The 42-29 Dallas Mavericks have clinched a playoff berth and enter the season finale against the Minnesota Timberwolves with little clarity beyond that. Minnesota is currently tied with the Cavaliers for the fifth best lottery odds. They have every incentive to lose and may employ a skeleton crew against the Mavericks. Dallas, on the other hand, is currently alone in fifth place but could easily slide to sixth with a loss and Portland Blazer win. Let’s break down the playoff scenarios for the Mavericks and what to watch for.
Dallas Win + Clipper Win + Nugget Win = 4v5 against Clippers
Dallas Win + Clipper Win + Nugget Loss= 4v5 against Nuggets
Dallas Win + Clipper Loss + Nugget Win= 4v5 against Clippers
Dallas Win + Clipper Loss + Nugget Loss= 4v5 against Clippers
Dallas Loss + Clippers Win + Nuggets Win = 4v5 against Clippers
Dallas Loss + Clippers Win + Nuggets Loss = 3v6 against Clippers
Dallas Loss + Clippers Loss +Nuggets Win = 4v5 against Clippers
Dallas Loss + Clippers Loss + Nuggets Loss = 3v6 against Nuggets
Based on the scenarios above, the Mavericks will likely face off against the Los Angeles Clippers in the first round of the playoffs. It’s likely both the Nuggets and Clippers will look to tank their final game. For the Nuggets, a loss would ensure they avoid a first-round matchup against the Los Angeles Lakers. For the Clippers, it increases the chances they lock in a first-round matchup against the Dallas Mavericks. With the return of Serge Ibaka and success against the Mavericks in last season's playoffs, a loss would help lock in a favorable first-round matchup and put them in a bracket opposite of the Lakers. All of the games affecting the Mavericks tip-off at 8:00 p.m. CST and their playoff future may well come down to the last few seconds of the regular season. Buckle up and enjoy.