DALLAS -- The San Antonio Spurs have very quietly put together a terrific regular season with a surprisingly deep roster bolstered with no-name youngsters who have fit seamlessly into the team concept.
And on Thursday they added edge and attitude by trading Richard Jefferson to Golden State for former Spur Stephen Jackson. He had not reported to the team as of early Saturday, but he could be in uniform tonight to play against the Mavericks. The Spurs won Friday night at Western Conference-leading Oklahoma City with Manu Ginobili sitting the game out.
Ginobili is expected to play tonight as the Spurs try to become the second team in the West to notch 30 wins.
"You’re talking about maybe the hottest team right now in the league," Mavs guard Jason Kidd said. "You've got to be prepared. We've got to play our best if we’re going to have any chance of beating them tonight."
A San Antonio win would push Dallas 6 1/2 games back in the Southwest Division standings with just 20 games to go -- not that either veteran team is particularly concerned with seeding in this shortened regular season. Still, the Mavs would certainly like to start the playoffs at home and it will take moving up in the standings to do so.
Meanwhile, the Mavs are just looking to create some momentum. They got two ugly victories over woeful Washington and Charlotte after their 2-7 stretch. Of their final 21 games, the Mavs face 15 that currently occupy playoff spots.
"We would like to be healthy going into the playoffs, but you got to win games first," Kidd said. "So we can’t think about the playoffs right now. We got to win games and hopefully everything else falls into place."
Records: Spurs (29-13); Mavs (25-20)
When: 8 p.m.
Where: American Airlines Center
TV: FSSW, NBA TV
Radio: ESPN Dallas 103.3 FM/1270 AM (Spanish)
What to watch: The Mavs' 3-point defense will again be put to the test against one of the league's best 3-point shooting teams. The Spurs have killed Dallas this season from beyond the arc, dropping 16-of-33, including 11 in the first half in a 22-point win at San Antonio in early January. In late January, the Spurs' bench wiped out an 18-point lead in the fourth quarter by hitting 7-of-8 from long range. They finished 12-of-25 for the game. Mavs guard Jason Terry calls 3-point defense the key to tonight's game.
Key matchup: Rodrigue Beaubois vs. Tony Parker
This would seem a great time to start Beaubois over Vince Carter at shooting guard and let him go after Parker from the start. Even if coach Rick Carlisle doesn't agree with that approach, expect Beaubois to see plenty of time on the Spurs' point guard. Parker his having a tremendous season, averaging 20.2 points and a career-best 8.0 assists.
Up next: Mavs at Denver Nuggets, 9:30 p.m., Monday