DALLAS -- The Mavericks got back to work Tuesday with an exhaustive practice session. They'll work out Wednesday morning before boarding a flight to Atlanta to finish off the regular season against the Hawks on Thursday.
That's when things get interesting. Will the Mavs (36-29) be forced to fly across the country to open a series in Los Angeles against the Lakers or Clippers on Saturday or Sunday, or will they come home before a hop, skip and a jump over the Red River to face the Oklahoma City Thunder?
We know this much: Nothing will be settled until about 9:30 p.m. Thursday.
It comes down to how the Denver Nuggets (36-28), currently holding down the No. 6 seed, plan to attack their final two games. They play at Oklahoma City on Wednesday and at the Minnesota Timberwolves on Thursday.
The seventh-seeded Mavs hold the tiebreaker and would finish with the sixth seed if Denver drops its last two games regardless how the Mavs fare against the Hawks.
So how do the Mavs plan to approach Thursday's game? Well, nothing much has changed since Saturday's meaningless game at Chicago in that they say they're in it to win it. That being said, Jason Kidd and Jason Terry both sat out.
Coach Rick Carlisle on Tuesday said Kidd is the lone candidate to sit out against the Hawks, who could still be in a battle to secure home-court advantage in a first-round series against the Boston Celtics.
"There's a very good possibility that they [the Hawks] will be very motivated to play and win that game," Carlisle said. "Either way, we've got to go into it with the idea that it's an important game for us; how we compete, we want to win. The Hawks have had some injury issues. There's a chance they'll get [Al] Horford back for our game and so we're going to see a team out there that in all likelihood will be very motivated."
Which begs the question: How motivated will the Mavs really be to win one more game? How motivated will the Nuggets be to stay away from the Lakers? A Mavs loss Thursday would give Dallas the No. 7 seed and a West finals rematch with OKC if Denver wins at least one of its two remaining games.
Are the Lakers really the team to stay away from? Has OKC's unimpressive stretch since the All-Star break and now James Harden's injury situation made Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook the more favorable team to face?
"It’s hard. It’s hard to read teams from this season," Dirk Nowitzki said. "Obviously the Spurs have looked phenomenal since the All-Star break. I think they’ve only lost five or six games. But other than that, teams are losing to teams they shouldn't be losing to just because there are so many games and so much traveling going on."