Mavs scrapping for one of West's last spots

OAKLAND, Calif. -- The Golden State Warriors' cushion over the Dallas Mavericks has been extended to three games after they delivered a 108-85 whipping of the Mavs on Tuesday night, so Dallas’ hopes of earning the West’s sixth seed are so slim they’re not even worth discussing.

Actually, the Mavs aren’t interested in discussing potential playoff seedings at all at this point.

“I’m thinking about how we’re playing right now, what went wrong tonight and what we’ve got to do to get ready for tomorrow,” Mavs coach Rick Carlisle said, ready to flush this stinker and fast forward to Wednesday night’s visit to Utah. “As far as the seeding, that’s a distraction from the task at hand, which is making sure we’re as right as we can be.”

If the Mavs aren’t right more often than not the rest of the regular season, there’s a good chance that they’ll be playoff spectators for the second straight year, a fate that simply isn’t acceptable for a franchise that participated in the previous 12 postseasons.

The 38-27 Mavs are sitting in eighth place at the moment, percentage points behind the Memphis Grizzlies, who are 20-7 since big man Marc Gasol’s return from a knee injury. Dallas is just one game ahead of the Phoenix Suns, whose remaining schedule is heavy with teams from the lesser Eastern Conference and Western Conference lightweights.

“It’s going to be a beast to get in,” Dirk Nowitzki said. He he had an off night, finishing with only 12 points on 4-of-11 shooting. “But we’ve got to take care of what we can control, which is to play hard and win as many games as we can.”

The Mavs certainly can’t control who they’ll meet in the first round if they do make the playoffs. In all likelihood, they’ll head either north or south on Interstate 35 and make a quick postseason exit.

That’s just the harsh reality. The Mavs have lost eight straight games to the San Antonio Spurs. Their losing streak against the Oklahoma City Thunder stands at 11 games, including a sweep in the 2012 first round.

It’s not like Dallas would have been favored against any of the West’s potential 3-seeds, but the Mavs would at least have a puncher’s chance against the Los Angeles Clippers, Houston Rockets or Portland Trail Blazers. Against the Spurs or Thunder, it would be an accomplishment for Dallas to win a playoff game for the first time since their title run, much less a series.

But the Mavs can’t afford to think that far ahead. As Nowitzki said, they just hope to earn the right to compete on a playoff stage at this point.

“Right now with this situation, we’ve got to win every game,” said point guard Jose Calderon, who committed a season-high six turnovers as the Mavs shot a season-low 36.6 percent against the Warriors. “If we want to be in the playoffs, I think there’s no time to think about where you’re going to be. You want to be there. That’s all you can think about. Right now, it’s just trying to be there. If we can think about seeding in the last game of the season, OK, I’ll take it, meaning we’re in.

“I just want to be in the playoffs. That’s all.”

Any higher hopes for Dallas would just be delusional.