Dallas Mavericks: Memphis Grizzlies

Carter signing with Memphis stings Mavs

July, 11, 2014
The Dallas Mavericks will miss Vince Carter.

They’ll miss his scoring and playmaking off the bench. They’ll miss the spacing he provided with his perimeter shooting, something the roster sorely lacks at the moment. They’ll miss his veteran presence in the locker room.

The Mavs valued all these things from the 37-year-old sixth man who proved a lot of critics wrong during his three seasons in Dallas. They just didn't value them enough to keep him from leaving for more money.

Carter, a Mavs bargain for a little more than $3 million per year over the past three seasons, will sign a three-year, $12.2 million deal with the Memphis Grizzlies, ESPN.com’s Marc Stein reports. The Mavs had been optimistic that Carter would re-sign for the cap-room exception of $2.73 million, the most they could give him with all of their salary cap space used on the Chandler Parsons offer sheet.

A source told ESPNDallas.com that Carter informed the Mavs he would return to Dallas for a two-year deal worth $8 million, but the Mavs could only offer that much if the Rockets exercised their right to match the offer to Parsons.

However, instead of waiting, Carter seized the opportunity to get that raise from a Western Conference playoff team that's also in need of scoring and playmaking off the bench.

The Mavs still hope to add a significant piece to their bench with the cap-room exception. Other targets include guard Mo Williams and center Chris Andersen, sources said.

But losing Carter is a big hit to the Mavs, both on the floor and in the locker room.

There was a lot of mutual love and respect between Carter and the Mavs. That's why the Mavs were so optimistic about the odds of keeping him. But that respect wasn't reflected with a promised pay raise, so Carter moved on to greener pastures, leaving big shoes to fill on the Mavs' bench.

Rapid Reaction: Griz 106, Mavs 105 (OT)

April, 16, 2014

MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- The fight to avoid the Western Conference’s 8-seed went down to the wire, with the Dallas Mavericks landing there after a 106-105 overtime loss to the Memphis Grizzlies.

How it happened: The Grizzlies pulled out a heart-pounding win in a game that had the intensity of a playoff game.

Memphis point guard Mike Conley scored the game-winning points by hitting a pair of free throws with 1.1 seconds remaining after a coast-to-coast drive.

Mavs guard Monta Ellis, whose 3-pointer with 13 seconds remaining in regulation tied the score, was magnificent throughout most of overtime. However, he missed his last two shots in the final minute, including a wide-open 20-footer at the buzzer.

Power forward Zach Randolph led the Grizzlies with 27 points and 14 rebounds. Center Marc Gasol nearly had a triple-double with 19 points, nine rebounds and nine assists. Conley added 22 points and five assists.

Mavs power forward Dirk Nowitzki scored a game-high 30 points, including a go-ahead 3-pointer with 46 seconds remaining in overtime. Ellis scored seven of his 18 points in overtime.

Ellis had an off night for the first 47 minutes, but he drilled that cold-blooded 3-pointer to tie the score with 13 seconds remaining in regulation. Randolph missed a long baseline fadeaway on the next possession, and the Grizzlies weren’t able to get a shot off after inbounding with 0.9 seconds remaining when the rebound went out of bounds off the Mavs.

The Mavs led by four with two minutes remaining in overtime and three after Nowitzki’s 3 in the final minute, but Dallas couldn’t close the door.

What it means: The Grizzlies get the 7-seed and the Mavs get the 8-seed that comes with a first-round date against the San Antonio Spurs. Memphis will face the Oklahoma City Thunder in the first round. Dallas (49-33) fell short of 50 wins for the third consecutive season after hitting the milestone 11 straight times. The Grizzlies (50-32) finished the regular season with a franchise-record 14-game home winning streak.

Play of the game: Conley’s frantic drive in transition resulted in a foul by Vince Carter to send Conley to the line for the game-winning free throws with 1.1 seconds remaining. Conley grabbed the rebound after a missed Ellis jumper with 6.7 seconds on the clock and raced coast to coast.

