The Dallas Mavericks are in the playoffs. That's the good news.
The bad news is that in the regular season's final night the Mavericks have relinquished the 7th seed in the Western Conference to the Memphis Grizzlies, who beat Dallas in overtime thanks to a pair of Mike Conley free throws with 1.1 seconds left.
Dirk Nowitzki had 30 points, and hit a big three pointer in overtime that put 105-102 with 46 seconds left. This came after Monta Elis hit a huge clutch three of his own with 13 seconds left in regulation that tied the game at 93. Unfortunately, Memphis would score the final four points of the game in OT and snatched the victory back from the visiting Mavs.
Ellis finished with 18 points, and Brandan Wright and Devin Harris added 10 apiece off the bench.
For Memphis, Zach Randolph tried his best to match Dirk Nowitzki point for point, with a rock solid 27-14 double-double. Mike Conley had 22 and hit a pair of three throws with just 1.1 seconds left to give the Grizzlies the final lead.
The Dallas Mavericks will now have to face the San Antonio Spurs as the 8th seed. In case you forgot, Dallas has lost nine straight against the Spurs. Obviously, had Dallas won and drawn a matchup against the Thunder, they would have hardly been the consensus favorite to advance, but their chances certainly seemed better.
Still, at least Dallas gets to keep playing.
This game had a playoff atmosphere right from the start. Memphis came roaring out of the gate, punishing Dallas inside and getting a double-digit lead in the first at 28-18. In the second, the Mavs responded with their best offensive quarter, and went into halftime with a two point lead.
Dallas had a six point lead with a little under eight minutes left in the fourth, before a 13-4 run by Memphis put the Grizz back ahead with a minute and a half remaining in regulation. That would be the margin until 13 seconds left, when Monta Ellis nailed a clutch three-point bomb to tie the game. Zach Randolph missed a stepback jumper the next possession, and the game went into overtime.
In overtime, Ellis would continue his hot streak, scoring seven straight points for the Mavericks to put Dallas up four. After Memphis tied the game, a first-pumping Dirk three put the Mavs back ahead. In that moment, it really felt like the visiting team was going to steal this one.
Undoubtedly, the play of the game came when Mike Conley grabbed the rebound off a Monta Ellis miss with seven seconds left and charged at the opposing basket. Though he appeared very much out of control, he managed to draw contact from Vince Carter, and the referees blew the whistle. Conley made both free throws and Dallas missed a desperation shot as time expired.
- Let's not get into what was the right or wrong call. It's really tough to lose a game on a foul call with a second left. Nevermind that this game has major consequences on the postseason. Mike Conley took a chance and all the credit to him for making the free throws, but it was not the type of play you typically see win a basketball game.
- It's also always tough to lose when Dirk looks so good. Nowitzki put up 30 points to lead all scorers, and was by far the team's best player in plus/minus at +8. Nowitzki also had four blocks, demonstrating more proof that the Big German really wanted this one.
- 14 of Monta's 18 came in the last eight minutes of the game(including OT). It was one of those games where Monta looked like a superstar after the third quarter and was almost completely invisible before. He finished 8-21 from the field and didn't get to the foul line.
- Devin Harris and Brandan Wright were terrific off the bench, and both stole minutes from their starting counterparts, Jose Caldeorn and Samuel Dalembert. Harris had 10 points and 10 assists, and Brandan Wright made all five of his field goals and played surprisingly good defense at center given the Grizzlies beefy front line.
- I think it bears repeating, Brandan Wright played a lot more than I would have expected, as it's not an ideal matchup on paper.
- Speaking of surprising, I can't recall too many games where Dallas was competitive despite getting next to nothing from three(8-30, 26%) or the free throw line(9-11). They were also outrebounded 48-39. Yet, they led both in the fourth quarter and overtime and did not appear overmatched or in over their head against Memphis.