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News » Jazz-Mavericks Preview 2009-04-07

Jazz-Mavericks Preview 2009-04-07

Jazz-Mavericks Preview 2009-04-07
The playoff field in the Western Conference is all but figured out. The final seedings, however, are far from decided.

The Dallas Mavericks look to clinch the last available playoff spot in the West on Wednesday night when they host the Utah Jazz in a matchup of teams hoping to finish the regular season strong in an attempt to avoid the No. 8 seed.

After delivering an incredible offensive performance in a 140-116 rout of Phoenix on Sunday, Dallas (46-31) will clinch the conference's last remaining postseason berth with its next win or the Suns' next loss. Phoenix visits New Orleans on Wednesday night.

With their ninth straight playoff appearance nearly wrapped up, the Mavericks are focused now on moving up in the standings and avoiding a first-round matchup with the conference-best Los Angeles Lakers, who have clinched the top seed.

Dallas has a good chance of making a move in the standings with its next three games against Utah (47-30) and New Orleans - the two teams directly in front of it in the race. After hosting the Jazz, the Mavericks play a home-and-home series against the Hornets over the weekend.

"It should be a fun week," Mavericks forward Dirk Nowitzki said.

The Jazz clinched a playoff berth with a 108-94 road victory over the Hornets on Sunday night, but they're just as eager to avoid the eighth spot.

"We're happy to be in the playoffs, but we're not happy to be an eight seed," point guard Deron Williams said.

The Jazz didn't look like a No. 8 seed in the opener of a three-game road trip against West playoff teams. They shot 53.6 percent from the field, outscored New Orleans 41-19 in the first quarter and led by 30 at one point in the second.

"It's a great way to start this road trip, give us a lot of confidence and realize that if we play like that every night, we can beat anybody," said Williams, who had 21 points and 11 assists.

The Mavericks, though, put on an even more impressive offensive display Sunday. They recorded season highs in points, assists (34) and 3-pointers (15).

Jason Kidd set team records for first-half assists (16) and assists in a regulation game (20) while passing Magic Johnson for No. 3 on the career list. He did all that in just 30 minutes on the court - he sat out the fourth quarter because it wasn't a close game.

"Jason Kidd has an iron will," Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle said. "Some of the stuff that he was inventing out there offensively for us was just phenomenal. It kept giving our team more and more confidence and we rode the wave."

Nowitzki made 10 of 12 shots and scored 28 to crack 20 for the 20th straight game, and Josh Howard added 24 points after missing Dallas' previous contest with a flare-up of his pesky ankle problem.

The two-day layoff between that game and this meeting should help Howard stay in the lineup Wednesday.

"The lift he gives us just by being on the court, it's hard to quantify," Carlisle said. "It brings a bounce to our team and it juices up our fans."

The Mavericks won their first home game against the Jazz 115-108 on Jan. 17 behind 39 points and 16-for-20 shooting from Nowitzki. It was Utah's 10th loss in its last 11 games in Dallas.

The Jazz have beaten the Mavericks twice in Salt Lake City, including a 115-87 rout in the teams' last meeting Feb. 5.

Williams, who played high school basketball in a Dallas suburb, had 34 points and 12 assists in that game. He's averaging 24.4 points and 9.2 assists while shooting 53.2 percent in five career starts in Dallas, but Utah's 1-4 in those games.

Author: Fox Sports
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Added: April 7, 2009


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