Stat of the night: The Mavs played 22 games that were decided by three or fewer points this season (11 wins, 11 losses). According to Elias Sports Bureau research, that is the most such games for any team in the league and the second-most in a single season in the Mavericks’ franchise history (25 in 1983-84).

Dallas' dominance of Memphis misleading

April, 16, 2014
MEMPHIS -- From the Dept. of Misleading Statistics: The Dallas Mavericks are 3-0 this season against the Memphis Grizzlies with an average margin of victory of 13.4 points.

Memphis was at full strength for only one of those games, and that was way back on Nov. 2, when the Grizzlies were stumbling out of the gates at the beginning of the season.

The Mavs had the good fortune to face the Grizzlies while Memphis was missing one of its stars in the other two meetings. Center Marc Gasol missed the Grizzlies’ Dec. 18 loss in Dallas. Point guard Mike Conley sat out when the Mavs won at FedExForum on Feb. 5.

“This time around, they look like a playoff team,” Mavs coach Rick Carlisle said. “It’s going to be a tough game. That’s all right. The more tough games we can play headed into the playoffs, that should help us. We’re going to have to be ready.”

The Grizzlies have had to be one of the best teams in the league since the calendar flipped to 2014 to earn a playoff spot in the West. Memphis was 13-17 on Dec. 31, including 10-13 without Gasol. Since then, the Grizzlies are 36-15, with only the San Antonio Spurs and Los Angeles Clippers posting a better record in that span.

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Dirk NowitzkiMatthew Emmons/USA TODAY SportsWould Dirk Nowitzki and the Mavs have a fighting chance against Kevin Durant and the Thunder?
ESPNDallas.com columnist Jean-Jacques Taylor and MavsOutsider.com editor-in-chief Bryan Gutierrez will join me each week to run a three-man weave on a few questions on the minds of Mavs fans.

1. How much of a difference does it make whether the Mavs face the Thunder or Spurs?

Gutierrez: It makes a dramatic difference. Dallas has the advantage in coaching and bench support against Oklahoma City. At best, they're even in those categories against San Antonio. The Spurs struggle against younger and athletic teams. No one will confuse the Mavericks as either of those. Dallas has lost nine straight to their neighbors to the south. Meanwhile, the recent run of success against the Thunder should give the Mavericks more confidence if they were to matchup in the first round. I think a series against San Antonio would be death by paper cuts, while a series against Oklahoma City would potentially be death by technical knockout.

Taylor: The Mavs really have no chance to beat San Antonio in a seven-game series. The Spurs are too disciplined and too good offensively and defensively for the Mavs to beat them. The have virtually no chance to beat Oklahoma City, but it's more of a chance than they have to beat San Antonio. First, they beat Oklahoma City the last two times they've played them even though OKC didn't have its full squad either time. So much of professional sports is about confidence. The Mavs believe they can beat Oklahoma City. In their heart of hearts, I don't know that they believe they can beat the Spurs. They will compete, but I don’t know if they believe when it comes to San Antonio.

MacMahon: The Mavs wouldn’t be favored in either series, but they’d at least have a shooter’s chance against the Thunder. They’d be in serious jeopardy of getting swept by the Spurs. You can debate how much stock should be put in Dallas’ two March wins over Oklahoma City, but they at least gave the Mavs reason to believe they can beat the Thunder. That doesn’t exist against a San Antonio team that hasn’t lost to the Mavs since Jason Kidd was playing point guard in Dallas. The Mavs’ ball movement gives the Thunder big problems. If the Mavs are hot from 3-point range, they’ve got a shot to beat the Thunder.

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Dirk Nowitzki and Zach RandolphJoe Murphy/Getty ImagesDirk Nowitzki and the Mavs can reach their goal of 50 wins this season with a victory in Memphis.
MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- Not one member of the Dallas Mavericks has publicly discussed their desire to avoid the San Antonio Spurs in the playoffs.

