In the final week of the NBA season, both the Dallas Mavericks(40-29) and Memphis Grizzlies(36-33) have a lot to play for. Dallas is trying to hold onto at least the sixth seed in the Western Conference to avoid the Play-In Tournament, while the Grizzlies are trying to move up to the eighth seed, which would mean they would have to win one game to advance in the Play-In Tournament.
The Grizzlies defeated the Pelicans 115-110 on Monday night, so you would think Dallas, who was off on Monday night, would be the fresher team, but that was not the case.
Behind Ja Morant’s 24 points, eight assists, and seven rebounds, and Dillon Brooks’ 22 points, Memphis routed the Mavericks 133-104 at FedExForum.
Memphis had seven players in double-figures on Tuesday night and outscored Dallas by 11 points in the third quarter to take complete control of the game. The Grizzlies led by as many as 29 points in the fourth quarter.
For Dallas, Tim Hardaway Jr. led the way with 19 points, and Willie Cauley-Stein had a season-high 16 points. Luka Doncic struggled against the Grizzlies. He shot 4/16 from the field and had 12 points. Doncic also had five turnovers.
“I wasn’t myself,” Doncic said after the game. “We’ve got to bounce back, but that game was obviously one of the worst I’ve ever played. I’ve got to be better than that.”
According to Mavericks head coach Rick Carlisle, the game changed in the first quarter when the Grizzlies went on a 11-2 run to close the quarter, and Memphis led 28-27 after one.
“Obviously, we didn’t play well over the course of 48 minutes,” Carlisle said. “A key part of this was the way we ended the first quarter… They were able to finish the quarter, I think, on a 9-0 run to take the lead. They got the momentum from there, and we were never really able to get it back. Very disappointing loss, but we gotta get ready for tomorrow.”
This was a game Dallas needed to have and to play as poorly as they did, was disappointing. Dallas and Portland have identical records, but Portland is now the fifth seed, while Dallas has fallen to six. Dallas has a 1.0 game lead over the seventh-seeded Lakers.
The good news for Dallas is they are expected to get Kristaps Porzingis back on Wednesday against the Pelicans, who missed his seventh consecutive game due to a knee injury. However, they will be without JJ Redick, who left the game in the third quarter with a right heel injury and did not return. Redick missed 21 games with that same injury.
All is not lost, but Dallas needs to bounce back against New Orleans if they want to continue to be in a position to avoid the Play-In Tournament.