While you were sleeping, the Dallas Mavericks officially succeeded in their lil' game of Avoid The Noid. Thanks to the Lakers' blowout of the Utah Jazz late last night, the Mavs won't open this weekend's NBA Playoffs as a no-way-in-hell-8th-seeded-underdog against Los Angeles.
Not exactly how I planned it, but the Mavericks did indeed pass the Jazz for the Western Conference's 7th seed. In fact, there is a scenario tonight in which Dallas could still become the 6th seed.
How's that you ask? ...
First off, the Mavs have plenty of motivation in tonight's finale against the Houston Rockets at American Airlines Center. Because ...
*If the Mavs win and the New Orleans Hornets lose at San Antonio, Dallas will wind up as the 6th seed and play No. 3.
*If the Mavs lose or the Hornets win, Dallas will be the 7th seed and play No. 2.
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In either case, their first-round opponent could be Denver, Houston or San Antonio. To make matters more confusing, along with Mavs-Rockets and Spurs-Hornets, Wednesday's final regular-season night includes Nuggets-Blazers. Only the Lakers (1) and Jazz (8) have been seeded.
I know this sounds crazy considering their championship savvy, but give me the Spurs. With Manu Ginobli out and Tim Duncan weary, San Antonio seems the most vulnerable of the three.
The worst matchup is the Nuggets, who in sweeping the season series proved to have too many shot-creating athletes for Dallas to handle defensively.