Some truths don’t need to be said out loud.

The chance to claim the seventh seed in the Western Conference playoffs -- and not be forced to make a first-round trip to San Antonio -- is obviously major motivational fodder for the Mavs entering Wednesday night’s regular-season finale against the Memphis Grizzlies. The loser faces the Spurs, who swept both the Mavs and Grizzlies this season and have won their past nine meetings with Dallas.


Which matchup are you most looking forward to watching tonight?


Discuss (Total votes: 5,043)

Opening the playoffs against the Oklahoma City Thunder or Los Angeles Clippers is no treat, but the Mavs’ odds are much better against those potential No. 2 seeds than if they match up with the Spurs. But that isn’t the only reason this is a big game for the Mavs.

The Mavs set 50 wins as a goal at the beginning of the season, and they’re fired up about the chance to accomplish that in their 82nd game.

Not long ago, that seemed like a bare-minimum expectation for the Mavs, who won at least 50 games in 11 straight seasons before going 36-30 in the lockout-shortened season and 41-41 with last season’s temp-filled roster. But the days of Dirk Nowitzki’s Mavs joining Bill Russell’s Boston Celtics, Magic Johnson’s Los Angeles Lakers and Tim Duncan’s San Antonio Spurs as the only teams to have a decade-long run of such seasons feel distant now.

For a franchise trying to rebuild a championship contender, 50 wins is a major milestone.

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Mavs-Grizzlies will decide West's 7, 8 seeds

April, 14, 2014
DALLAS -- The loser has to see the San Antonio Spurs in the first round of the playoffs.

That’s what will be on the line during the Dallas Mavericks-Memphis Grizzlies regular-season finale Wednesday night at the FedExForum.


Which matchup are you most looking forward to watching tonight?


Discuss (Total votes: 5,043)

The Grizzlies made sure the game would be meaningful with a victory Monday night over the Phoenix Suns. That pulled Memphis even with Dallas at 49-32, making the tiebreaker the Mavs own over Memphis irrelevant.

The Golden State Warriors clinched the West’s 6-seed by beating the Minnesota Timberwolves on Monday.

The Mavs-Grizzlies winner gets the No. 7 seed and most likely opens the playoffs against the Oklahoma City Thunder, although OKC needs a win Wednesday over the Detroit Pistons or needs the Los Angeles Clippers to lose one of their last two games to wrap up the No. 2 seed.

The Mavs-Grizzlies loser gets the No. 8 seed and a certain trip to San Antonio to face a team that has the NBA’s best record and has lost only four times since the All-Star break.

Might Mavs rest in Memphis?

April, 14, 2014
DALLAS -- How much difference will Monday’s NBA action make to the Mavericks’ approach Wednesday night in Memphis?

There’s a decent chance that the Mavs could be locked into the Western Conference’s seventh seed by the time their heads hit the pillow tonight. That would be the case if the home teams prevail in the Minnesota-Golden State and Memphis-Phoenix games.

If the seventh or even sixth seed is at stake, the Mavs obviously go all out to beat the Grizzlies in the regular-season finale. What if the Mavs can’t move up or down in the standings?

“We’re prepared for Wednesday at this point in time as a game we need to win,” coach Rick Carlisle said. “Beyond that, right now, that’s where we’re at. I don’t think it’s a good idea to get into answering kharmically flawed questions like that. I’ll politely decline that. I would even say respectfully decline.

“We’ll watch the game tonight. The games tonight are going to be of great interest to everybody. But we’re working at getting better for Wednesday’s game and the playoffs in these next two days. That’s what we need to do. We got a lot of things to work on.”

The regular-season finale could also factor into whether the Mavs give up their top-20 protected pick this summer, but that's the furthest thing from Carlisle's mind.

