The Dallas Mavericks could’ve made a statement Thursday night.
Yet, for the ninth straight time, the San Antonio Spurs beat their in-state rival. This time, without Tony Parker.
If only the Mavs had known that Golden State would lose later that night. Dallas would be sitting a half game behind the Warriors for the sixth spot in the Western Conference.
Not to mention, had the Mavs won, that magic number to clinch would’ve been one.
But here we are, Dallas still sitting with that magic number of two, with two games to go. It’s going to be the biggest games of the year for the Mavs against the two teams they’re fighting over the last two playoff spots with: Memphis and Phoenix.
There’s still a puncher’s chance that Dallas creeps up to the sixth spot, if Dallas finishes the deal in these last two games and Golden State falters. The Mavs are considered one of the more dangerous teams heading into the playoffs as a low seed, but it depends who they face.
Here are the possible matchups that await Dallas, if they get there.
Los Angeles Clippers (3 vs. 6)
After watching Dallas and L.A. go at it for four entertaining games, I wouldn’t mind seeing a seven-game series between these two. The Clippers are considered favorites in the Western Conference, but the Mavs have gone to the wire with Chris Paul, Blake Griffin and Co. each game.
However, in three of those games, the Mavs had the lead in the fourth quarter and lost each one of them, but I digress. Bottom line, is Dallas can hang with the Clippers. They’ve proven it.
The only concern would be DeAndre Jordan dominating Samuel Dalembert on the offensive glass. That’s where the Clippers have the edge. Other than that, Dallas won’t turn the ball over much against Los Angeles and give the Clippers easy points at the other end.
Oklahoma City Thunder (2 vs. 7)
Another matchup I wouldn’t mind, just for the fact that Dallas and Oklahoma City has become a must-see rivalry.
The Mavs have shown they can beat OKC, especially in the last two meetings. The one in Oklahoma City was a beatdown, courtesy of the Mavs. The final game in Dallas showed that Dirk Nowitzki is coming to life and is ready for playoff basketball.
Kevin Durant has been known to have historic games against Dallas. This year’s eventual MVP will be more determined than ever to get back to the NBA Finals. Plus, he’s got a healthy Russell Westbrook. That might be a challenge for Dallas, but at least the Mavs know they can hang with the Thunder.
San Antonio Spurs (1 vs. 8)
Oh, this can’t be good. If there’s any motivation for Dallas to win these last two games, it should be that the Mavs shouldn’t want to play the Spurs in the first round.
Although, in the playoffs, Dallas has found more recent success when these two get together. The Mavs have won two of the last three best-of-seven matchups against San Antonio. But that stat won’t matter because these Spurs are very efficient.
If the Spurs played the Mavs in a seven-game series, it would result in a sweep. I can’t see Dallas even stealing one game from the Spurs at home. Somehow, the Spurs find a way to be so good. Especially if San Antonio can defeat the Mavs from 3-point range like they did Thursday, it’ll be a long series.
All three matchups are difficult. But the Mavs would have the better chance of beating the Clippers. All it takes for Dallas is understanding that they need to close out games. If the Mavs can do that, then they should make it interesting against Lob City.
And if there’s one thing the Clippers don’t want to see, it’s Dirk Nowitzki in the playoffs.
First things first: Dallas needs to get there.
You can find Danny Webster on Twitter @DannyWebster21.
Tags: Dallas Mavericks