MEMPHIS – Before the Dallas Mavericks played the Nuggets in Demver on Mar. 5, coach Rick Carlisle empathetically talked about how his team had “21 Super Bowls’’ left to play in the regular season.
Now, the Mavs are only down to one “Super Bowl’’ -– tonight’s 7 o’clock game at the FedEx Forum against the Memphis Grizzlies.
But since that bold comment by Carlisle, the Mavs have manufactured a 13-7 record and have clinched a playoff berth for the first time since 2012. The record includes three overtime losses during the Mavs' franchise record eight-game home stand.
However, this 20-stretch of games, by in large, have tested the Mavs' mettle during a critical stage of the season.
“We’ve gotten into the playoffs, so it’s positive,’’ Carlisle said after Wednesday morning’s shootaround. “Now we’ve got an opportunity to take it a step farther.
“If we get a higher seed and get 50 wins, it's a big deal. That’s what we want to do.’’
If the Mavs (49-32) defeat the Grizzlies (49-32) tonight, Dallas will open the playoffs on the road this weekend against Oklahoma City or the Los Angeles Clippers. But if they lose tonight, they’ll open the playoffs on the road against the San Antonio Spurs.
That’s the pressure-cooker that lies ahead for the Mavs tonight.
“I openly talk about pressure and the importance of having pressure in our business and the opportunity that you have when the pressure is on to live up to it, to live up to the moment,’’ Carlisle said. “That’s why we talk about process so much.
“This game (tonight) is a great primer for what’s coming this weekend -- regardless of who we play.’’
-- Dwain Price
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