DALLAS -- After the impressive Game 5 victory, Jason Kidd was asked if two days off prior to Thursday's Game 6 will help keep him fresh.
Kidd just smiled and said, you play 'em when they schedule 'em.
Thing is Kidd knew darn well that the NBA wouldn't have had to schedule Game 6 at all if the Dallas Mavericks had protected a 23-point lead in the final 13:16 and a 10-point lead in the final 3:33 of Game 4.
Monday's Game 5 win would have eliminated the Portland Trail Blazers and the Mavs would have become the first team in either conference to advance in the playoffs.
And after the NBA on Tuesday night released a start date of Monday for the Dallas-Portland vs. Los Angeles-New Orleans semifinal series, the Mavs and Kidd would have been sitting pretty with a week to rest up, most likely for the two-time defending champion Lakers, who took a 3-2 lead over the Hornets late Tuesday night.
But doing it the hard way seems to be the Mavs' way. Dirk Nowitzki said it's tough knowing they could be watching everyone else play, but he figures the way the rest of the West has gone, it's not surprising they're still going, too.
"Yeah, I mean I think coming into the playoffs the way it already shaped up down the stretch, the West is wide open," Nowitzki said. "I think that's what you see now in the playoffs. Teams can be beaten. No team really looks unbeatable right now. So we've just got to keep on plugging and keep on fighting and hopefully get a big win on Thursday and go from there."
The Los Angeles Lakers will conclude Game 6 at the New Orleans Hornets Thursday night before the Mavs tip at Portland. If Dallas fails to clinch the series, Game 7 will be back at American Airlines Center on Saturday night.
If the Mavs win it then, they will fly to Los Angeles on Sunday and begin the second round Monday night.