DALLAS -- Although the Dallas Mavericks have four days between games this week, there's not a chance coach Rick Carlisle will give them enough time off where they can just kick back -- or give them enough time off where they can run to an exotic vacation spot to, say, Cabo San Lucas for some rest and relaxation.
Granted, a day after defeating the Orlando Magic 111-105, Carlisle did give his players Monday off. But the Mavs were back at practice Tuesday working on what Carlisle described as a "cleanup day."
Today, the Mavs will work on defense, and Thursday they'll start gearing up for Friday's home game against the San Antonio Spurs.
While the Mavs were trying to engage in a balance of rest and work, forward Dirk Nowitzki said that so far, it's been more of the latter.
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"I thought we were going to mix some rest with some work," Nowitzki said. "It looks like we're mixing more work than rest. Four days off in the middle of the season usually doesn't happen much, so you've got to make the best of it."
After hosting the Spurs on Friday and the Suns on Sunday, the Mavs will hit the road for games against Portland, Golden State, Phoenix and Oklahoma City.
All of those teams except the last-place Suns are ahead of Dallas in the Western Conference, making it a big week and a half for the Mavs, who are 18-24 but within sniffing distance of the playoffs.
"Honestly, we fell so far in the hole that every game's been big," Dirk Nowitzki said. "The [3-1] homestand was unbelievable for us, obviously. To make up three or four games in one week doesn't happen much. That shows that we've been playing better."
The Mavs are 3 1/2 games behind Houston for the eighth and final playoff spot out West.
No set rotation
With the way this season has unfolded for the Mavericks, the last thing Rick Carlisle is concerned about is establishing a set rotation.
"There's always going to be an element of fluidity to it," Carlisle said. "The other night [against Orlando] we decided to start Elton [Brand at center] the second half because he was rolling in the second quarter, and he came out and he missed four shots in a row.
"You just never know how all that stuff is going to work. ... We're doing some things better, but we've got to work at continuing to trend in the right way."
'A playoff franchise'
If the Mavs' players didn't know the franchise has advanced to the postseason the last 12 years, Rick Carlisle has been there to provide them with a history lesson.
"He just reminds us that this franchise is a playoff franchise," Dirk Nowitzki said. "We want to obviously make the playoffs.
"We saw two years ago that anything is possible. I don't think we rolled into the playoffs [in 2011] with a little momentum -- not even as a favorite -- and we got hot at the right moment and played our best basketball and won it all."
Dwain Price, 817-390-7760