The Dallas Mavericks are facing an unexpected, but franchise-altering scenario on Friday night when they face the Chicago Bulls. The team from the Windy City knows what is on the line, and the Bulls are planning on resting their two best players, but Dallas does not have that luxury. Luka Doncic made it clear, he wants to play if his team has a chance at postseason basketball after rumors circulated that the front office wanted to shut him down.
The Mavs have to win their final two regular-season games and the Thunder must lose to the Memphis Grizzlies on Sunday afternoon for Dallas to finish tenth in the Western Conference and in the final spot in the Play-In Tournament. The Mavericks would then need to win two straight games to reach the playoffs as the eighth seed and a date against the Denver Nuggets would await. It seems extremely unlikely, but there is still a chance the Mavs are in the playoffs.
Friday’s game against the Bulls shifts the Mavericks' lottery fate dramatically and a win drastically increase the odds that Dallas sends the Knicks the 11th overall pick in the 2023 NBA Draft to complete the Kristaps Porzingis trade. Here is a look at why this game matters and why the Mavericks cannot shut down Luka Doncic for this contest.
Why the Dallas Mavericks need to lose to the Bulls to salvage their future
Dallas and Chicago are both 38-42 entering Friday’s showdown. The Bulls have locked up tenth in the Eastern Conference, and they will be in the Play-In Tournament. That gives Chicago the luxury of resting their best players with a likely top-ten draft pick on the line.
The loser of the April 7 showdown will likely finish with the tenth-worst record in the NBA this season and the winner the 11th, which is massive for the Mavericks. They owe their 2023 first-round pick to the Knicks with a top-ten protection. If Dallas finishes with the tenth-worst record, they have a 79.8 percent chance of keeping their pick. Those odds drop to 9.4 percent with the 11th-worst because Dallas has to move up into the top four to retain their selection.
If the Bulls win and the Mavericks lose on Sunday, they would finish with the same record and a coin flip would take place to see who gets the better lottery odds. That would be a franchise-altering coin flip if it happens. If Chicago wins two games in the Play-In Tournament and reaches the playoffs, they would no longer be in the lottery, which means the Mavericks would move ahead of them in the draft.
Likely the winner on Friday night drops to the 11th-worst record and stays there. The Dallas Mavericks doomsday scenario is potentially playing out where they owe the Knicks the 11th pick as they miss both the postseason and keeping their draft pick.
Luka Doncic is not going to want to rest on Friday night because it is Slovenian Night in Dallas with many people from number 77’s home country visiting for the game. No way he wants to end his season sitting on the bench and losing to the undermanned Bulls to try to keep their draft pick after fans from Slovenia traveled nearly 9,000 miles to see the contest.
A loss does not guarantee the Dallas Mavericks anything. The draft lottery will take place on May 16, and the top four selections will be chosen. If a team below Dallas or the Mavericks themselves jump up, they get a top-four pick. It could potentially push Dallas down to the 11th selection and force their pick to convey to the Knicks anyways.
Do the Dallas Mavericks win on Friday night and root for the Grizzlies to pull off the upset on the final day of the regular season to keep their postseason hopes alive or do they tank for a top-ten draft pick? The Mavs will try to win, but they may regret it on May 16 when the 11th overall pick heads to New York to complete the KP trade. Stay tuned to find out.