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The Mavericks path to their playoff spot

The final sprint of the season, and a chance for the Mavericks to steal third place is just ahead of them.

NBA: Dallas Mavericks at Cleveland Cavaliers David Richard-USA TODAY Sports

The Dallas Mavericks are currently in fourth place in the Western Conference playoff standings, two games ahead of the Denver Nuggets and 2.5 ahead of the Utah Jazz. But this week isn’t just about holding on to homecourt in the first round. The Mavericks, a game back of the Golden State Warriors, have a chance to sneak into the third spot in the west.

We’ve been saying we’re in the homestretch for a while, but now it’s real. Now we are in the final sprint — all hands on deck and all elbows sharpened as the team jockeys for final position. Here are the schedules for all teams involved:

Golden State Warriors (currently third)

4/7 vs LAL — 4/9 @ SAS — 4/10 @ NOP

The Warriors have been ailing of late, going 3-7 in their last ten games as they tread water without Steph Curry. But they also have the fortune of playing three teams low in the standings. Now, it’s worth noting that all three of those teams are technically fighting for play-in spots and therefore should have plenty of motivation. Add in the element of a road back-to-back to finish the season, these games will be interesting to monitor and vital to the Mavericks’ seeding.

Dallas Mavericks (1 game back of GSW)

4/6 @ DET — 4/8 vs POR — 4/10 vs SAS

One common opponent with the Warriors, the Mavericks do have three winnable games. Call me paranoid, but the final road game against the Detroit Pistons has me a little nervous. While the Mavs don’t have full control of their destiny here it feels like third is still very much in play, while homecourt as four-seed feels nearly a lock. The difference between three and four could be vital, as they could avoid the Phoenix Suns in the second round if they moved up.

Denver Nuggets (2 games back of DAL)

4/5 vs SAS — 4/7 vs MEM — 4/10 vs LAL

The Denver Nuggets, who have gone 6-4 in their last ten games thanks to the heroics of reigning-MVP Nikola Jokic, have a tough schedule. They’ll face a San Antonio Spurs team trying to eliminate the Los Angeles Lakers, while also facing the Memphis Grizzlies who though they have locked up second in the standings are still beating everyone they play (without Ja Morant). The Nuggets do have the benefit of playing at home the final week.

Utah Jazz (.5 game back of DEN)

4/5 vs MEM — 4/6 vs OKC — 4/8 vs PHO — 4/10 @ POR

The Jazz are the only team of this group with four games still remaining. They play a back-to-back and also face the top two teams in the West. Will they catch a break with either the Grizzlies or Suns resting players in preparation for the playoffs? At this point unclear, though both teams haven’t seemed to let up yet. It’s well documented that the Jazz have recently been in freefall, going 4-6 in their last ten games and losing six straight against teams that will be in the playoffs or fighting for a play-in spot. Can they stabilize in the final week?