Undermanned Mavs Still on Verge of Unlikely Playoff Berth

The Mavs are 0-4 against the Thunder this season. They haven’t come close to beating the Spurs. And their lone win over the Warriors came without an injured Steph Curry.

Even though their next win might be their final win, it’ll be an impressive, dramatic achievement for this team to make the playoffs.

After getting shunned by DeAndre Jordan and forced to resort to Plan B in free agency, I predicted the Mavs would be a Lottery team. I was wrong. At least I’m pretty sure I’m wrong.

Despite a slew of late-season injuries that has them playing without Chandler Parsons and now J.J. Barea, the Mavs can clinch their playoff berth with a win tonight in Utah. It could’ve happened Sunday in Los Angeles, but they had their six-game winning streak snapped convincingly by the Clippers.

So with two games remaining, their magic number remains at one. A win tonight or Wednesday at home against the Spurs and they’ll sneak in as the 6th, 7th or 8th seed. They can also get in with a loss by the Rockets against either the Timberwolves (tonight) or Kings (Wednesday). Regardless of their first-round matchup against Golden State, San Antonio or Oklahoma City, the Mavs would be huge underdogs to win a game, much less take the series.

But first things first. And it won’t be easy, as the Jazz are also fighting to cling to the 8th spot or even move up to 7th to avoid the 72-win Warriors.

“We’ve got to earn our way in,” coach Rick Carlisle said. “We knew that coming into this, and that’s the way it should be.”

With Deron Williams back and Barea possibly returning after missing a game with a groin injury, these are the Mavs. Best-case scenario? They beat the Jazz and Spurs and wind up No. 6 and face the Thunder.

It’s no picnic, as the Thunder are just athletically too much for Dallas. But it’s the best option the Mavs have. And, considering where they started, it’s not too bad after all.

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 lives in McKinney with his wife, Sybil, and two very spoiled dogs.

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