DALLAS MAVERICKS (49-32) at MEMPHIS GRIZZLIES (49-32)- April 16 at FedExForum (8:00 p.m. ET on ESPN)
With no bigger game to end the 2013-14 regular season, the Dallas Mavericks and Memphis Grizzlies battle it out for the rights to the 7th-seed at FedExForum on April 16. Game starts at 8:00 p.m. ET and can be seen nationally on ESPN as well as Fox Sports Southwest with Mark Followill and Derek Harper.
Dirk Nowitzki and Monta Ellis combined to score 60 points, 44 in the 2nd half, as the Mavericks overcame a 13-point deficit to defeat the Phoenix Suns 101-98 on April 12 in the regular-season home finale.
Ellis dropped a season-high-tying 37 points, 23 after halftime (12 in the 4th), while Nowitzki scored 21 of his 23 points after the break. The duo went off for 25 of the Mavericks’ 29 3rd-quarter points.
The Mavericks led 97-89 with 3:30 left to play before the Suns scored nine of the next 11 to cut the score to 99-98. Ellis went 2-of-4 from the line to give Phoenix a final chance, but Brandan Wright had a big block on Eric Bledsoe with 12 seconds left to help Dallas win its 49th game and clinch a playoff spot for the first time in two years.
For Memphis, it secured the 16th and final spot in the NBA playoffs after defeating said-Suns, 97-91 on April 14 behind Zach Randolph’s 32 points and nine boards. Mike Miller added a season-high 21 on 8-of-11 shooting (5-of-6 from three) in 30 minutes off the bench.
The Grizzlies led 46-33 before the Suns finished the 1st half on a 9-0 run and scored the first five points of the 3rd to take a 47-46 lead. From there, both teams would trade blows before Memphis pulled away late in the final frame.
LOS SUNS: Both teams faced off with the Suns, winning, and knocking out Phoenix out of the postseason despite a terrific season from Goran Dragic and 1st-year head coach Jeff Hornacek.
(Mavs-Suns Highlights, April 12)
(Griz-Suns Highlights, April 14)
ANYBODY BUT THE SPURS: I can’t speak on the Grizzlies’ behalf, but there’s a sense that neither team wants to face the NBA-leading San Antonio Spurs in the 1st round of the playoffs. The Spurs are 8-0 against both Southwest rivals this season, sweeping the Mavs the past two years while winning the last eight match ups with the Grizzlies, including a sweep in last season’s Western Conference Finals. Memphis has lost by an average of 11.1 points in that span while the Mavericks sit at 14.5 points per loss in their last eight with the Spurs. This season’s scores…
April 10: Spurs 109, Mavs 100
April 6: Spurs 112, Grizzlies 92
March 2: Spurs 112, Mavs 106
Jan. 8: Spurs 112, Mavs 90
Jan. 7: Spurs 110, Grizzlies 108 (OT)
Dec. 26: Spurs 116, Mavs 107
Nov. 22: Spurs 102, Grizzlies 86
Oct. 30: Spurs 101, Grizzlies 94
BACK IN THE PLAYOFFS: The Mavericks return to the NBA postseason after missing out last season at 41-41. Dallas made the playoffs for 12-consecutive seasons prior to 2012-13, making it to the NBA Finals in 2006 and winning it all in 2011 for their first title in franchise history. Also prior to the lockout-shortened 2011-12 season when the Mavs finished 36-30 before a 1st-round sweep to OKC, Dallas did win 50 games for 11-straight seasons and have a chance to hit the 50-win mark once again with a win over the Grizzlies on Wednesday. If you think about it, this team has some similarities to those of the 2011 title team. Nowitzki is still the go-to-guy while Ellis can penetrate or create his own shot alas Jason Terry. It’s a stretch, but Wright has been our best defensive player as of recent like Tyson Chandler that year, even though he started. Vince Carter can be a spark off the bench like a J.J. Barea or Peja Stojakovic and Jose Calderon does just enough to contribute at point like a Jason Kidd.
SEASON SERIES: The Mavericks own the tiebreaker with the Grizzlies, but that won’t matter come Wednesday. Dallas does have a chance to sweep the Grizzlies for the first time in six seasons. Dirk and company has won the first three match ups by an average score of 109-95.
Game 1 (Nov. 2): Nowitzki led six players in double figures with 24 points and the Mavs went 40-of-46 from the line as Dallas defeated the Grizzlies 111-99. Shawn Marion added 21 points and 14 boards while Mike Conley, Marc Gasol and Randolph all scored 20 or more points. The Grizzlies committed 34 fouls.
Game 2 (Dec. 18): Nowitzki scored 20 points after missing a game with a stomach virus and Dallas defeated Memphis 105-91. Ellis added 18 as Dallas shot 55 percent from the field. Gasol and Conley did not play.
