NBA Standings: Dallas Movs chase the Utah Jazz. Denver Nuggets beat Minnesota Wolves –
As we inch closer to the NBA postseason, the Dallas Mavericks have a lot of things going well for them. The team has won six of its last seven games heading into their matchup with the fourth-place Utah Jazz.
The Mavs, who are currently fifth in the Western Conference standings, trail the Jazz by just 1.5 games with two more head-to-heads coming after Friday’s matchup. Luka Doncic has been on an MVP-line tear lately, and if he keeps it up, the Mavs have a real chance at securing homecourt advantage in the playoffs for the first time in 11 years.
“The first game after the break is always super-important,” said Mavs big man Dwight Powell. “We’ve got to try to continue doing the things we’ve been doing good and improve on the things we’ve been trying to improve on since before the break.”
Although catching Utah in standings is the Mavs’ main focus right now, they still have some work to do to make sure they don’t slip a few spots.
With the Denver Nuggets’ win over the Sacramento Kings on Thursday night, they’re now just 1.5 games behind Dallas in the standings — although that might as well be an even two games given that the Mavs own the tiebreaker over the Nuggets by winning the season series 2-1.
The surprising up-and-coming Minnesota Timberwolves are just 3.5 games back of the Mavs with just over 20 games to go in the season. The Mavs and Wolves are currently tied 1-1 on the season series with two head-to-heads remaining. Perhaps the Wolves’ inexperience will keep them from truly being a threat down the stretch.
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All things considered, the Mavs are in a favorable position being that they essentially control their own destiny for homecourt advantage. However, with a tough upcoming three-game road-trip against Utah, the Golden State Warriors and the Los Angeles Lakers, the standings could get even tighter in the coming days if Dallas can’t take care of business.
Given the difference in remaining strength of schedules, it’s probably more likely that Denver could potentially pass up Dallas rather than Minnesota, but anything can happen in the NBA. Utah has a handful of tough games down the stretch as well.
Third in the West might be a little ambitious for Dallas considering that Memphis currently holds a five-game lead, but fourth is still reasonably attainable. The Mavs could realistically finish anywhere between fourth and seventh depending on how the final stretch of the season goes.
Will Dallas finally breakthrough and realize one of their biggest season goals of securing homecourt? Can Luka Doncic, who now has the highest usage percentage in the NBA since the Kristaps Porzingis trade, keep up his stellar play and lead the Mavs to new hights? Tune into tonight’s game as we start getting some answers to those questions one piece at time.
“We’re going up against a great team (Utah) with a lot of weapons and a lot of defensive capabilities,” said Powell. “So I think it’s a good way to come off the bat and have that challenge.”
The author of 5 books, 3 of which are New York Times bestsellers. I’ve been published in more than 100 newspapers and magazines and am a frequent commentator on NPR.