Practice Report: Jose CalderonMavs PG Jose Calderon reflects on Wednesday's win over the Grizzlies, how well the team is coming together, Dirk's impressive hot streak and more.
DALLAS — Why settle?
Despite their 110-96 victory Wednesday in Memphis, the Dallas Mavericks returned home still unsatisfied, even after seizing the season series with the Grizzlies and widening their lead for the Western Conference’s eighth and final playoff position to 2 1/2 games. That’s because after claiming their third straight win overall the Mavericks (29-21) now sit just one-half game back of the sixth spot, trailing both Golden State and Phoenix by the slimmest of margins.
And with a goal of moving up in the standings, Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle preached to his players not to just be satisfied with simply securing the eighth seed.
“I just think at this point, with a game like last night, we’re at a point here where we’ve just got to keep pushing forward, keep working to get better and see where we can go with this,” Carlisle said following Thursday’s team practice. “I think it’s important to look up and not look down, keep gunning for people ahead of us and have that mindset, instead of looking the other way and trying to hold on. I mean, that’s not the way to go.”
Looking to replicate a 103-93 home victory back on Nov. 22 and facing a Utah team with the West’s worst record Friday night, the Mavericks will undoubtedly have an opportunity to continue to surge ahead in the standings. With that said, the Mavs will also have an uphill climb in order to catch the teams ahead of them, looking to run their winning streak to four while sending the Jazz (16-32) to a fourth straight loss.
Meanwhile, the Mavs will try not to get caught watching the standings too closely, playing their final outing at home before the start of a three-game road trip leading into the All-Star break.
“I think that’s the beauty of the Western Conference. Everything is still so tight,” 12-time All-star Dirk Nowitzki said. “The last couple of weeks we dropped some games. We dropped some home games we didn’t want to drop, but other teams are losing, too. The West is pretty tight, and with a couple of games you can get out of the playoffs or a couple wins and you can be seventh, eighth or sixth. I mean, it’s going to be tight all the way to the end of the season. It’s been that way for the last couple of years. The seeding comes all the way down to the last couple weeks of the season, so you’ve got to stay the course. You’ve got to play hard every night and give yourself a chance to win as many games as possible. I mean, it sounds pretty simple and stupid, but you’ve got to take it one game at a time and win your home games when you can. That’s very important to protect your home court and go out on the road and steal some once in a while.
“Anytime you can move up, you want to move up, if you’re in a position to do it. We talked a week ago or 10 days ago about wanting to finish before we hit the All-Star break and how we wanted to get some momentum with some wins, and that was definitely a great win last night. Hopefully there’s no letdown tomorrow against a hard-playing Utah team, and then we’re going to hit the road for a couple. Hopefully we can carry this momentum right through the break.”
Note: The Mavs will now return to American Airlines Center on Friday against the Utah Jazz. Dallas leads the season series 1-0 after a 103-93 home victory back on Nov. 22. The game will air locally on Fox Sports Southwest at 7:30 p.m. CT. Tickets are still available and can be purchased by calling (214) 747-MAVS (6287) or by visiting Mavs.com.
Practice Report: Rick CarlisleMavs head coach Rick Carlisle emphasizes his comments about trying to move up in the standings instead of hanging on, looks ahead to Friday night's game against the Jazz, talks about the balance betwe