Before Wednesday’s stunning buzzer-beating 114-113 victory over the Memphis Grizzlies at FedEx Forum, Rick Carlisle weighed in on the NBA’s play-in tournament debate. But the Dallas Mavericks coach would rather just keep the focus on the task at hand.
“For me, I do have opinions on it,” Carlisle said. “But really my focus has got to be on what’s going on right now. It’s a reality.”
Earlier this week, guard Luka Doncic said: “I don’t understand the idea of the play-in. You play 72 games to get into the playoffs, then maybe you lose two in a row and you’re out of the playoffs. So I don’t see the point of that.”
Owner Mark Cuban also said the play-in tournament is “an enormous mistake.”
In the play-in tournament, whoever finishes the regular season seeded seventh and eighth in each conference will play each other, and that winner will advance to the playoffs as the No. 7 seed. And the winner of the play-in game between the ninth and 10th seeds will play the loser of the game between the seventh and eighth seeds with that winner qualifying for the playoffs as the No. 8 seed.
“The play-in tournament is happening,” Carlisle said. “If we end up in the play-in we’ll embrace that challenge and that will be a great experience. In the meantime, there’s a lot to play for.
“But I think Luka and Mark have made strong statements about it. I don’t see the need for a third, really, and I don’t want anything to distract us from what’s important right now. We’ve got to keep our eye on the ball.”
The Mavs (30-24) would rather finish in one of the coveted top six spots out West. After Wednesday’s come-from-behind win over the Grizzlies, the Mavs are just one game behind the Portland Trail Blazers (31-23) for the No. 6 seed out West.
If the Mavs can bag one of the Western Conference’s top six seeds, they’ll be able to avoid participation in the play-in tournament.
Meanwhile, last summer in the bubble the Grizzlies earned a spot in the play-in tournament. But that was under a different set of rules and appeared to have been more palatable by everyone involved.
This year, “It’s a great opportunity,” Grizzlies coach Taylor Jenkins said. “Obviously more teams this year. We as the Grizzlies organization just focus on the competition, and the opportunity is there.
“Last year was a tremendous opportunity for our guys. They earned that opportunity last year even after the stoppage (of the 2019-’20 season due to the coronavirus).
The Mavs are currently seventh in the Western Conference and the Grizzlies are eighth. If the season ended today, the two clubs would be playing each other for the rights to claim the No. 7th playoff seed.
“Going into this season that wasn’t really in our forecast,” Taylor said of participating in the play-in tournament. “We were just focusing on one day at a time and getting better. Now you’ve put yourself in a position to be in that conversation.”
Taylor is a fan of the play-in tournament, which starts on May 18.
“For us it’s awesome,” he said. “I think for the league it creates a lot of excitement and competition.
“I know they’re studying that and then they’ll figure out how that makes sense moving forward. But hopefully we’ll give ourselves a great chance over the last 20 games to keep getting better and make a push for the playoffs.”
Doncic GMA Play Of The Day: That ridiculously wild and unimaginable shot that guard Luka Doncic made from way behind the left side of the basket before Monday’s game against the Philadelphia 76ers turned out to be The Play Of The Day on Wednesday morning on ABC’s Good Morning America.
GMA piped in the song, How You Like Me Now, by The Heavy while Doncic was doing his thing. The cameras captured Doncic bouncing the ball off his feet a couple of times, then off his shoulders before turning and launching a high-arching shot that swished right through the nets.
Michael Strahan, one of the GMA co-hosts, said: “Dallas Mavericks star Luka Doncic taking pregame warmups to another level. Juggling the ball between his feet before casually sinking that shot like it was no big deal.
“Steph Curry, who’s always got the great warmup, that may even out-do Steph.”