The Dallas Mavericks continue to look for a way to make road wins translate into home success when they host the reeling Sacramento Kings on Sunday night.
The Mavericks’ stated goal of avoiding the NBA’s play-in tournament into the Western Conference playoffs has stalled of late, mostly due to three straight home defeats at the hands of the San Antonio Spurs, Philadelphia 76ers and New York Knicks.
The latter came to Big D and hammered the hosts 117-109 on Friday night, with Julius Randle bullying the Mavericks up front with 44 points and 10 rebounds.
The Mavericks have failed to take advantage of a home-heavy portion of their schedule. Since March 21, they’ve gone 7-2 on the road, but just 2-4 at home.
They are currently five games into a stretch of eight of nine at home.
The Mavericks walked off the home court on Friday sitting seventh — the top play-in position — in the West, but closer to eighth-place Memphis than sixth-place Portland.
Despite some heavy hitters in the organization — namely standout guard Luka Doncic and outspoken owner Mark Cuban — criticizing the league’s new postseason look, Dallas coach Rick Carlisle has made an attempt to accept it as a possibility as it has become more and more of a likely landing spot for his club.
“It’s a reality,” he admitted. “The play-in tournament is happening. If we end up in the play-in, then we’ll embrace that challenge. It will be a great experience.”
A visit from the Kings might be just what the doctor ordered. Two visits, in fact.
The clubs, who have not met yet this season, also will lock horns May 2 at Dallas, with a head-to-head in Sacramento sandwiched in between on April 26.
The Kings find themselves tail-spinning out of contention for the final play-in spot. At 22-34, they’d need to finish 14-2 to reach .500 for the season.
The Kings have lost nine in a row, with recent defeats looking alike. They’ve been beaten by between seven and 16 points in each of their last six losses, including 122-114 at Phoenix on Thursday to tip off a four-day, two-game trip.
A three-game sweep over the Mavericks over the next 15 days could help provide a life raft in a stretch that also includes five other games against non-elite opponents (presuming the Los Angeles Lakers remain without LeBron James).
Kings coach Luke Walton left Phoenix on Thursday claiming an about-face could potentially happen for his team if things got even a “little bit better.”
“I feel for the group,” he said after the game. “They really fought. We played pretty darn hard tonight, gave everything we had. Unfortunately, we need to do the little things better.”
The Kings remain hopeful big man Marvin Bagley III can return sometime soon. He has joined the club on their two-city trip, but without a timetable for returning from a broken hand that has caused him to miss the last 17 games.
Bagley is not expected to suit up for Sunday’s contest.
–Field Level Media