A victory against Phoenix puts Mavs in playoffs

Posted Friday, Apr. 11, 2014  comments  Print Reprints

Have more to add? News tip? Tell us

One final home game.

Four gut-check quarters.

Forty-eight physical minutes of stress.

That’s what this marathon of an NBA season has come down to for the Dallas Mavericks.

If the Mavs (48-32) can find a way to win Saturday night’s showdown against the Phoenix Suns, they’ll clinch a playoff spot after failing to qualify last season.

Tipoff is at 7:30 p.m. at American Airlines Center.

The Mavericks own the primary tiebreaker over both the Suns (47-32) and the Memphis Grizzlies (47-32).

The Mavs are 3-0 against the Grizzlies this season, and if they beat Phoenix, they would win that season series 2-1.

Even if the Grizzlies win their remaining four games, the best they can do is 50-32.

That would include wins over the Suns on Monday —making Phoenix only capable of finishing 49-33 — and against the Mavs on Wednesday.

Meanwhile, if the Suns lose to the Mavericks, then win their final two games against Memphis and Sacramento, the best record they could have is 50-32.

That would leave the Grizzlies in position to finish with a record no better than 49-33, which is the best the Mavs could do if they beat the Suns and lose at Memphis.

In other words, the Mavs will have an immediate reward if they rebound from Thursday’s 109-100 loss to the San Antonio Spurs and beat the Suns.

That thought had coach Rick Carlisle analyzing the impact of the game against Phoenix, which lost at San Antonio on Friday to fall into a tie with Memphis a half-game behind the Mavericks.

“I just want to make sure there’s no misunderstanding about what this next game is about,” Carlisle said Friday. “It’s about the team that plays with the most attitude and the stronger physical disposition; that’s the biggest thing.

“Beyond that, strategies have got to be there, we’ve got to have good schemes and stuff like that. But we can’t come out like we did [Thursday night] to start the game and to start the third quarter and get our butts handed to us. That’s not going to get it.”

Carlisle doesn’t mind how the NBA schedule has the Mavs, Suns and Grizzlies mired in a round-robin situation with only two of the teams guaranteed to make the playoffs.

“From a competitive standpoint it doesn’t get any better than this,” Carlisle said. “We took a kicking [Thursday night] and we’ve got to respond to how poorly we played.”

Carlisle drew similarities between the Spurs and Suns, with an additional nugget that should concern the Mavs.

“The Suns, you can argue, they’re a more physical team [than the Spurs] and in some ways even more athletic,” he said. “So, hey, that’s what it’s about is being able to bounce back from a bad night, and you’ve got to make it a good night, and that’s what our goal is going to be.”

Even if the Mavs lose to the Suns, they’ll still be in position to make the playoffs if they can win in Memphis on Wednesday.

But the Mavs don’t care about making this a winner-take-all situation with the Grizzlies.

“We’ll leave it all out there and hopefully get a little smarter and get to some of those loose balls and just let it all hang out,” forward Dirk Nowitzki said. “Phoenix is a tough team.

“We lost one, won one [against the Suns], so the tiebreaker is on the line as well. If we can get a little better start — we were a little slow [against the Spurs] — set a better tone, and it’ll be a hard-fought game.”

A hard-fought game the Mavs know they can ill afford to lose.

“We’ve got to do a great job of protecting our home court, which we didn’t do [Thursday night] and frankly it was very disappointing,” Carlisle said. “But it’s another day, and the great thing about this league is there’s usually another game coming.

“Right now we’ve got two more games coming and we want to play more. So the motivation is there.”

Especially for Saturday night’s game.

Dwain Price, 817-390-7760 Twitter: @dwainprice

Looking for comments?

We welcome your comments on this story, but please be civil. Do not use profanity, hate speech, threats, personal abuse or any device to draw undue attention. Our policy requires those wishing to post here to use their real identity.

Our commenting policy | Facebook commenting FAQ | Why Facebook?

Friday, November 21Full Scoreboard
No games today
Full Scoreboard
Friday, November 21Full Scoreboard
Orlando 11/21 7:00 PM ET
Charlotte TV: FSN-FL, SPSO
Phoenix 11/21 7:00 PM ET
Philadelphia TV: FSN-AZ, CSN-PHI
Detroit 11/21 7:30 PM ET
Milwaukee 11/21 7:30 PM ET
Toronto TV: FSN-WI, TSN
Boston 11/21 8:00 PM ET
Memphis TV: CSN-NE, SPSO
San Antonio 11/21 8:00 PM ET
Minnesota TV: FSN-SW, FSN-N
Brooklyn 11/21 8:00 PM ET
Oklahoma City TV: YES, FSN-OK
Cleveland 11/21 8:00 PM ET
Washington TV: ESPN, FSN-OH, CSN-DC
LA Lakers 11/21 8:30 PM ET
New Orleans 11/21 9:00 PM ET
Denver TV: FSN-NO, Altitude
Utah 11/21 10:30 PM ET
Golden State TV: ROOT-NW, CSN-BA
Chicago 11/21 10:30 PM ET
Portland TV: ESPN, WGN, CSN-NW
Full Scoreboard
Week 12Full Scoreboard
Kansas City20Final | Box
Oakland «24Gridiron Replay
Cleveland 1:00 PM ET
Atlanta TV: CBS
Tampa Bay 1:00 PM ET
Chicago TV: FOX
Cincinnati 1:00 PM ET
Houston TV: CBS
Jacksonville 1:00 PM ET
Indianapolis TV: CBS
Green Bay 1:00 PM ET
Minnesota TV: FOX
Detroit 1:00 PM ET
New England TV: FOX
Tennessee 1:00 PM ET
Philadelphia TV: CBS
St. Louis 4:05 PM ET
San Diego TV: FOX
Arizona 4:05 PM ET
Seattle TV: FOX
Miami 4:25 PM ET
Denver TV: CBS
Washington 4:25 PM ET
San Francisco TV: CBS
Dallas 8:30 PM ET
NY Giants TV: NBC
NY Jets 7:00 PM ET
Buffalo TV: CBS
Baltimore 8:30 PM ET
New Orleans TV: ESPN
Full Scoreboard
Friday, November 21Full Scoreboard
NY Islanders 11/21 7:00 PM ET
Pittsburgh TV: TVA, SN, MSG+, ROOT-PIT
Boston 11/21 7:00 PM ET
Columbus TV: NESN, FSN-OH
NY Rangers0Postponed | Box
New Jersey 11/21 9:30 PM ET
Edmonton TV: MSG+, MSG+2, SN-W
Full Scoreboard