Game 3 (Feb. 5): Nowitzki scored 26 points, Wright added 17 and the Mavericks used a 2nd-half surge to grab a 110-96 victory over Memphis. Conley once again sat out, but Randolph led with a team-high 25 points while Courtney Lee added 22.
AROUND THE NBA: With two days left in the regular season, eight teams have yet to lock up its playoff seed. The Indiana Pacers and Spurs have clinched the top spots in their respected conference while the Thunder, Clippers, Raptors, Bulls, Bobcats and Wizards join the Mavs and Grizzlies in the chaotic shuffle. Out West, two and three could be flipped while Houston and Portland are set to meet up in the four-five match up with the Rockets owning home court. Only one match up is set out East as well with the Pacers taking on the Atlanta Hawks. This year there has been a large out cry about possible changes in the offseason for new commissioner Adam Silver, one of which is to take away conferences and put the top-16 records into the playoffs. The Hawks will be under-.500 and won’t reach 40 wins while the Minnesota T’Wolves, at 40-41, would make it in the Eastern Conference playoffs. Not to mention the Suns, who have a chance to win their 48th game on Wednesday in Sacramento, but will still have to settle for the lottery.
SERIES LEADERS: Scoring leaders from both teams, but only those who played in all three season match ups.
Dirk Nowitzki- 23.3 points
Zach Randolph- 20 points
Monta Ellis- 16.7 points
Shawn Marion- 13 points
Vince Carter- 12.7 points
Samuel Dalembert- 12 points
Jose Calderon- 10.7 points
Mike Miller- 4 points
X-FACTORS: Wright is coming off a 12-point/11-rebound/3-block effort against Phoenix. Playing in only 57 games due to injury, Wright will finish his 3rd year in Big D with career-highs in field goal percentage and free-throws made. If he had qualified, Wright’s 67.2 field-goal percentage would rank 2nd behind DeAndre Jordan’s 67.5 percent. Miller has played in 81 games and looks to play in all 82, his most since playing in all 82 during his rookie season with the Magic in 2000-01. He ranks 3rd in the league in 3-point percentage.
Season- 9 points/4.2 rebounds/1 block/67.2 percent in 57 games
Last 10 games- 8.4 points/4.7 rebounds/1.3 blocks/67.3 percent
In April- 9.6 points/4.4 rebounds/1 block/65.9 percent in 7 games
Season- 7.1 points/2.5 rebounds/1.6 assists/48.4 percent/46.3 percent (3pt) in 81 games
Last 10 games- 7.8 points/2.4 rebounds/1.8 assists/54.4 percent
In April- 9.1 points/2.3 rebounds/1.7 assists/55.6 percent/52.2 percent (3pt) in 7 games
POSSIBLE PLAYOFF MATCH UPS: The Thunder and Clippers are still battling for 2nd and 3rd out West. OKC has a 1.5-game lead over LAC for 2nd and the only way the Clippers can jump OKC is if they win their final two (vs DEN, @ POR) while OKC has to lose in Detroit on Wednesday. Anything different and the Thunder will be a lock to face the 7th seed. As mentioned before, the Mavs could drop to 8th and face the Spurs, who have won nine straight match ups. The Mavericks would gladly take OKC or LAC. Dallas is 2-1 vs OKC this season. The Mavs won by 23 points on the road, but the Thunder were without Russell Westbrook. He did play in the series final game as Dallas won at home in overtime. Dallas could very well be 4-0 vs the Clips, but have settled for a 1-3 mark. Dallas held a double-digit lead in all four, losing the first three. The Mavericks are able to lead against the Clippers, but the real question is which frontcourt would Dallas rather go up against, Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan or Kendrick Perkins and Serge Ibaka.
TEAM HAVE IT ALL: Ellis was selected as the Western Conference player of the week on April 14. He won the honor on the strength of leading the Mavericks to a 2-1 record and averaging 25.7 points, 4.7 assists and 4.0 rebounds. Ellis connected on 15-of-23 field goals against Phoenix. This comes a week after Nowitzki won the honor last week, marking the first time in franchise history that two Mavericks teammates garnered the award in consecutive weeks.
Season- 21.6 points/6.2 rebounds/49.6 percent/40 percent (3pt) in 79 games
Last 10 games- 23.6 points/7.8 rebounds/3.5 assists/55 percent/35.3 minutes
Vs Memphis- 23.3 points/6 rebounds/3 assists/57.8 percent/66.7 percent (3pt) in 3 games
In April- 23.4 points/7.4 rebounds/58.2 percent/56.3 percent (3pt) in 7 games
Season- 19 points/3.6 rebounds/5.8 assists/1.7 steals/45.2 percent in 81 games
Last 10 games- 19.3 points/3.6 rebounds/6 assists/1.5 steals/42.3 percent/38.9 minutes
Vs Memphis- 16.7 points/4.3 rebounds/3.3 assists/38.1 percent in 3 games
In April- 21 points/3.6 rebounds/6 assists/45.7 percent in 7 games