Spurs (38-29) vs. Dallas Mavericks (27-39)
When, where: Tuesday, 7 p.m., American Airlines Center, Dallas
Last season: Spurs won series 3-1
All-time series record: Spurs lead 110-68
Season series: Spurs lead 2-0
Last meeting: Spurs 105, Mavs 101, Jan. 16, Dallas
Spurs' last game: Beat Milwaukee Bucks 121-114, Sunday, AT&T Center
Mavs' last game: Lost to Houston Rockets 94-93, Sunday, Dallas
Spurs' last 10 games/streak: 6-4, won five
Mavs' last 10 games/streak: 1-9, lost five
Spurs' injury/inactive report: Forward Drew Eubanks (G League assignment), out; forward Rudy Gay (illness), out; forward Ben Moore (G League assignment), out; point guard Dejounte Murray (torn right anterior cruciate ligament), out.
Mavs' injury/inactive report: Guard J.J. Barea (right Achilles surgery), out; forward/guard Luka Doncic (left knee strain), questionable; guard Daryl Macon (G League assignment), out; forward/center Kristaps Porzingis (left knee surgery), out.
Notable: The Spurs are seventh in the Western Conference standings, a half-game behind the No. 6 Los Angeles Clippers (39-29) and a half-game ahead of No. 8 Utah (37-29). If the postseason started Tuesday, the Silver and Black would play No. 2 seed Denver . . . The Silver and Black have 15 games left in the regular season, eight at home and seven on the road. After playing Dallas, the Spurs open a four-game homestand Friday against the New York Knicks. They also will host Portland (Saturday), Golden State (Monday) and Miami (Wednesday, March 20) . . . San Antonio is 32-3 (23-1 at home) this season when leading after three quarters . . . Guard Patty Mills is the only player in Spurs history to have five seasons with 120+ three-pointers . . . Derrick White had 18 points, nine assists, six rebounds and six blocks in last Wednesday's win in Atlanta. The only other guard in NBA to post those numbers was Tracy McGrady in 2000 . . . The Spurs are the only NBA team with an all-time winning record against every team in the league. They lead the series with Milwaukee 110-68.
Brimming with confidence after knocking off three of the NBA’s top teams, including Eastern Conference leader Milwaukee, the Spurs now face the challenge of having to get up emotionally for an opponent languishing near the bottom of the standings.
The surging Silver and Black have won five straight since going 1-7 on their annual rodeo road trip, but they’ll be in trouble if they look past the Mavericks when the Interstate 35 rivals meet Tuesday night in Dallas.
The Spurs are in no position to take anybody lightly. After all, this is a team that gave up 130 points in a loss to the lowly New York Knicks last month in the Big Apple. San Antonio also lost to the Chicago Bulls, who are only two spots above the last-place Knicks in the Eastern Conference standings, at the AT&T Center in December.
After the Silver and Black beat Milwaukee 121-114 on Sunday, veteran guard DeMar DeRozan was asked about the significance of the victories over the Bucks, Denver Nuggets and Oklahoma City Thunder this month at the AT&T Center.
Milwaukee (50-17) has the best record in the league, Denver is No. 2 in the West, and OKC was third in the West when it lost to San Antonio.
"We can beat anybody in this league,” DeRozan said. “We always show up for the big tests. We've just got to be consistent with that, understanding when we go on the road, let's continue to do the same thing.
"Continue to be consistent and we've got to treat everybody who we play like they're the No. 1 and No. 2 seed, so we can give our best, pull out wins."
Perceiving Dallas as a No. 1 or No. 2 seed could be difficult. Yes, the Mavericks have two bona fide stars in rookie Luka Doncic and Kristaps Porzingis, but Doncic is questionable for Tuesday’s game with a left knee strain and Porzingis is out for the season after tearing his left ACL.
The Mavs traded Dennis Smith Jr., DeAndre Jordan, Wesley Matthews, and two future No. 1 draft picks to the Knicks in January for Porzingis, Courtney Lee and Tim Hardaway Jr.
Meanwhile, the Spurs’ much-maligned defense has come around and the team is playing with the consistency critical to making a run in the season’s homestretch.
A victory against the Mavs would give the Silver and Black their longest winning streak of the season. San Antonio has 15 games left in the regular season, eight at home and seven on the road. The Spurs are No. 7 in the West standings, a half-game behind the No. 6 Los Angeles Clippers and a half-game ahead of No. 8 Utah.
Have the Spurs finally turned the corner after struggling to be consistent for much of the season?
“No, I don’t make sweeping assumptions about where we are or where we’re going,” coach Gregg Popovich said after Sunday’s win over Milwaukee. “It’s just like any other year. We’ve always tried to be the best team we could be by the time the playoffs arrive, and we hope that we will be part of the playoffs.
“This group is getting better. They’ve got a ways to go, but that’s understandable considering the circumstances. We can continue to improve and hopefully that will get us in and we can do well.”
The Silver and Black have made the playoffs for 21 consecutive seasons under Popovich, who has led the franchise to all five of its championships.
The Spurs started their five-game win streak at home against Detroit on Feb. 27 and beat OKC three night later at the AT&T Center. They beat Denver last Monday and got a road win against Atlanta on Wednesday, before capping off the week with the victory over Milwaukee.
“Tonight was a huge win for us, confidence-wise,” veteran backup guard Patty Mills said. “We can show that we can play the way that we need to play to be in the playoffs and make a run in the playoffs.
“Tonight was a great example of understanding the game plan, executing the game plan, and trusting each other on the defensive end. It was probably one of the best games for us all season in playing team defense, and that’s huge for all of us.”
Spurs starting forward Rudy Gay, missed Sunday’s win over Milwaukee with an illness and is listed as questionable for Tuesday night’s game in Dallas.