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Thursday, April 7, 2011
Where will the Mavs finish?

By Jeff Caplan

DALLAS -- The No. 2 seed is all but history and the Dallas Mavericks, who just days ago figured to be locked into the No. 3 seed, are being challenged by the Oklahoma City Thunder.

Does it matter which seed the Mavs ultimately end up with? Only that a slip to No. 4 will mean the Mavs, losers of four in a row, will head into the playoffs with little to no momentum. The No. 4 seed will play the No. 5 Denver Nuggets, as hot a team as it gets at the moment, but one that features a new cast of characters with no pressure moments together to lean on in the heat of a series.

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Nuggets head coach George Karl says he would prefer to face the Mavericks in the first round of the playoffs.

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The No. 3 seed will face either the New Orleans Hornets, who will be without power forward David West for the duration, the Portland Trail Blazers or the Memphis Grizzlies.

So where will the Mavs finish? Here's a quick look at Dallas' and Oklahoma City's final four games:

Dallas Mavericks (53-25)
Games against playoff teams: 1 (vs. Hornets, April 13)
Games against non-playoff teams: 3 (vs. Los Angeles Clippers, Friday; vs. Phoenix Suns, Sunday; at Houston Rockets, Monday).

Oklahoma City Thunder (52-26)
Games against playoff teams: 2 (vs. Nuggets, Friday; at Los Angeles Lakers, Sunday)
Games against non-playoff teams: 2 (at Sacramento Kings, Monday; vs. Milwaukee Bucks, April 13)