HOUSTON -– Whether or not the Dallas Mavericks advance to the playoffs for the 13th consecutive season may be determined over the next two games.
And those two games are against the same opponent.
The Mavs (26-32) will face the Houston Rockets (32-28) at 6 tonight in a spirited matchup at the Toyota Center. Then, after tonight’s contest, the two clubs will pack their bags, hop on their luxury
charter and battle it out again, this time on Wednesday night in Dallas at the American Airlines Center.
If the Mavs win those two games, they would be just two games behind the Rockets in the loss column with 22 games remaining until the postseason. That’s more than enough time for the Mavs to overtake the Rockets, considering Dallas made up four games over Houston in one week earlier this season.
However, if the Rockets sweep the two-game set, that would make it extremely difficult for the Mavs to make up the necessary ground to secure a playoff spot.
“It’s big, man,’’ guard OJ Mayo said of the two games against the Rockets. “It’s a team ahead of us and gives us an opportunity to gain ground and make them backtrack a little bit.’’
The Mavs have other issues other than chasing the Rockets. The Los Angeles Lakers (29-30) and Portland Trail Blazers (27-31) are also ahead of the Mavs in the Western Conference standings, and they're not going to fade away easily.
In other words, leapfrogging over three teams to earn a playoff spot is a difficult task for any team.
“Houston is in the spot that we’re trying to get to, and we know that we’re not that far from them,’’ guard Mike James said. “So if we win these games and they lose these games, that just brings us closer to what we’re trying to do -- knowing that Portland is looming and also LA is looming.
“But our focus is not on other teams, but taking care of our own destiny. We can’t control what the other teams do. All we can do is control what we do, and our focus is trying to get the next win.’’
-- Dwain Price
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