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Mavs playoff seeding scenarios

April, 13, 2014
DALLAS – The Mavericks have made the playoffs. Now it’s a matter of what seed they get.

It’s possible for the Mavs to land anywhere from sixth to eight in the Western Conference. That means first-round matchups with the No. 1 seed San Antonio Spurs, Oklahoma City Thunder (almost certainly second seed) and Los Angeles Clippers (almost certainly third seed) are all still possibilities.

A quick look at the potential scenarios for each seed:

Sixth seed: If the Golden State Warriors lose their last three games and Mavs win in Memphis

Seventh seed: If Mavs win in Memphis or Grizzlies lose another game

Eighth seed: If Grizzlies win out, including beating Mavs

The remaining schedules for the teams relevant to the Mavs’ seeding:

WARRIORS (49-30)
Sunday: at Portland Trail Blazers
Monday: vs. Minnesota Timberwolves
Wednesday: at Denver Nuggets

Sunday: at Los Angeles Lakers
Monday: at Phoenix Suns
Wednesday: vs. Mavs

Opening Tip: Mavs one win from getting in

April, 12, 2014
Dirk Nowitzki Russ Isabella/USA TODAY SportsThe Mavericks need a win in either of their final two games to clinch a playoff berth.

DALLAS -- Never mind about magic numbers for the Mavericks.

Their path to the playoffs is simple: Win and get in.

All they need is one win at this point. It doesn't matter which game.

The Mavs can officially clinch a playoff spot by beating the Phoenix Suns on Saturday night, assuring the franchise's 13th playoff appearance in 14 seasons.

The Mavs already own the tiebreaker over the Memphis Grizzlies. Saturday night's winner gets the tiebreaker in the Mavs-Suns series.

If the Mavs beat the Suns, Dallas is assured of finishing no worse than 49-33. In that case, the loser of Monday night's Grizzlies-Suns game could finish no better than that, guaranteeing that the Mavs would be going to the playoffs.

A win over the Suns would assure the Mavs of finishing above Phoenix in the standings. The Grizzlies would have to win out to finish higher than the Mavs.

That's if the Mavs handle their business against the Suns. If not, the Mavs might have to win Wednesday night in Memphis to get in.

Only one true winner in West's last race

April, 11, 2014
DALLAS -- The final two playoff spots will be up for grabs when the Dallas Mavericks, Phoenix Suns and Memphis Grizzlies play a serendipitously scheduled round-robin tournament of sorts over the final five days of the regular season.

But let's not kid ourselves: There will be only one winner.

Playing the mighty San Antonio Spurs in the first round of the playoffs is no prize, as the Mavs were reminded during their ninth consecutive loss to their Interstate 35 rivals, if that term still applies with the recent results between the teams being so lopsided.

Not that the Oklahoma City Thunder or Los Angeles Clippers would be a great playoff draw, but a 7-seed would have least have a shooter's chance against those offensive powerhouses.

Read the entire story.

Opening Tip: Eighth seed won't do for Mavs

April, 10, 2014
DALLAS – Never mind the magic number for the Dallas Mavericks.

The bare minimum for making the playoffs doesn’t do the Mavs much good. Does opening the postseason with a stay on San Antonio’s Riverwalk, clean as it as these days, sound like any fun?

“Honestly, we’re trying to get in,” Dirk Nowitzki said. “The magic number now is two, so as far as I’m concerned, we need to win. That’s how I look at it. I’m not really thinking too much about positioning. Our goal is to get in the playoffs and then whatever happens, happens. … We’ll talk about seedings and everything else and matchups when we’re in.”

It benefits the Mavs to live in the moment. It does them no good to ponder the big picture when they need to focus intensely on every possession.

But let’s be real -- the Mavs want no part of a playoff series with the San Antonio Spurs.

The West’s best team has defeated its Interstate 35 rival eight straight times, convincingly in most cases. Here’s how long it’s been since the Mavs got the best of the Spurs: Jason Kidd, now preparing for the playoffs as the Brooklyn Nets’ head coach, had 14 points and 10 assists in that game.

