By Bryan Murphy
The Dallas Mavericks head into the final week of the regular season with 49 wins and two chances left to reach the elusive 50-win mark on the season. The Mavs have been doing exactly what they have needed to do lately. They beat the Suns for the first time this season, took down a very bad Denver Nuggets squad in double overtime while allowing some guys to get some rest down the stretch, and then destroyed an even worse Lakers team on Sunday night.
With the 7th seed locked up for nearly a week now, Dallas will most likely be resting most of its main guys for the Monday night showdown in Utah against the Jazz. According to ESPN’s Tim MacMahon’s Twitter, there is a fairly good chance that Tyson Chandler, Dirk, Monta, and Chandler Parsons will fly home on Mark Cuban’s jet instead of making the trip to Utah. Nonetheless, this gives more opportunities for other Mavs players to gear up for the postseason. Raymond Felton has been seeing more minutes these last few games and guys like Charlie Villanueva, who has never been in the playoffs in his 10 seasons in the NBA, can really continue to use this week to stay in rhythm for the playoffs.
Although many of the main Mavericks won’t suit up Monday night, you’ll still be able to watch some of the big-time young talent that this Jazz team possesses. Shooting guard Rodney Hood has been balling out as of late for Utah. Hood only averages 8.7 PPG but is pouring in 20 PPG in his last three outings and the Mavs will definitely have to look out for him. The main player for the Jazz that the Mavs will have to look out for is the Stifle Tower, Rudy Gobert. The 7 ft 1 in center has been terrorizing the league with his thunderous dunks and impressive blocks this season. Gobert has been exciting to watch, mainly on the highlight reels, where he has been finding himself on as of late. Gobert is a walking double-double, averaging 8.2 PPG, 9.4 RPG, and over two blocks per game on the year.
The Mavericks then close out the 2014-2015 season at home on Wednesday night against the Portland Trailblazers. Portland has locked up the four seed in the West playoff picture so seeding implications will not be on the line for either team in this season finale. But, I expect both the Mavericks and Blazers to use Wednesday night as a dress rehearsal for the playoffs while at the same time keeping their stars fresh and as healthy as possible. Portland received a massive blow when they lost their sharp-shooting two-guard Wesley Mathews to a leg injury over a month ago, but should still be a tough matchup for Dallas and whichever team they square off against in the first round as well thanks to their two superstars, Damian Lillard and LaMarcus Aldridge.
The Mavs have two objectives for this short week to close out the season; win at least one of the last two games to reach the 50 win plateau for the first time since the 2010-2011 championship season, and snag some momentum while keeping everyone healthy for the postseason. Hopefully for Mavs fans, Dallas can get win number 50 tonight in Utah.
4/13 @Jazz 8:00 pm
4/15 vs Trail Blazers 7:00 pm