The Dallas Mavericks(42-29) have officially avoided the Play-In Tournament after defeating the Toronto Raptors 114-110 at American Airlines Center on Friday night.
The Mavericks have clinched their 23rd playoff appearance in the franchise’s 41-year history with Friday’s win. Dallas has now reached the playoffs 17 times in the last 21 seasons.
Luka Doncic finished the game with 20 points, 10 rebounds, and 11 assists tonight for his 11th triple-double of the season, and Kristaps Porzingis had 21 points and 10 rebounds.
Toronto(27-44) fought the Mavericks hard as Dallas native Jalen Harris scored a career-high 31 points (12-21 FG) to go with four assists tonight, and Malachi Flynn added 26.
After the game, Mavericks head coach Rick Carlisle talked about avoiding the Play-In Tournament.
“Getting the win is important,” Carlisle said. “It solidifies either a six or a five-spot [for playoffs], depending on what happens on Sunday. Avoiding the play-in is significant. It’s important. There’s just too many advantages to not being in the play-in situation. I’m happy for our guys — they worked hard for this.”
The Mavericks were 9-14 after 23 games but have turned it around. Dallas went 33-15 over the next 48 games. Jalen Brunson, who had 19 points to go with five rebounds and four assists off the bench, talked about the turnaround on Friday night.
“It’s awesome being able to clinch that, especially the way we started out. It was rocky,” Brunson said. “But we have guys who knew what this team was capable of, and we stuck together. We were able to keep fighting through. Just kept pushing. Kept trying to get better. Kept sticking together through the tough times.”
Doncic added: “Obviously, I remember earlier when we were in the 12th or 13th spot, and everybody had us out of the playoffs,” he said. “But now we have made the playoffs, and it is good. We are going to have a couple of days off, and that is what we needed.”
At this point, the Mavericks are the fifth-seed in the West, and if they beat Minnesota or Portland loses on Sunday night, Dallas stays at five. If they lose, and Portland(41-30) wins, Dallas drops to six. If the Lakers(40-30) win out, and Portland and Dallas lose on Sunday night, it would be a three-way tie, and with that scenario, Dallas would stay at five, Portland would be six, and Los Angeles would be seven.
Currently, the Clippers and Nuggets are tied for the third spot, so who the Mavs will play won’t be known until Sunday night, but for now, here is one thing that we do know, Dallas won’t be in the Play-In Tournament.
The Mavericks improved to a perfect 27-0 when leading after the first quarter and improved to 39-2 when they build a double-digit lead at any point in the game. The Mavs went 17-42 from deep tonight and improved to 13-3 when they make 17-plus threes in a game.