Monday night began to clear up the Western Conference playoff picture.
We know this: The Dallas Mavericks will open the playoffs at home against their old foe, the San Antonio Spurs, if the Mavs defeat the Spurs in the regular-season finale Wednesday night at the American Airlines Center.
The Utah Jazz is the only team capable of knocking the Mavs into the No. 3 seed. Currently fourth, Utah must win its final two games tonight and Wednesday, and have Dallas lose to the Spurs to claim the No. 2 seed. However, if the Denver Nuggets win tonight at the Phoenix Suns or if Utah falls tonight at Golden State, the Mavs will lock up the No. 2 seed and then Wednesday's results will determine playoff pairings.
Portland, which finishes the season Wednesday at home against Golden State, holds the head-to-head tiebreak over the Spurs.
One playoff series is set. Kevin Durant and the young Oklahoma City Thunder showed their age with a disastrous final road trip. Consecutive losses at Golden State and Portland doomed OKC to the No. 8 seed and a glitzy first-round matchup against Kobe Bryant and the top-seeded Los Angeles Lakers.
Here's the remaining schedules for seeds 2-7:
2 Dallas (54-27): vs. San Antonio (Wed)
3 Denver (53-28): @Phoenix (tonight)
4 Utah: (52-28) @Golden State (tonight); vs. Phoenix (Wed)
5 Phoenix (52-28): vs. Denver (tonight); @Utah (Wed)
6 Portland (50-31): vs. Golden State (Wed)
7 San Antonio (50-31): @Dallas (Wed)