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Mavericks: Why LeBron James returned at a bad time for Dallas

Dallas Mavericks LeBron James Luka Doncic Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports
Dallas Mavericks LeBron James Luka Doncic Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

The Dallas Mavericks have won five of their last six games as they attempt to avoid the play-in tournament. The Western Conference standings are jam-packed. Only six teams advance directly to the playoffs this season. Teams seven through ten go to the play-in tournament with two teams advancing. For more on the specifics of the play-in check here.

The Mavs are currently sixth in the West, but a recent two-games sweep of the Lakers means they could still move up. Los Angeles is just half a game ahead on the morning of May 1. The Lakers have lost five of their last six games. They have been shuffling since LeBron James went down with an ankle injury on March 20. LA was 8-12 without King James, but he returned on Friday night in a loss to the Sacramento Kings.

LeBron comes back to the lineup at a bad time for the Mavericks. Here is a closer look at why and what it means for the rest of the season.

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Why LeBron James returned at a bad time for the Dallas Mavericks

The Mavericks do not face the Lakers again during the regular season. Dallas won the final two meetings to take the season series and coveted playoff tiebreaker. If they win on Saturday against the Wizards, Luka Doncic and company will move into fifth in the West.

LeBron’s return comes at a bad time because he gives the Lakers a chance to hold onto fifth. Finishing sixth likely means a first-round date against the LA Clippers. Dallas does not want to take on Kawhi Leonard and Paul George in the playoffs again.

The Lakers have nine games left, including facing the Nuggets, Clippers, Blazers, and Suns in four of their next five. It is a difficult stretch, but LeBron looks ready. He had 16 points, eight rebounds, and seven assists in 32 minutes in his first game back. Expect Los Angeles to find their rhythm quickly and be a tough out the rest of the way.

The Dallas Mavericks have the fourth easiest remaining schedule, according to Tankathon. The Lakers have the tenth most difficult. Will that be enough to allow the Mavs to move into fifth? They would prefer facing Denver in the first round. Dallas’ odds of an upset would be high, especially with Jamal Murray out for the season.

Every game is important down the stretch for the Mavericks. LeBron James returned at a bad time, but Dallas controls their destiny over the next two weeks. Stay tuned to see how the wild race in the Western Conference shakes out.

Next. Should Luka Doncic be first-team All-NBA?