After a season when the Mavericks couldn’t win games when they really needed to, we’ll see how they do Sunday afternoon when losing one wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world.

The Mavericks go into the season-finale against San Antonio with a 38-43 record, 10th worst in the NBA.

A win Sunday would run the risk of drawing even with Chicago and/or Oklahoma City, both of whom go into the final day of the regular season with 39 wins. That could have an admittedly minimal impact on the chances of keeping the 10th overall (or better) draft pick when the lottery takes place May 16.

Why is that important? Because the Mavericks own their draft pick this season only if it is in the top-10.

If it is 11th or lower, it goes to the New York Knicks as the final bit of compensation for the Kristaps Porzingis trade.

That’s why the Mavericks will hold out a slew of players, including Kyrie Irving (right foot injury recovery) and Luka Dončić (left thigh injury recovery), on Sunday. Also out: Maxi Kleber (right hamstring injury recovery), Reggie Bullock (rest), Josh Green (rest) and Tim Hardaway Jr. (left ankle soreness).

But one thing is certain: whoever plays will be on the court playing to win.

That was clear against Chicago on Friday when seldom-used players like A.J. Lawson, McKinley Wright and Markieff Morris were three of five Mavericks off the bench who hit double figures in the 115-112 loss to the Bulls, which officially eliminated the Mavericks from postseason contention.

The Spurs lost to the Minnesota Timberwolves Saturday afternoon in San Antonio and are assured one of the bottom three records in the NBA. That will give them an equal shot with Detroit and Houston of getting the No. 1 overall pick, which will be France’s Victor Wembanyama, one of the most coveted draftees since Anthony Davis in 2012.

The Mavericks, by the way, would have about a 6 percent chance of getting the 7-3 Frenchman if they have their 10th pick.

But the Spurs also could be impacted somewhat because a win on their part could mean they would have a slim chance of slipping to sixth in the draft lottery in a worst-case scenario rather than fifth.

All of which is to say that neither team benefits from a win on Sunday, but one of them will end their year on a feel-good note, at least in terms of ending the season with a win.

Here’s some other tidbits to look for on Sunday:

  • The absence of so many core players means good opportunities for Mavericks who normally are at or near the end of the bench. On Friday, Wright came off the bench for a career-high 13 points to go with three assists.
  • J. Lawson went 5-of-9 from the field for a career-best 12 points to go with six rebounds, also a career-high.
  • Morris had 13 points against the Bulls, all of which came in the second quarter. It was his highest point total in a quarter since 2020 against Boston when he was with the Detroit Pistons.
  • Justin Holiday and Davis Bertans each had 11 points apiece off the bench against Chicago. Holiday also had six rebounds, three assists and two steals.
  • The Spurs have been playing well of late, winning two of three before losing to the Timberwolves on Saturday afternoon. In that game, they did not play leading scorer Keldon Johnson (22 points per game). Johnson did score 24 points in 32 minutes in a win over Portland on Thursday.
  • Against the Wolves, the Spurs were helpless defensively, getting blown out in three quarters as Minnesota’s Karl-Anthony Towns, Rudy Gobert and Anthony Edwards dominated.
  • The Mavericks have won seven in a row against the Spurs.
  • When: 2:30 p.m., Sunday.
  • Where: American Airlines Center, Dallas.
  • TV: Bally Sports Southwest.
  • Radio:1 FM, 99.1 FM Zona MX (Spanish).

Twitter: @ESefko


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