By Bryan Murphy
Five games remain on the schedule in the 2014-2015 regular season for your Dallas Mavericks. Honestly, these last five games on the docket really don’t mean a whole bunch seeing as the red-hot six seed Spurs are now five games up on Dallas and the Kevin Durant-less Oklahoma City Thunder are four games behind the Mavs in the eighth seed. Barring anything disastrous such as Dallas losing out and the Thunder winning out, the Mavericks should and will finish as the seven seed. Two questions still remain, who will be the number two seed that Dallas will play in that first round and who do the Mavs have the best chance against to advance to the second round. But, we’ll dive more into that next week when the playoff seeding is a little more set in stone because the 2-6 seeds still technically have a chance to snag that number two seed and play the struggling Mavs.
Even though OKC winning out is about as likely as the Celtics going to the Finals, the Mavs could still use some wins this week not only to ensure that seven seed (which would avoid playing the one seed, 63-14 Warriors in the first round) but also to give themselves a little spark heading into the postseason. The Mavs have lost six of their last eight games, all but one of those being against West opponents with a winning record.
One of those losses was at the hands of the Phoenix Suns, a team the Mavs have failed to defeat in three games this season. The Mavs will look to avenge those three previous losses on Wednesday night when the Suns come to town. The previous meeting between these two squads was on March 22 and was one of the most frustrating games to watch for Mavs fans this season. The Mavs had the lead late but failed to hit shots and get clutch stops down the stretch. That was also the infamous Monta meltdown game where Monta Ellis shot 4-of-22 and 0-of-8 in the fourth quarter. The Suns have a plethora of forwards, highlighted by the Morris brothers, who give the Mavs and teams around the league a difficult time. The Morris bros each recorded double-doubles in that last meeting with Markieff Morris hitting the dagger baseline jumper that sealed the victory for Phoenix. My player to watch will be the high-flying NBA journeyman Gerald Green. Green is capable of going off any given night while also giving NBA fans some exciting dunk highlights throughout the season as well. Green dropped 24 points on 10-of-17 shooting in the Suns’ last outing, almost doubling his season average of 11.5 ppg.
The Mavs then venture on up to the mile high city to square off against the Denver Nuggets for the final time this season. The Nuggets are well out of the playoff picture and have lost their last four games by an average margin of over 16 points. Frankly, Denver has been a disappointment and an embarrassment all season long. Sporting an abysmal 28-49 record, there have even been multiple reports of the team tanking the past few months. Can you blame them?
It’s fairly common in the NBA for teams that know they have absolutely no shot at being a title contender or playoff team to “tank” in attempt to get a lottery pick in the draft. Just look at the god-awful 76ers. Basically, this should be an easy win for the Mavs.
Speaking of easy wins, it doesn’t get much easier than playing the 2014-2015 Los Angeles Lakers and that’s what the Mavs will do to cap off the week on Sunday night. The Lakers, who are one of the most storied franchises in all of sports, have just been a complete mess all season long. Losing their top pick Julius Randle early in the year to injury and their rapidly aging, future hall of famer Kobe Bryant doesn’t help, but Jordan Clarkson has been one of the best Lakers in the second half of the season. Who? Exactly my point.
I’ll be shocked if the Mavs don’t take care of business in all three games this week and inch closer to that 50-win mark on the season. The Mavs have struggled as of late, especially against top tier teams and the Mavs know it. A big winning streak would be ideal heading into the playoffs especially after Mavs Center Tyson Chandler had a message this week for the teams potentially wanting to play Dallas in the first round: “Be careful what you ask for.”
4/8 vs Suns 8:30 pm
4/10 @Nuggets 8:00 pm
4/12 @Lakers 8:30 pm