TORONTO RAPTORS (27-43) AT MAVERICKS (41-29)
Time: 8 p.m.
Place: American Airlines Center, Dallas
TV: Bally Sports Southwest
Radio: ESPN 103.3 FM; Univision 1270 AM (Spanish)
About the Mavericks: With a win tonight, the Mavs will clinch a playoff spot – aka one of the top six seeds in the Western Conference. There are other scenarios that also will earn the Mavs a playoff berth. But they would rather punch their playoff ticket on their own merits with a victory over the Raptors. . .Thanks to a thrilling 118-117 victory by the Phoenix Suns over the Portland Trail Blazers on Thursday, the Mavs have moved back into the No. 5 seed out West. That means the Mavs once again control their own destiny and can hold onto the fifth seed if they beat the Raptors and emerge victorious in Sunday’s regular season finale at Minnesota. . .After missing seven straight games with right knee soreness, Kristaps Porzingis returned Wednesday and collected 19 points and five rebounds in only 22 minutes during the 125-107 win over the New Orleans Pelicans. Also against the Pelicans, Luka Doncic collected 33 points, eight rebounds and eight assists, and Tim Hardaway Jr. tallied 27 points on 10-of-18 shots. . .The Raptors defeated the Mavs, 116-93, back on Jan. 18, despite 23 points, nine rebounds and two blocks from Porzingis. . .The Mavs have won 11 of their last 14 games. . .The Mavs are 20-15 at home.
About the Raptors: Less than two years ago, the Raptors were celebrating after winning the franchise’s first NBA title and the only NBA championship won by a franchise who doesn’t call the United States its home. But a lot has changed since then, and the Raptors have gotten so bad that they’ve already been eliminated from being a candidate for the Eastern Conference play-in tournament. . .This is the Raptors’ next-to-last game before they end their season Sunday against the Indiana Pacers. . .The Raptors come into tonight’s game tied with the Orlando Magic for the longest losing streak in the East at five losses in a row. . .Despite a career-high 35 points, 10 rebounds, five assists and three steals from Stanley Johnson, the Raptors lost to the Chicago Bulls, 114-102, this past Thursday. Rookie Jalen Harris also scored a career-high 17 points in that game. . .Four of the Raptors’ best players – Kyle Lowry, Pascal Siakam, OG Anunoby and Fred VanVleet – did not play in the game against the Bulls. Also, none of those players played in this past Tuesday’s 115-96 loss to the Los Angeles Clippers. Coach Nick Nurse told reporters it “remains to be seen” if that quartet will play any more this season.