We’re finally here. After over five months of basketball that saw its share of ups and downs, the Dallas Mavericks are playing game No. 82 of the regular season. Sunday is the grand finale.
Naturally, the Mavericks would be playing in-state rival the San Antonio Spurs. Both teams are in the postseason in their own respects. Dallas locked in home court advantage in the playoffs, and San Antonio is guaranteed a spot in the play-in tournament. Even though each team is moving on there’s still a lot to play for Sunday night.
Luka will play
The Mavericks won’t be without their star player afterall. Saturday afternoon, the NBA announced that it rescinded the sixteenth technical foul that crew chief Tony Brothers assessed to him Friday night. Tough break for bad officiating. Good call by the league.
If you weren’t watching, here’s the breakdown:
Luka Doncic picked up his sixteenth technical foul of the season Friday night against the Portland Trail Blazers. It came after the end of the first quarter. Doncic drew contact on a last-second heave and the referees swallowed their whistles. Doncic complained and crew chief Tony Brothers hit him with a tech.
Players who hit 16 technical fouls during the regular season are automatically suspended for a game. Teams and players can appeal the calls–Doncic and the Mavs likely will–but the appeals process can take some time. Even then, the likelihood that the league overturns the call is unlikely.
Dallas now has its star player available to muck around and do his thing Sunday night. That’s great considering that there’s a little bit to play for in terms of seeding.
What’s at stake
By virtue of their win over the Spurs, the Golden State Warriors hold a one game lead over the Mavericks for the No. 3 seed. If the Warriors lose Sunday and the Mavericks win, Dallas shoots into the three slot thanks to owning a 3-1 regular season record over Golden State. Regardless, Dallas will play either the Utah Jazz or Denver Nuggets.
The Spurs are dead in the water. They needed to win their final two games and hope that the New Orleans Pelicans lose both of theirs. In San Antonio’s favor, New Orleans fell to the Memphis Grizzlies Saturday night. However, the Spurs were unable to overcome the Warriors. That kills their chances of moving into the nine-seed and securing home court during the play-in.
How seriously will the Mavs take the game
Tim Hardaway Jr. is out. Maxi Kleber is out. Marquese Chriss and Frank Ntilikina are questionable. Even though Doncic is available, it will be interesting to see whether the Mavericks actually care about this game.
The Spurs may want to play spoiler, but they can’t improve their odds. Dallas can. It all depends on what Jason Kidd thinks is more important: winning or resting.
How to watch
The game tips at 8:30 p.m. on Bally Sports Southwest and NBA League Pass.