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Now that the Mavs have stretched their lead to seven games and have the first seed pretty much wrapped up, the importance of this game seem to have been subdued somewhat. Their last meeting seemed to have more hype. Unlike the last game, the regular season is basically over, and seeing Dirk and Josh Howard both be hurt last week has added to the "will the playoffs just get here" mentality.

Steve Nash knows that the number one seed is pretty much lost.

"Our team has been so up and down lately that we're not really thinking about where we finish, we're thinking about how we finish," Nash said. "We want to feel good and get our rhythm and get our confidence and swagger.

"This game will be a good test in that it can give us a great challenge to really work through the ups and downs we've had lately."
Eddie Sefko writes today game will be great entertainment, but doesn't actually mean anything. He says that Dirk has established a big enough lead in the MVP vote to even take away that storyline. I'm not sure I agree. As ridiculous as it is, if either Nash or Nowitzki greatly outplays the other this afternoon, and their team wins, that person might have won themselves an MVP trophy.

Gil LeBreton echoes that entertainment is the best storyline of the game, with plenty of quotes from Maverick players about how close these games always seem to be.
"It should be a great game," Jerry Stackhouse said. "Last game was a great game, a classic game. A lot of people are still talking about it. Hopefully, we can duplicate the same type of effort."
Not surprisingly, Avery Johnson is in the "it's just the regular season" camp.
"I guarantee if we win it, we still haven't won the championship," Johnson said. "And the same thing with them. But that's part of it and I think it's great. No matter how much we say it's not a make or break game for any of our teams, it's not going to be read that way.

"The last time we lost to them, every analyst had them winning the championship. Then when they lost the next two games, they supposedly weren't as good. So at the end of the day, nobody knows."

Mike D'Antoni is going to play even smaller and faster than usual today, even starting Leandro Barbosa.


Jeff Caplan has a Kevin Willis article.