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For the Mavericks, the NBA Playoffs Start Tonight

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    NEWSLETTERS

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    Dallas' Dirk Nowitzki and Tim Duncan, of the Spurs, Dec. 26, 2013.

    The NBA Playoffs begin this weekend.

    But Game 1 for the Dallas Mavericks comes Wednesday night.

    The Mavs have already clinched a post-season berth and can reach the rare air of another 50-win season tonight. But the stakes are much greater as they face the Grizzlies in Memphis: Avoiding the Spurs.

    San Antonio was the league’s best team all season and the veteran Spurs swept both the Mavs and the Grizzlies, 4-0. Neither team wants a piece of the No. 1 seed, and the winner of tonight’s regular-season finale gets to side-step the Spurs and instead get a matchup with No. 2 seed Oklahoma City Thunder.

    With not having played since Saturday and not play again until Saturday – at the earliest – there’s no reason to rest Dirk Nowitzki or any players tonight. The winner tonight gets the No. 7 seed. And – whether either team will admit it – the stakes are high.

    Memphis and Dallas each have wins over the Thunder this season and undoubtedly like their chances against Kevin Durant than Tim Duncan. The Grizzlies, who qualified for the playoffs by winning in Phoenix Monday night, have won 13 consecutive home games.

    The way the Spurs have dominated the league in general, and the Mavs in specific – nine consecutive wins over two seasons – just winning one game in a series against San Antonio would be an accomplishment. Beating the Thunder four times would be much more realistic.

    In other words, welcome to the most meaningful meaningless regular-season finale in the history of the Mavericks.

    A native Texan who was born in Duncanville and graduated from UT-Arlington, Richie Whitt has been a mainstay in the Metroplex media since 1986. He’s held prominent roles on all media platforms including newspaper (Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Dallas Observer), radio (105.3 The Fan) and TV (co-host on TXA 21 and numerous guest appearances, including NBC 5). He currently lives in McKinney with his wife, Sybil, and two very spoiled dogs.