Answering a few questions about the chase for the final Western Conference playoff spot. The Golden State Warriors beat the Juan Jose Barea-led (!) Dallas Mavericks, 111-82, while Los Angles Clippers threw everything at the Phoenix Suns to stay alive, 103-99 . . .
Warriors hold inside track
What's your take on Mavericks coach Avery Johnson resting several key players?
I don't think there's any question it's a smart move. With both Josh Howard and Dirk Nowitzki tweaking their ankles recently, and Jerry Stackhouse not as young as he once was, a good move. No one on the Mavs benefits by risking themselves -- you see what happened with Morris Peterson, who was injured in a meaningless game for Toronto. You just don't want to take a chance with something like that.
Perhaps it could turn into an even shrewder move by Avery, if his team wanted to avoid the Warriors, whom they were swept by this season. Now Golden State just might leapfrog the Lakers to the No. 7 spot now.
I don't put a lot of weight in that. In that same season the Warriors last made the playoffs (1993-94), I was with a Knicks team that won 57 but had lost 3 of 4 against the Nets. Then we beat them 3-1 in the first round.
During the regular season you don't have the opportunity to take away the strengths of your opponent. In a seven-game series, the best team is going to win. While no question Golden State is playing much better of late, Dallas' ability in dominating the paint will be too much to overcome.
I think Golden State can win a couple of games. That may sound good, but it's still playing .333 ball.
I think we need to point out that the last time the Warriors were in the playoffs (1993-94), Don Nelson was the coach and Avery was his point guard.
Yes, one of Avery's many stops. And now Nellie could be going back to Dallas, where his son Donnie is running things in the front office. This is going to be entertaining.
While we had the chance to see the Mavericks' sport jacket collection, the Suns did not back off at all in their approach against the Clippers.
I was surprised to see the Suns' regulars play as much as they did.
Is it possible that Phoenix felt like they owed it to the Warriors to give their best?
It could have been that. It was also an opportunity for that team to tie the franchise record for wins. They might have felt they owed that to their city, because you want to make history.
How do you see the final regular-season night playing out (Kings at Lakers, Warriors at Blazers and Hornets at Clippers)?
I think all three teams chasing the playoffs or seeding will win, and that will leave the Clippers out. It has to be extremely disappointing. That team was one quarter from making the conference finals last year, now they're really struggling to make the playoffs.
What went wrong?
I think the front office deserves a little bit of the blame. I'm a big Shaun Livingston fan, but don't think he was ready to assume the lead point guard role. I think that alienated Sam Cassell, and was not a good message to send to the rest of the roster. You want a player to earn his role. And the way they handled Corey Maggette didn't help.
Watch Greg Anthony on Wednesday's KIA NBA Shootaround (ESPN, 7 ET) before the doubleheader of Bulls/Nets (7:45 ET) and Hornets/Clippers (10:30 ET). Questions above posed by ESPN.com editor Andrew Ayres.
• Talk back to The Daily Dime gang
AP Photo/Paul Connors
Clippers coach Mike Dunleavy might have had an easier night if the Suns had unleashed the Pat Burke-Eric Piatkowski two-man game on his team. No chance of that, though.
Informed sources say Joey Crawford's NBA career is likely over.
The terms of his indefinite suspension call for Crawford, a 31-year veteran who has refereed 38 NBA Finals games, to meet with league officials at season's end to assess his future.
But Crawford made it clear to NBA executive vice president Stu Jackson on Tuesday that he would eject Duncan again if the circumstances were the same.
Crawford likewise informed superiors (including NBA commissioner David Stern) and fellow referees via e-mail Tuesday that "if my employer does not think that was acceptable, I have a problem" reffing in the future. Crawford has maintained from the start that Duncan deserved two technicals for what he deemed to be disrespecting the game by "laughing [at] and mocking the officials."
Crawford also blasted fellow referee Dick Bavetta in the e-mail obtained by ESPN.com, hinting at divisions among referees between those who do and don't support Bavetta and writing that maybe Bavetta will wind up as the crew chief in Game 7 of the NBA "which is a travesty in itself you even being in the finals."
Stern, in an appearance on Tuesday's "Pardon The Interruption" on ESPN, acknowledged Crawford's discontent, telling co-hosts Tony Kornheiser and Michael Wilbon: "In fairness, I would say that [Crawford] doesn't think he did anything wrong and probably doesn't wish to work in the NBA any more
Golden State (41-40) won all three games against Dallas (66-15) this season. The Warriors are the second team in NBA history to sweep a season series of three or more games against a team that had 20 or more wins than they had. Washington (42-40) swept Detroit (64-18) last season.
LeBron leads Cavs' drive for title
AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez
A young Warriors fan holds up a sign as her team took care of business by routing a Dirk-less Dallas team. But Golden State still needs a win Wednesday (or a Clipper loss) to qualify.
Quote of the Day:
-- Andrew Ayres
Spencer Indy: Who is back in Indy next year: Rick Carlise, Jamaal Tinsley or Jermaine O'Neal? Or none of them?
Marc Stein: Everything I've heard to date suggests that the Pacers want to keep Jermaine. If it turns out that Jermaine wants out -- and I'm guessing you saw my note in the Weekend Dime about his apparent interest in finding a way to join the Lakers -- we'll have to see if that changes things from the perspective of Indy management. That determination hasn't been made yet. With Tinsley, it's a matter of finding someone willing to trade for him. Which hasn't come close to happening yet. On the coaching change? All the chatter on the GM grapevine says it's coming soon.
Damian from Poughkeepise, New York: In your mind, who do you think is the front runner for this year's league MVP?
David Stern: To the extent I think about it, I think about the players who haven't been mentioned. I think about Kobe, Tracy McGrady and Gilbert Arenas. And Tim Duncan. I think you could flip a coin and take your choice between Steve and Dirk the way it is coming down. Dirk did lead his team to the highest number of wins.
[Editor's note: John Hollinger proposes a system to end tanking among lottery-bound teams]
What I'm proposing instead is what I call the "March 15 rule." Here's the deal: The draft order and the status of lottery-protected draft picks will remain unchanged for those teams that make the playoffs.
BUT, the lottery Ping-Pong balls for the 14 teams that don't make the playoffs will be determined by the standings as of March 15. So will the status of their lottery-protected draft picks.
In other words, the Wolves can't start tanking games in April to keep their top-10 protected pick away from the Clippers. They'll have to do it in early March, when they are still fighting for a playoff spot, making it a much more difficult proposition. So basically, they'd only keep the pick if they were actually one of the 10 worst teams. What a concept!
There are some side benefits to be had as well. For instance, the March 15 rule wouldn't punish bad teams that keep playing hard at the end of the season (Philadelphia, Charlotte) and find themselves hurtling past all their tanking brethren. Those two clubs will pick after the Wolves and Sonics in June, which just seems horribly, horribly wrong.
Does this eliminate every incentive? No. I'm sure teams that are truly out of contention, like Memphis and Boston, might just begin their tanking a little earlier. Certainly that Hawks-Celtics game on March 14 of this year would have been a doozy.