Dallas Mavericks (33-48) vs.Spurs (47-34)
When, where: Wednesday, 7 p.m., AT&T Center
Last season: Spurs won series 3-1
All-time series record: Spurs lead 111-68
Season series: Spurs lead 3-0
Last meeting: Spurs 112, Mavs 105, March 12, Dallas
Mavs' last game: Beat Phoenix Suns 120-109, Tuesday, Dallas
Spurs' last game: Beat Cavaliers 112-90, Sunday, Cleveland
Mavs' last 10 games/streak: 5-5, won two
Spurs' last 10 games/streak: 5-5, won two
Mavs' injury/inactive report: Forward Kostas Antetokounmpo (left knee soreness), questionable; guard J.J. Barea (right Achilles surgery), out; forward/guard Luka Doncic (right thigh contusion), probable; guard Tim Hardaway (left tibia stress reaction), out; forward Maxi Kleber (right knee contusion), probable; guard Courtney Lee (left hip contusion), questionable; forward/center Kristaps Porzingis (left knee surgery), out.
Spurs' injury/inactive report: Point guard Dejounte Murray (torn right anterior cruciate ligament), out.
(The game notes are at the bottom of the story.)
SAN ANTONIO – Except for a late three-pointer by Paul George on Tuesday night, the Spurs would be in position to nail down the No. 6 seed in the Western Conference playoffs with a victory over the Dallas Mavericks in their regular-season finale at home Wednesday night.
San Antonio still could wind up with the No. 6 seed, but it's going to need help.
The Silver and Black will go into the final night of the NBA regular season with only one certainty: A victory against Dallas would ensure they don’t have to play defending champion Golden State in the first round of the postseason. And that’s a good thing, considering the Warriors eliminated the Spurs last year, winning a first-round series in five games.
Adding to the drama and emotion of the night Wednesday is the fact that it will be the last game of Mavs icon Dirk Nowitzki, who announced his retirement after Dallas’ home finale Tuesday night.
Nowitzki scored a season-high 30 points in the Mavs’ 120-109 victory over the Phoenix Suns. Nowitzki, 40, played a record 21 seasons with the same franchise.
Spurs All-Star forward LaMarcus Aldridge said Tuesday after practice that he thought Nowitzki was returning for another season. Aldridge praised Nowitzki and said that as a player, Nowitzki has meant “a whole lot" to him during his career.
“As a player who loves to take my fadeaway and my jump shot, he’s been great, like an ambassador for the fadeaway, just making it OK and showing that you can win games and be dominant with the fadeaway,” Aldridge said.
True to form, the Silver and Black aren’t tying themselves up in knots over all the different playoff scenarios. Their main focus since beating Cleveland on the road Sunday has been to concentrate on Dallas and let the playoff pairings shake out.
“There’s a whole lot riding on that – three spots,” guard Bryn Forbes said Tuesday after practice. “You know, we could be in sixth or we could be in eighth.”
The Spurs also could finish seventh, which is where they sit heading into the season finale. George’s big shot with 1.8 seconds left gave No. 6 Oklahoma City a 112-111 victory over Houston. A Rockets win would have dropped the Thunder into a tie with San Antonio, but the Silver and Black would have moved up to the No. 6 seed because they own the tiebreaker against OKC.
San Antonio still could wind up with the No. 6 playoff seed if it beats Dallas and OKC loses in Milwaukee. The Bucks, who own the best record in the league, are expected to sit their key players Tuesday night, so chances are good the Thunder will hang on to the No. 6 seed.
Depending on how the last games shake out, the Spurs could wind up playing either Denver, Houston or Portland if they beat Dallas. A loss to the Mavs would pit San Antonio against No. 1 Golden State or No. 2 Denver.
“We just want to finish strong heading into the playoffs, no matter where we’re at,” Forbes said. “We want to finish strong and keep moving forward, keep getting better. We want to play our best game (against Dallas). With more on the line, I think everybody is going to be locked in.”
Forbes has played in all of the Spurs’ 81 games and started all but one going into the season finale. A third-year pro out of Michigan State, Forbes is averaging 11.8 points, 2.9 rebounds and 2.1 assists.
Veteran guard Patty Mills, one of the team’s top reserves, also has played in every game this season, averaging 10.0 points, 2.2 rebounds and 3.0 assists.
Forbes’ streak of starts almost ended when he sustained a contusion in his right calf early in the Spurs’ home win over Detroit on Feb. 27. But he started the next game against OKC three days later, finishing with 16 points on 6-of-9 shooting, including 3 of 5 from the three-point line.
“I was all day icing, contrast bath, massages,” Forbes said, recalling what he did to recover from the injury quickly. “I spent a whole two days trying to get back because I hadn’t missed a game. That was big for me and, yeah, I do kind of take pride in that.
Notable: San Antonio currently holds the No.7 seed in the Western Conference and would play No. 2 Denver in the first round of the playoffs if the postseason started Wednesday. But the Silver and Black still have a shot at the No. 6 seed if they beat Dallas and Oklahoma City, which currently is No. 6, loses in Milwaukee on the final night of the regular season. San Antonio and OKC would finish with identical records, but the Spurs would be seeded higher because they own the tiebreaker against the Thunder . . . Depending on the results of Wednesday night's games, San Antonio could wind up playing either Denver, Houston or Portland in the first round if it beats Dallas. A loss to the Mavericks would pair the Spurs against either Golden State or Denver . . . The Silver and Black have the most consecutive seasons (20) with 45+ wins in NBA history. The Lakers are second with 15 (1976-1991) and the Celtics third with 12 (1957-69) . . . The Spurs are the only NBA team with an all-time winning record against every franchise in the league . . . San Antonio leads the series with Dallas 111-68, and has won 14 of the last 16 meetings.