Managing to end that eight-game losing streak Thursday night at American Airlines Center would greatly help the Mavs’ chances of avoiding the Spurs in the first round.

This is as good a time to play the Spurs as any. All-Star point guard Tony Parker didn’t make the trip, staying in San Antonio to nurse a sore back that isn’t expected to be an issue in the playoffs. And the Spurs don’t have much to play for, being all but locked into the West’s top seed, three games up on the Oklahoma City Thunder with four games remaining on their schedule.

The Mavs, on the other hand, have everything to play for.

The Mavs still have slim hopes of getting the sixth seed, sitting a game back of the Golden State Warriors, although Golden State owns the tiebreakers. The Mavs’ greater concern is not being the odd team out in the three-team battle for the West’s final two playoff spots.

A 4-0 road trip put the Mavs in pole position in that race, but they didn’t get any help Wednesday night, when the Suns and Grizzlies both won. The Suns stand just a half-game behind the Mavs, the Grizzlies a game and a half back.

The Mavs can give themselves a little bit of wiggle room by beating the Spurs before the serendipitously scheduled round-robin tournament of sorts starts with Suns-Mavs on Saturday night and wraps up with a Mavs-Grizzlies regular-season finale.

Finishing last in that race gets a lottery ticket. A second-place finish wouldn’t be much more fun.
SACRAMENTO -- Dirk Nowitzki figured all along the Dallas Mavericks would have to fight to make the playoffs in the deep Western Conference.

He just didn’t anticipate the Phoenix Suns being one of the teams in the mix. For that matter, nobody did.

But the Suns are right there and refusing to go away. The seventh place Mavs have given themselves a bit of breathing room ahead of the Memphis Grizzlies, creating a 1 -game cushion by beating the Sacramento Kings and having Memphis lose in San Antonio on Sunday. The Suns, on the other hand, remain just a half-game behind Dallas after wins over the playoff-bound Portland Trail Blazers and Oklahoma City Thunder this weekend.

“I think Phoenix came out of nowhere,” Dirk Nowitzki said. “The so-called analysts had them winning 15 games. They’re well coached. Memphis has [Marc] Gasol back now and they’re playing well, so it’s going to be a fight.

“Down the stretch, we’re going to see both teams. It’s going to be a fight. It’s going to be as competitive as it gets. You gotta love it.”

Yes, in a sweet twist of scheduling fate, the teams involved in a three-way fight for the West’s last two playoff spots essentially play a round-robin tournament in the last week of the regular season. The Suns and Mavs meet in Dallas on April 12, the Grizzlies go to Phoenix on April 14 and the Mavs and Grizzlies wrap up the regular season in Memphis on April 16.

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Mavericks move up after dream day off

March, 31, 2014
DALLAS -- What a sweet Sunday it was for the Dallas Mavericks.

They woke up ninth in the Western Conference standings, perhaps relaxed by a pool all day with no practice scheduled and moved up two spots before going to sleep.

How did that happen?

The Memphis Grizzlies lost in Portland. That was fairly predictable. The Phoenix Suns got blown out by the Los Angeles Lakers. That’s a pretty big stunner.

How much do you think Dirk Nowitzki enjoyed watching his pal Chris Kaman go for 28 points, 17 rebounds and 6 assists against the Suns? That qualifies as Kaman’s biggest contribution to the Mavs.

Oh, and as a bonus, the Golden State Warriors lost at home to the New York Knicks. That means the Mavs can pull within a half-game of the sixth-place Warriors by beating them Tuesday night.

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5 to 9? Playoff seeding wide open for Mavs

March, 26, 2014
DALLAS – Coach Rick Carlisle wants the Mavericks’ players focused on the task at hand each day, not caught up in checking the scoreboard and Western Conference standings.

