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The tinkering begins tonight, and apparently we'll see Austin Croshere get the start.

The juggled lineup -- Croshere and DeSagana Diop are expected to start tonight -- allows Johnson to see different groupings in a game environment.

"We're always experimenting," Johnson said. "Always. That's an ongoing process no matter who's in uniform."

Croshere called it a sense of relief.

"A little bit when you look at it from the standpoint of goals that were set for the regular season -- to win the division, have the best record in the conference, in the league, and now to still have the ability with five games left to rest guys without having to rest all the main guys in one game," he said. "You can spread it out, and, if you want, you can play everybody in the last game or two to stay sharp. You have a lot of options. Doing it early is really advantageous."

Sefko has a good article about how excited the team is to have this "rest" before the playoffs.
The Mavericks didn't want to admit it or say it publicly, but they were whipped after a stretch in which they were on the road for 17 of 20 days.

That's why Nowitzki, Jerry Stackhouse and Erick Dampier stayed in Dallas on Tuesday while the rest of the Mavericks headed for the frozen north.

And it's why the Minnesota Timberwolves tonight - and Utah on Friday - are likely to see a steady diet of Austin Croshere, Moe Ager and J.J. Barea.

"More than anything, we were exhausted," coach Avery Johnson said. "It's not an excuse. But we were exhausted mentally and physically. We seem to have rejuvenated a little. I think we're getting ourselves back from that long, exhausting period."
Sefko adds that Devin Harris, Jason Terry, and Josh Howard will eventually sit out a game as well.


Erick Dampier received good news after an MRI on his shoulder -- it came back negative. He's not playing tonight but says he could if he needed to.


The battle for the 8th seed is really getting interesting. The Warriors hold the spot right now, but the Clippers are a half game back and the Hornets only one. As mentioned by others in the comments, playing the Hornets in the first round would be great because the travel would be nonexistent. That and the Mavs have about a 100 game win streak against them...

The Warriors seem to have the easiest remaining schedule.


Around the NBA: Memphis has clinched the worst record in the NBA.

Robert Horry is considering retirement.

Dwyane Wade is still feeling hurt, or at least that's what he's telling people.