Nash returns tonight. Can he stick it to Dallas one more time?  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)





Dallas Mavericks 115, Phoenix Suns 90 With the postseason out of the question, is there really much left to play for? Is it worth it to keep running the starters out there and playing them 30 or more...

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Dirk: am I going home early yet again? (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

While the Suns face an uncertain future, one thing seems sure: the 13th pick in the upcoming NBA draft (less than 1% chance to win the lottery).

Utah is in the catbird seat for the 12th pick, holding a 2 game lead over the Suns (1 fewer win, plus the tiebreak by losing the season series), while Houston has the 14th pick locked in with a 3-game lead of their own. Considering there's only 2 or 3 games left for each team, the suspense is over.

The Dallas Mavericks, on the other hand, could finish anywhere from 2-4 in the conference standings. Big Whup, right? Well, to Dallas I believe it should be a big, big whup because no one wants to play Denver in the first round. If Dallas fades to 4th (OKC is only 1 game back with 3 winnable games to go), they get to face the fast and furious Denver Nuggets and will likely be first-round losers yet again.

Click the jump for much more preview... 

Denver Nuggets Want To Face The Dallas Mavericks In The Playoffs. - The Heart of Texas - SB Nation Dallas

The Nuggets have stated the obvious already - that it's preferable to face the fading Mavs (old, losers of 4 of 5, and a perennial playoff loser) over the young, studly Thunder.

"If we had to pick and choose on it, we would probably say 55 percent Dallas, 45 percent Oklahoma City, only because Oklahoma City is athletic like we are and they have two great players."In a lot of ways, I think their strength is their weakness," Karl said. "Their strength is they have tremendous ability to score by making jump shots. They are the best jump shooting team in the NBA by far. [Coach Rick] Carlisle is a very good offensive guy in getting good shots and tricking teams into open shots. They're very unselfish in finding the open man and getting open jump shots.

"In some sense, the jump shot doesn't go in as much as scoring in the paint. The two things I would say is I wish Dallas would score more in the paint and get to the free throw line more."

Wow, big bulletin-board material for a playoff juggernaut right?

Somehow, I doubt it. The Mavericks and their core of Nowitzki and Terry (and the other guys have changed over the years) know they have trouble once it comes to playoff time. They know it because they prove it year after year. And the Nuggets don't give a rat's behind about any of that.

The question the Mavs have to ask themselves is this: how important is it to win a playoff series?


Western Standings

GP W-L PCT
San Antonio Spurs 80 61-19 .763
Los Angeles Lakers 79 55-24 .696
Dallas Mavericks 79 54-25 .684
Oklahoma City Thunder 79 53-26 .671
Denver Nuggets 80 49-31 .613
Portland Trail Blazers 80 47-33 .588
New Orleans Hornets 79 46-33 .582
Memphis Grizzlies 79 45-34 .570
Houston Rockets 80 42-38 .525
Phoenix Suns 79 38-41 .481
Utah Jazz 80 37-43 .463
Golden State Warriors 79 35-44 .443
Los Angeles Clippers 81 31-50 .383
Sacramento Kings 79 23-56 .291
Minnesota Timberwolves 80 17-63 .213

 

If a second round showing is good enough, then fight like crazy for the 2nd or 3rd seed. Round 1 should be winnable (Portland/NO/Memphis), but round 2 looms the Lake show. By contrast, if you can win Round 1 as the 4 seed, the 1-4-5-8 bracket should provide an easier Round 2 - the fading Spurs or Memphis/NO.

So Dallas has a quandry. Take the risk/reward of the 1-4-5-8 bracket? Or the bird-in-hand 2-3-6-7 bracket with the lower ceiling?

We'll see tonight.

The Suns, as I mentioned above, have little to play for besides pride. They can't even improve their draft position unless they "lose out" (which is quite possible) and Utah "wins out" (highly, highly unlikely). Utah faces 2 playoff teams in their final 2 games - New Orleans and Denver - and they've shown 0 interest in winning, losing 10 of 11 (good showing, Lakers!).

The Jazz have a bright future, though it's without a superstar. SF Gordon Heyward and PF Derrick Favors are nice building blocks, along with 2 lottery picks in the upcoming draft (currently 6th and 12th). They could conceivably win the lottery twice and take future stars at PG and SF or C. Still, they will need a superstar (just as the Suns do) if they want to contend again, but that's a lot nicer future than the Suns currently face.

At least Steve Nash isn't asking for a trade.

Phoenix Suns in transition as possible NBA lockout looms

"I want to stay and be part of the franchise moving forward," Nash said. "I would love to see us improve. I'm not going to be satisfied or happy on a team that doesn't make the playoffs, but it's up to us to fight and improve. Whether it was announced or desired, this is a team in transition. We've made moves continuously since July 1, and I don't think we're quite settled on what we want to be. I don't think management is going to stop until they get a group or project they feel good about."

Read more: http://www.azcentral.com/sports/suns/articles/2011/04/07/20110407phoenix-suns-transition-nba-lockout.html#ixzz1J8BkFK9z

 

Summary

What will the Suns do this summer? Who knows.

But for tonight, Nash looks to help the Suns pile on the Mavericks sloppy finish.

The big silver lining to tonight's game is for the Phoenix Suns to "help" the Mavs drop to the 4th seed and watch them get run off the floor by the Nuggets in the Round 1.

Suns' new role: playoff spoiler.


In a season gone sour, sometimes the little things are all there is left to enjoy. For New Orleans, tonight’s 109-97 victory was about Willie Green canning his first 12 shots to help the...

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New Orleans Hornets guard Willie Green, right, shoots over Phoenix Suns center Channing Frye in the first half of an NBA basketball game in New Orleans, Friday, April 8, 2011. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

What can we say but the man delivered on his promise.

Prior to tonight's route at the hands of the Hornets, Jared Dudley stated

"I'm promising No. 10 tonight," Dudley said. "Put it in the books. Get it over with. I don't want the Mark McGwire stress on me. Get the record. It's going to be a good one."

The man did it at 9.56 in the first quarter. And the world will never be the same

The rest of the matchup was kind of a drag.  This Willie Green dude can play a bit. Green hit his first 12 field goal attempts, finishing with 31. The Suns plans to make Chris Paul a shooter failed. Paul dished 12 assists to his pals.

The Suns jumped out to a double digit first quarter lead with Grant Hill leading the way, but New orleans went on an 18-7 run to lead the Suns by one.

Phoenix gave up 8-0 and 7-0 runs to start both the 3rd and 4th quarters

The Suns allowed the Hornets to shoot 56% from the field, and 8 of 15 from behind the arc. Dudley went for 18 and 7, Marcin Gortat 17 and 6, while Aaron Brooks, subbing for Steve Nash went for 9 and 9 in 30 minutes.

 

Woe Are the Suns: SB

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