The Dallas Mavericks finished the NBA Summer League preliminary games with a 3-1 record, which was good enough to earn the 6-seed in the eight team tournament that will begin play on Saturday.
Gone are the (very short) days of the 30-team, single elimination tournament that determined the winner of the NBA Summer League. Although it was only around for one year, it will be dearly missed as one of the more exciting playoff opportunities out there. Instead, the summer league officials decided to turn the playoff into an 8-team event.
The Dallas Mavericks, fortunately, found themselves in this 8-team group. After four play-in games for every team, the Mavs earned the 6-seed. The eight teams that made the playoffs are as follows: (1) Boston Celtics, (2) Detroit Pistons, (3) Minnesota Timberwolves, (4) New Orleans Pelicans, (5) Miami Heat, (6) Dallas Mavericks, (7) Brooklyn Nets and (8) Memphis Grizzlies.
This is structured like any other tournament with the top seed playing the bottom seed and so on. Dallas is matched up with the Minnesota Timberwolves for their first game, which will be held on Saturday at 9:30 central time. Minnesota was one of three teams that went undefeated in their four play-in games.
The Timberwolves were led by great team play from guys like Keita Bates-Diop, Josh Okogie, Naz Reid, Mitchell Creek and Jordan McLaughlin. Their run to the top went through the Cleveland Cavaliers, Atlanta Hawks, Milwaukee Bucks and Miami Heat.
Dallas has also been led by a handful of different guys. The most impressive play has come from Cameron Payne, followed by guys like Josh Reaves, Antonius Cleveland, Isaiah Roby and Shayne Whittington. Dallas beat the Brooklyn Nets and Houston Rockets before falling to the Sacramento Kings. They wrapped it up with a win over Croatia.
These two teams will face-off in a single-elimination game on Saturday evening, with the winner getting a chance to play against the winner of the Detroit vs. Brooklyn game. Another win there would put the Mavs in the championship game.
A lot of this could depend on whether or not Cam Payne plays for Dallas. He sat the last game against Croatia and the Mavericks struggled to separate themselves from a team they should’ve beaten by a good margin. If Payne plays, the Mavs have a great shot. If he doesn’t, someone will have to step up.
For those curious about the other 24 teams that participated but did not make it in the top eight, they will be competing in a similar consolation, single-elimination tournament. Those games will begin today at 3:00 central time.