dallas wins, the Mavs are guaranteed to finish no worse than 7th
TO PASS GS - 5
Any combination of Dallas wins and GS losses that totals 5 will ensure the Mavs finish ahead of GS ...if that "5" includes 2 Dallas wins, the Mavs are guaranteed to finish no worse than 6th
No matter what else happens ...
1) a win against EITHER Memphis or Phoenix puts the Mavs in the playoffs
2) a win over BOTH Memphis and Phoenix locks up 7th
The Mavericks still control their destiny in the sense that a win against Memphis in their final regular-season game on Wednesday will put Dallas in the playoffs. If the Mavericks win on Saturday versus the Suns and the Grizzlies lose tomorrow then Dallas could lock up a playoff spot before that matchup even comes about. However, the Grizzlies play Philadelphia today in a game that features one team that desperately needs a win versus one team (Philly) that doesn't seem all that interested in winning.
A key consequence of Dallas losing to San Antonio Thursday is that Phoenix moved ahead of the Mavericks into the seventh seed. This is especially significant considering the eighth seed will have to face the Spurs. The Mavericks have lost nine straight games to the Spurs and undoubtedly want to avoid San Antonio at all costs.
Before the Mavericks and Suns face off on Saturday, the Suns will catch the Spurs in the second night of a back-to-back. Whether the Suns are able to beat the Spurs tonight will determine whether they come into their matchup with the Mavericks either 0.5 games behind Dallas or 0.5 games ahead of them.
There is no word yet on whether the Spurs will choose to rest starters tonight. But Parker didn't play against Dallas and there's not much reason to change that tonight. And Duncan nearly sustained a knee injury and maybe that causes Pop to be cautious going forward with giving him meaningless minutes.
San Antonio sitting starters tonight seems like the logical way to go. ... which increases Phoenix' chances of holding onto seventh and keeping Dallas in eighth on Friday.
But regardless of what happens Friday night, the winner of Saturday's game between Phoenix and Dallas will wake up Sunday morning as the seventh seed.
Meanwhile, though the Mavericks have still yet to lock themselves into the playoffs with only two games left, the sixth seed is still technically in play. In fact, Golden State's loss to Denver on Friday leaves the Mavericks just one game back of the Warriors for the sixth. It's been months since the Mavericks were anything higher than the seventh seed in the West, and Golden State holds the tiebreaker with its 3-1 head-to-head record. But just in case ... but this holds significance because the sixth seed almost certainly has the advantage of getting to avoid both the Spurs and the Thunder in the first round of the playoffs and instead would face the Los Angeles Clippers.
Tonight the Warriors will face the Lakers in a game, much like the Grizzlies' game against Philadelphia, that Golden State is very likely to win. However, if the Warriors manage to lose to the Lakers then the Mavericks will be only 0.5 games behind the Warriors for the sixth spot in the West.
That's as simple as we can make it, though Carlisle does us one better:
"Right now, we have to win two games,'' said the coach.
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