MEMPHIS – Dallas Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle doesn’t want anyone to misconstrue the facts.
Despite having a playoff spot already locked up, Carlisle plans to play his regular rotation in tonight’s regular season finale against the Memphis Grizzlies because he sees an opportunity to move up in the playogg seedings and to reach the coverted 50-win plateau. As many others have suggested, Carlisle is not looking at tonight’s game as a grand opportunity to avoid playing the San Antonio Spurs in the first round of the playoffs.
“I’m not even thinking about that kind of stuff,’’ Carlisle said after Wednesday morning’s shootaround at the FedEx Forum. “If you can get a higher seed, if you can get 50 wins, you do it.
“Beyond that, I just stay away from other negative forms of thinking.’’
The Mavs (49-32) and Grizzlies (49-32) tipoff tonight at 7 in a game which will be televised nationally on ESPN. The winner will receive the seventh seed and play either Oklahoma City or the Los Angeles Clippers in the first round of the playoffs, while the loser will open postseason play against the Spurs.
But the Mavs insist there’s no grandiose plan in play to attempt to avoid the Spurs, who are 4-0 against Dallas this season and have won nine straight games against the Mavs.
“It’s more than just avoiding San Antonio,’’ center Samuel Dalembert said. “It’s more like we have pride and we have goals, and we’re trying to reach that 50-mark.
“To us it’s huge for us to be able to do something like that.’’
With no disrespect to anyone, forward Jae Crowder said the Mavs aren't trying to run and hide from any of the other teams in the playoffs. And that include the Spurs.
“We want to win tonight to get to 50 wins, point blank,’’ Crowder said. “That’s one of our goals we set at the beginning of the year.
“It’s not to avoid anybody. We feel like we can beat anybody in the league.’’
The Spurs are the only team in the NBA to win at least 60 games this season, while Oklahoma City, the Clippers, Houston, Portland, Indiana, Miami and Golden State are the only ones with at least 50 wins. The Mavs, who won 50-plus games from 2001-’11, just want to be in that number – again.
“It’s a good sounding number and it’s a number associated with being an elite team,’’ Carlisle said. “It’s important to go for it if you get in that position.''
-- Dwain Price
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