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Mavs downplay underdog role entering series with Spurs

Although they can’t ignore their recent history against the San Antonio Spurs, the Dallas Mavericks are by no means writing themselves off as many so-called experts seem to be heading into the two teams’ Western Conference first-round playoff series.

Playing the role of the underdog, the Mavericks (49-33) will undoubtedly have to play their best basketball of the season in order to take down the top-seeded Spurs (62-20) in the best-of-seven series. Still, even despite a nine-game losing streak against San Antonio and four-game season series sweep at the hands of the Spurs, the Mavs are confident going into Sunday’s Game 1 that they have a chance to do what naysayers are classifying as impossible.

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Mavs head into first-round series against rival Spurs with clean slate

“The standings are 0-0.”

Although he is new to the Dallas Mavericks-San Antonio Spurs rivalry, Monta Ellis is well aware that you can throw the regular-season series between the two squads out the window when they meet again in the playoffs.

With those words, Ellis disregarded the Mavericks’ 0-4 season series sweep at the hands of the top-seeded Spurs (62-20) following Dallas’ 106-105 overtime loss in Memphis on Wednesday to set up the first-round playoff series. And despite their nine straight losses to the Spurs, the Mavericks (49-33) are not by any stretch of the imagination conceding the series to their neighbors down south on Interstate 35.

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Game 82: Mavs at Grizzlies

With 81 games now in the books and a playoff berth already captured, the Dallas Mavericks will still have plenty on the line as they complete the regular season Wednesday night in Memphis.

With both the Mavericks and Memphis Grizzlies entering Wednesday’s regular-season finale with identical 49-32 records, the battle for the seventh seed in the Western Conference playoff picture will be decided. Meanwhile, the Mavericks will try to sweep the Southwest Division season series with the Grizzlies for the first time in six years, looking to secure an NBA-best seventh straight road win for the first time since winning eight in a row away from home from Nov. 20 to Dec. 27, 2010.

Both teams will also try to avoid slipping to eighth in the standings to set up a first-round matchup against the league-best San Antonio Spurs, which the Mavs and Grizzlies are a combined 0-8 against this season. However, with the Grizzlies on a four-game winning streak and looking to set a single-season record by claiming a 14th straight victory at home, the Mavericks will face a great challenge.

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Despite playoff berth, Mavs remain focused on possible 50-win season

Despite clinching a playoff berth with one game left on the schedule, the Dallas Mavericks are anything but content as they try to return the franchise back to the top tier of the NBA.

Standing just one victory shy of their first 50-win season since capturing 57 during the 2010-11 campaign en route to the first title in franchise history, the Mavericks (49-32) will bring the schedule to a close when they take the court Wednesday night in Memphis. And with their playoff seed and first-round matchup still not determined after claiming a postseason berth Saturday with a 101-98 home win over Phoenix, the Mavs admit that plenty will be on the line when they face the Grizzlies (48-32) for the fourth time this season — the previous three all Dallas wins — with a chance to grab win No. 50.

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Game 81: Mavs vs. Suns

It was an opportunity the Dallas Mavericks had waited for all season long.

Taking the American Airlines Center floor Saturday night for their regular-season home finale, the Mavericks stood one win away from earning a playoff berth. However, in their way stood the Phoenix Suns, who along with Memphis entered the night one-half game back of the Mavericks in the three-team race for the final two playoff spots in the Western Conference standings.

Still, even after falling down by double-digits, the Mavs wouldn’t be denied a chance to return to the playoffs for a 13th time in the last 14 years. And after rallying from a 13-point deficit to capture a 101-98 win, the Mavericks (49-32) redeemed themselves for missing out on the playoffs last season by securing a guaranteed postseason spot.

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Game 80: Mavs vs. Spurs

Taking his spot amongst the greatest scorers of all time, 12-time All-Star power forward Dirk Nowitzki further cemented his place in NBA lore Tuesday night while helping the Dallas Mavericks move closer to clinching a playoff spot.

Led by Nowitzki’s 21 points on 9-of-11 shooting, the Mavericks (48-31) finished off an unbeaten four-game road trip with a 95-83 victory over the Utah Jazz. In the process, Nowitzki met yet another career milestone, passing Oscar Robertson (26,710) for 10th on the league’s all-time scoring list. Now, after being named Western Conference Player of the Week for averaging 25.3 points and 8.0 rebounds while shooting 55.7 percent from the field and 56.5 percent from three-point range for games played March 31 through April 6, the 7-footer will look to move the Mavericks closer to returning to the postseason.

However, while meeting the Southwest Division champion San Antonio Spurs on Thursday, Nowitzki and the Mavs figure to face a daunting task. And with Nowitzki averaging just 15.4 points on 40.2 percent shooting during Dallas’ eight-game losing streak to the Spurs (60-18), the Mavs will undoubtedly have a challenge on their hands in front of a nationally-televised audience.

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Game 79: Mavs at Jazz

After sprinting through the first three outings of their four-game road trip unscathed, the Dallas Mavericks found themselves in the perfect position entering Tuesday’s matchup against the Utah Jazz.

Sitting in the seventh spot of the Western Conference standings entering the night, the Mavericks tried to widen their one-half game edge over Phoenix and 1 1/2-game lead over Memphis in the three-team race for the final two playoffs spots. Meanwhile, the Mavs looked to bring their road trip to a victorious close, attempting to sweep the season series over the Jazz in the process.

And with 12-time All-Star Dirk Nowitzki further cementing his place in NBA lore by moving into 10th place on the all-time scoring list, the Mavericks (48-31) capped off their unbeaten road trip with a 95-83 victory.

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Dirk Nowitzki praises team’s play while garnering Player of Week honors

Although 12-time All-Star Dirk Nowitzki admits that it felt like a lifetime to once again be named Western Conference Player of the Week, his 17th career time to receive the honor came at just the right moment for the Dallas Mavericks.
Monday, the NBA announced that Nowitzki garnered the honor for games played from March 31 through April 6. During that span Nowitzki led the Mavs to a 3-1 record highlighted by road wins over the Los Angeles Clippers, the L.A. Lakers and Sacramento Kings, averaging 25.3 points, 8.0 rebounds, 3.0 assists, 1.0 steal and 35.5 minutes during that stretch while shooting 55.7 percent from the field and 56.5 percent from three-point range.

Still, with one more game left against the Utah Jazz on Tuesday to conclude a four-game road trip, Nowitzki was less concerned with his own accolade and more so focused on getting the Mavericks (47-31) back to the postseason.

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Game 78: Mavs at Kings

Despite limping to a 4-4 mark during a franchise-record eight-game homestand, the Dallas Mavericks once again looked like a confident team following back-to-back wins in Los Angeles to begin their four-game road trip.

Looking to continue their recent dominance away from home, the Mavericks went in search of a fifth straight road win Sunday against the Sacramento Kings. Meanwhile, the Mavs tried to remain unbeaten on their current trip, looking to further separate themselves from Memphis and Phoenix in the three-team race for the final two playoff spots in the Western Conference.

But, after two previous narrow wins over the Kings, the Mavs would again find themselves in a dogfight. Still, after surviving with a 93-91 win, the Mavericks (47-31) surged to 3-0 on their pivotal road trip.

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