The Dallas Mavericks are locked in a tight race to avoid the play-in tournament. They sit sixth in the Western Conference before the games on May 4. The Mavs are a half-game up on the Portland Trail Blazers. Only the top six teams in each conference advance directly to the playoffs in 2021. Teams seven through ten are part of the play-in tournament. Fans can get all the details on how it works here.
Luka Doncic has no plans of letting the Mavericks slip into the play-in. He has lifted them to six wins in their last eight games. Dallas is just a half-game behind the Lakers for fifth. It will be a heated battle between the Los Angeles, Portland, and the Mavs with one of those teams ending up in the play-in tournament.
What are the chances Dallas falls into the play-in? How far can they still drop in the standings? Here is a closer look at what can happen to the Mavs over the final eight games of the regular season.
Dallas Mavericks are favored to finish fifth in Western Conference
The Mavs will be playing postseason basketball. They are 7.5 games up on the Pelicans, who sit 11th in the Western Conference. New Orleans would have to win their final seven games and Dallas would have to lose all eight of their remaining contests for them to fall out of the play-in tournament. That scenario is virtually impossible.
Basketball-Reference gives the Mavericks a 55.0 percent chance of finishing fifth in the Western Conference in their latest playoff odds. They have an 81.4 percent chance of avoiding the play-in tournament.
Tiebreakers help Dallas significantly. The Mavericks won the season series against the Lakers, so Dallas takes the higher seed if the two teams end up with the same record. The first tiebreaker in a three-way scenario is division winner. The Mavs are four games ahead of the Grizzlies for the Southwest Division lead, which gives them the edge over the Lakers and Trail Blazers in a three-way tie.
Basketball-Reference pegs Dallas to be part of the play-in tournament in 18.6 percent of their simulations. 10.5 percent of the time they sit seventh and would host both games in the worst-case scenario. The Mavericks finish eighth in five percent, but would still get two chances to win one game to advance to the playoffs.
No team wants to be part of the play-in tournament. Stephen Curry and the Golden State Warriors are primed to advance in one of the two spots. The Blazers, Lakers, or Mavericks are favorites to grab the other. The play-in has added plenty of excitement to the final eight regular-season games for Dallas Mavericks fans. They are watching the ticker every night to see where their team stands.
The Dallas Mavericks need to take care of inferior teams down the stretch to avoid the play-in tournament. Six of their final eight games are against teams with a .500 or worse record. Winning each of those games should allow the Mavs to finish in the top six and advance directly to the playoffs. Stay tuned to see how it plays out down the stretch.