With just 20 games left, the Dallas Mavericks are now looking toward the looming playoffs. There’s not much time left to move up in the standings, but there’s still a chance to secure home court advantage. What follows is a breakdown of where the Mavericks stand in the seedings, and where they could move up or fall to depending on how they and other teams perform.
The playoffs are virtually certain
The Mavericks would have to have a historic collapse in order to miss the playoffs. They are currently 12 games up on both the Portland Trail Blazers and the San Antonio Spurs. The Mavericks would have to finish out 4-16 and one of those teams rattle off something like 15-6 in order for them to miss the playoffs completely. That’s just not happening. Portland is already shutting down veterans like Jusuf Nurkic, more interested in improving their draft position than making the playoffs. It’s no surprise, but the Mavericks are safe here.
Avoiding the play-in tournament
The Mavericks are currently 3.5 games ahead of the Minnesota Timberwolves, who sit in the 7th seed. The Timberwolves currently sport a .540 winning percentage. If they continue to win at that clip, they’d go approximately 11-8 over their last 19 games. For the Mavericks to drop into the 7th seed, they’d have to sputter down the stretch and go 9-11 to be passed by Minnesota. Even if the Timberwolves got hot and went something like 15-4 to close the season, the Mavericks would only have to go 13-7 to hold them off. The way they’re playing right now, that shouldn’t be an issue.
The fourth through sixth seed is where the drama will be
Of their remaining 21 games, the Jazz will face a team with a winning record 11 times. They’re on the road for 12 of those final 21 games, and play 5 back-to-backs, the most remaining between Dallas, Denver, and Utah. They’re 17-12 on the road this season, so it wouldn’t be surprising to see them fall in the standings. They probably have the toughest remaining schedule.
Denver, meanwhile, has 13 of their final 20 games against teams with winning records. They’re also at home for 12 of those last 20 games. They do have three back-to-backs, though. The Nuggets are 17-10 at home, and are expecting Jamal Murray back any time now.
Dallas might have the easiest schedule remaining. 10 of their final 20 games are at home, and only 10 of those final 20 games are against teams with winning records. More importantly, the Mavericks only have one back-to-back left this season.
It wouldn’t be surprising for these three teams to move up and down among each other constantly over the next five weeks. The Mavericks probably have an idea of which they’d rather play, but there’s no great way to move into position to guarantee it. Dallas is probably more interested in winning as many games as possible rather than try to manipulate their way into a specific seed.
Moving up to the three seed is unlikely
The Mavericks are 5.5 games back of the Memphis Grizzlies, and 6 games back of the Golden State Warriors. In order for Dallas to catch either of these teams, they’d have to get scorching hot and have one of them simultaneously free fall down the stretch.
With the run Ja Morant is on, it’s probably not going to be the Grizzlies that stumble. The Warriors are struggling a bit without Draymond Green, but he’s expected back soon. It’s probably only a matter of time before Klay Thompson gets back into some semblance of his former self.
Dallas would have to finish 14-6 with the Warriors going 7-13 to overtake them in the standings. It’s certainly possible, but not likely.