Of course, Mavs owner Mark Cuban can do whatever he pleases, and he sees significant opportunity when he scans the standings with 10 games to go in the regular season.

Cuban has heard all the talk about the possibility of the Mavs finishing in ninth place, which would mean missing the playoffs for the second straight season after the franchise earned 12 consecutive postseason berths. He wonders why there isn’t any discussion about Dallas climbing up a few spots and grabbing the fifth seed.

“We’re, what, two games behind Portland?” Cuban said.

Yep, the 43-29 Mavs are only two games behind the slumping Trail Blazers (3-7 in their last 10 games) and own the tiebreaker by virtue of Dallas winning the season series, 2-1. The Mavs are 1 games behind the sixth-place Golden State Warriors and have a golden opportunity to make up a game when the Warriors visit Tuesday.

But the Mavs have no breathing room at the bottom of the playoff picture. They’re sitting in the final spot at the moment, percentage points behind the Memphis Grizzlies and a half-game ahead of the Phoenix Suns entering Wednesday night’s NBA action.

As much as the Mavs are living by the one-day-at-a-time mantra, there is a strong belief in the locker room that their battle for a playoff spot will go down to the last week of the season.

The Mavs’ final two games are April 12 at home against the Suns -- a meeting that will determine the Dallas-Phoenix tiebreaker -- and April 16 on the road against a Memphis team that is 0-3 against Dallas this season. The Grizzlies play in Phoenix on April 14, so the final week of the season essentially features a round-robin tournament between the three teams who are within a half-game of each other now.

“We’re going to have our hands full just to get in,” Dirk Nowitzki said. “We’ve got a heck of a schedule coming down the stretch, so I guess that’s all we’re focusing on now, finishing strong these last 10 games, keep competing and playing off each other on offense and see what happens. We’ll worry about matchups when we finally know, but the way it’s looking, it’s going to come down to the last couple of games.

“We kind of waited on Phoenix the whole season to kind of cast away, but they just keep coming. They’re just so athletic and they’re well coached. They’re a fun, fun group to watch. They’re going to keep pushing, and so are we and Memphis.”

A reminder from Cuban: Don’t forget about Portland and Golden State.

Opening Tip: 'Not the time to panic'

March, 25, 2014
DALLAS -- Halfway through this marathon homestand, this is hardly the way the Dallas Mavericks hoped it would go.

They’re 2-2 so far during their extended stay in Dallas. Both losses have come in overtime, adding extra minutes to the old legs of veterans such as Dirk Nowitzki, Shawn Marion and Vince Carter.

[+] EnlargeDirk Nowitzki
AP Photo/Don RyanDirk Nowitzki played 39 and 38 minutes in the Mavericks' recent overtime losses -- not the best medicine for the 35-year-old.
As tight as the fight for the final couple of playoff spots in the Western Conference is, any loss feels like a crisis. The Mavs now are tied with the Phoenix Suns, winners of four straight, for eighth place in the West, a half-game behind the Memphis Grizzlies.

“This is not the time to panic,” Monta Ellis said after Sunday’s loss to the Brooklyn Nets.

Panicking won’t solve any of the Mavs’ problems, but they’re well aware that their margin for error is miniscule. That’s what made blowing a double-digit third-quarter lead against the Nets -- not to mention a four-point lead in the final minute -- so difficult to stomach.

Oh, and here comes the hard part of the homestand. Three of the Mavs’ next four foes are above them in the West standings, beginning with the 52-18 Oklahoma City Thunder on Tuesday night.

“We’ve got to win them,” Carter said. “It doesn’t matter who they are. We’ve got to win them. I’m not really into who teams are, if they’re good or not. We just have to win them. Whoever’s in front of us, good or bad, we need wins.

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Monta Ellis
19.1 4.2 1.9 33.7
ReboundsT. Chandler 11.4
AssistsR. Rondo 6.4
StealsM. Ellis 1.9
BlocksT. Chandler 1.2