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DALLAS — 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.
“Well, it’s a milestone number. I think everybody can admit that,” Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle said in regard to the possibility of claiming a 50th win. “And you know, one of our goals is to get back to being a 50-win team. We’ve got an opportunity to do that, and we’re working hard to get ready.”
In their 33-year franchise history, the Mavericks have compiled 13 seasons with at least 50 wins, including a stretch of 11 consecutive years of reaching that magical number before the streak ended alongside their title reign. Now, one game after securing a playoff spot for the 13th time in the last 14 years, the Mavericks will set their eyes on another 50-win season.
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“Yeah, 50 wins is a great accomplishment in this league,” 12-time All-Star Dirk Nowitzki said. “I mean, it’s tough to win and it’s tough to win on the road consistently, and I think we took 50 wins for granted a couple times when we just did it in a row a few times and won 67 one year. You just think 50 wins is easy to get, but it’s really not. There’s a lot of really good teams in this league that make you work, and that means that you do a good job of closing out games, especially on the road, and finding ways to stick around and win at the end. That’s what this league is all about, so the playoffs I think were our first goal. We’ve reached that and we’ll go from there.”
Meanwhile, with their ticket to the postseason already punched, the Mavs will patiently wait with watchful eyes as teams jockey for positions in the standings.
Entering Monday, the Mavs find themselves one-half game behind Golden State for the sixth spot in the Western Conference standings and needing the Warriors to lose their final two games — Monday against Minnesota and Wednesday at Denver — in order to move up. The Mavs will also try to avoid falling back to eighth as Memphis and Phoenix square off Monday in a pivotal matchup before the Grizzlies then welcome the Dallas team to town. And with Wednesday’s Southwest Division showdown likely to determine the final playoff picture, the Mavericks hope to use their extra practice time to their benefit before ramping up for their first-round series.
“You know, we’re preparing for Wednesday at this point and time as a game we need to win,” Carlisle matter-of-factly said. “Right now, that’s where we’re at. … The games tonight are going to be of great interest to everybody, but we’re working at getting better for Wednesday’s game and for the playoffs in these two days. And that’s what we need to do, because we’ve got a lot of things to work on.”
Note: The Mavericks will conclude the regular season on the road, traveling to take on the Memphis Grizzlies on Wednesday night. Dallas leads the season series 3-0. The game will air locally on TXA 21 at 7 p.m. CT.
Single-game tickets for the first two Mavs home games of the first round of the 2014 NBA Playoffs are on sale now. Tickets are available at the American Airlines Center box office, online at mavs.com or by calling (214) 747-MAVS. There is an eight ticket limit per game. Dates and times for the first two games have not been announced but will be posted on mavs.com by April 17.
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