The Dallas Mavericks have made the NBA playoffs 12 straight seasons, but they will need to give a Herculean effort over their last 19 regular season games if they want to make it a baker’s dozen. At 30-33 they sit in 10th place in the competitive Western Conference.
To that cause, coach Rick Carlisle’s guys have won their past four games and head into San Antonio tonight hoping to extend their winning ways to a season-high 5 consecutive victories.
Standing in the way will be their instate nemesis, the West-leading 49-16 Spurs. However, when 5X NBA All-Star PG Tony Parker went down with a sprained ankle on March 1st it made San Antonio eminently more beatable.
In two of the last three contests, coach Gregg Popovich’s squad has fallen to the 29-34 Trail Blazers and the 22-40 Timberwolves.
The 107-83 loss at Minnesota on Tuesday was played without starting forwards Tim Duncan and Kawhi Leonard, who are both battling sore knees.
But the 136-106 shellacking by Portland at home on March 8th with the Spurs’ full compliment of players minus Parker was a true shock.
It’s hard to paint a bleak picture in Silver & Black when the Spurs also went to OKC this past Monday and emerged victorious 105-93. However, Tuesday’s loss to the Wolves allowed the Thunder to get within just one game of their best-in-the-West record.
Dallas last played on Tuesday night at Milwaukee. Behind balanced scoring and Vince Carter’s 23 points off the bench, including 3 3-pointers in the fourth quarter, the Mavs came out on top 115-108.
Tonight’s 48 will be the fourth game between these two sides. The Spurs have won all three previous matchups by an average of 23 points, including a 129-91 dismantling on December 23rd at the AT&T Center. In addition, the Alamo City ballers are an impressive 26-4 at home this season.
Both Duncan and Leonard are expected to be back in the Spurs’ starting lineup, while Dallas’s veteran forward Shawn ‘The Matrix’ Marion will miss his fourth game with a left calf contusion.
Tune in to TNT at 8:00 PM ET to see if San Antonio can sweep the season series from Big D for the first time in 15 years.
With 11X All-Star Dirk Nowitzki still recovering from an off-season knee surgery, the Mavs have struggled to find a team identity and consistent production.
Coach Rick Carlisle has tinkered with his player rotations as well as his starting five, inserting 11 different guys from his roster in this first third of the schedule.
Dallas is searching for an effective formula on both offense and defense. They currently rank 27th in the NBA in points allowed at 101.5 per game.
On the other bench, the Heat have played well so far, notwithstanding a few baffling losses. They hit the road after playing 10 of their last 11 games at home.
King James leads the team in points, boards and dimes with 25.2, 8.5 and 6.9 respectively. The 3X league MVP has scored at least 20 points in each of Miami’s 22 games, the first player to do so since Karl Malone in the 1989-90 season.
The rest of the Heat’s Big 3, D-Wade and Chris Bosh, are still competing at All-Star levels. With the off-season addition of the all-time 3-point champ Ray Allen coming off the bench, many hoops commentators predicted a possible 70-win season for coach Erik Spoelstra’s squad.
Miami is up there at 4th in the league in scoring with 103.1 ppg. But they are getting crushed on the boards, ranking second to last in the league at 38.3 rpg.
The Heat last played on Tuesday night in South Beach where they beat Minnesota 103-92 behind LeBron’s 22 points, 11 assists, 6 boards and 4 blocks. The Mav’s most recent 48 was Tuesday in Big D as they bested the 76ers 107-100.
First-year Maverick guard O.J. Mayo led the team with 26 points, 8 assists and 3 steals. With Dirk out, Mayo has assumed the alpha scorer role, averaging 20.6 ppg, and has started all 25 games.
Tune in to TNT tonight at 9:30 PM ET to watch the last two NBA champions and 2011 Finals combatants do battle deep in the heart of Texas.