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Tuesday, April 24, 2012
Playoff foe?: Metta World Peace suspended 7 games

By Jeff Caplan

If the Dallas Mavericks face the Los Angeles Lakers in the first round of the playoffs, they won't see forward Metta World Peace until a potential Game 7.

The NBA on Tuesday night punished World Peace with a seven-game suspension for his vicious elbow to the head of Oklahoma City Thunder sixth man James Harden in Sunday's game. Harden sustained a concussion and has not been cleared to play. He will miss tonight's game at Sacramento. The Thunder finish the regular season at home Wednesday against Denver, the team the Mavs are jockeying with for the sixth and seventh seed.

The Lakers have one regular season game remaining Thursday night. The next six games of the suspension will be served during the playoffs. In the Mavs' 112-108 overtime loss at L.A. on April 15, World Peace played a key role with 18 points, six rebounds and four assists.

The Mavs could also face the Thunder, locked into the No. 2 seed, in a first-round series. On Tuesday, OKC coach Scott Brooks said Harden will be re-examined before Wednesday's game. He did not say if he would play Harden if he is cleared by doctors or keep him out as a precaution with the playoffs starting this weekend.