Any thoughts of the Mavs resting their regulars in the regular-season finale went out the window with wins Tuesday night by Utah and Phoenix. The No. 2 seed remains in play for a possible Jazz takeover on the final night of the season.
Spurs-Mavs tip off at 7 p.m., more than two hours before the Suns-Jazz get going, so Dallas has to play it full tilt, assuming the Jazz will win on their home court. If the Mavs (54-27) win, whatever the Jazz (53-28) does later in the night is moot, Dallas will clinch the No. 2 seed. However, a Mavs loss and a Utah win awards the Jazz -- who holds the tiebreak over the Mavs -- the No. 2 seed and Dallas settles for the No. 3 seed.
Rest assured, the Mavs have no interest in sliding behind the Jazz and setting up a second-round scenario with four games slated in hostile Salt Lake City. Also be certain that the Jazz want that 2-seed. Otherwise, they tumble to fifth, start the first round on the road at Denver (1-3 vs. Nuggets this season) and would have to go through the Lakers in the second round.
San Antonio has an interesting situation in front of it. Would the Spurs rather open the playoffs against their in-state rival or against a Jazz team that snookered them, 4-0 (although their last meeting was back on Jan. 20 before the Spurs got hot, and Jazz forward Carlos Boozer left Tuesday's game with a rib injury)?
The Spurs (50-31), currently No. 7, have to assume that Portland (50-31), currently No. 6, will win its late game at home against Golden State. Portland owns the head-to-head tiebreak against the Spurs.
So, if San Antonio and Portland both win (and assuming the Jazz win to take the No. 2 seed), then the Blazers take the No. 6 seed and a first-round matchup against No. 3 Dallas, while the No. 7 Spurs would face the No. 2 Jazz.
If Phoenix beats Utah, the Suns would move up to No. 3, Denver would finish at No. 4 and Utah would slide to No. 5. In that case, even a Spurs win over the Mavs would pit the two rivals in a first-round showdown (assuming, of course, Portland wins its game).
Does your head hurt, yet?
Here's tonight's final games for seeds 2-7:
2 Dallas (54-27): vs. San Antonio
3 Utah: (53-28) vs. Phoenix
4 Phoenix (53-28): @Utah
5 Denver (53-29): End of season
6 Portland (50-31): vs. Golden State
7 San Antonio (50-31): @Dallas