Two scenarios tonight could clinch the No. 2 seed for the Mavs:
If the Nuggets win at the Phoenix Suns, the Nuggets will win the Northwest Division, lock up the No. 3 seed and lock out the Utah Jazz from the No. 2 seed. The Jazz is the only team that can bump the Mavs out of the No. 2 seed. If the Jazz loses at Golden State, it would also assure the Mavs of the No. 2 seed.
A potential interesting dilemma for the Mavs is that if the Jazz win tonight at Golden State, the Mavs-Spurs game will tip well before Jazz-Suns on Wednesday night, so Mavs will have no choice but to play to win. Utah will then find out as it plays Phoenix if it still has a shot at No. 2.
Here's a handy playoff pairings primer that the good folks at the Jazz sent out:
WESTERN CONFERENCE 1. LOS ANGELES LAKERS
2. Dallas or Utah
3. Denver, Phoenix, Dallas or Utah
4. Utah, Denver or Phoenix
5. Phoenix, Denver or Utah
6. Portland or San Antonio
7. San Antonio or Portland
8. OKLAHOMA CITY THUNDER
CAPS: locked into position
Dallas will be seeded: #2 if Mavericks win OR Denver wins OR Utah loses a game
#3 if Mavericks and Denver loses and Utah wins both games
Utah will be seeded: #2 if Jazz wins both games and Mavericks and Nuggets lose.
#3 if Jazz wins both games, Mavericks win and Nuggets lose.
#4 if Denver wins and Utah beats Phoenix OR if Denver loses and Utah loses to Golden State and beats Phoenix.
#5 if Utah loses to Phoenix.
Denver will be seeded: #3 if Nuggets win OR if Jazz lose to Warriors and Suns lose to the Jazz.
#4 if Nuggets lose and Suns beat the Jazz.
#5 if Nuggets lose and Jazz win both games.
Phoenix will be seeded: #3 if Nuggets lose and Suns win both games.
#4 if Suns lose to the Nuggets and beat the Jazz OR Suns beat Nuggets, lose to the Jazz and Jazz beats the Warriors.
#5 if Suns lose both games OR if Suns beat Nuggets and lose to Jazz and Jazz loses to Warriors.
Portland will be seeded: #6 if Blazers win OR Spurs lose
#7 if Blazers lose and Spurs win
San Antonio will be seeded: #6 if Spurs win and Blazers lose
#7 if Spurs lose OR Blazers win
Here's the remaining schedules for seeds 2-7:
2 Dallas (54-27): vs. San Antonio (Wed)
3 Denver (53-28): @Phoenix (tonight)
4 Utah: (52-28) @Golden State (tonight); vs. Phoenix (Wed)
5 Phoenix (52-28): vs. Denver (tonight); @Utah (Wed)
6 Portland (50-31): vs. Golden State (Wed)
7 San Antonio (50-31): @Dallas (Wed)