The Mavs take on the Lakers at the Staples Center later this afternoon in a matchup with playoff seeding on the line for the two Western Conference rivals. Unfortunately for the Mavs, the Lakers have played well even with an injured Kobe Bryant on the shelf as players like Andrew Bynum and Matt Barnes have taken their game to the next level in their superstar's absence. Let's check in with the Mavs to find out what's making headlines with the reigning NBA champions.
- Jeff Caplan of ESPNDallas.com says the chances of the Mavs missing the playoffs has become highly unlikely as other contenders faltered in important contests on Saturday night. Caplan predicts the Mavs will take the sixth seed which would mean Sunday afternoon's battle against the Lakers could potentially be a preview of the first round of the playoffs. If the Mavs somehow collapse and fail to secure a playoff spot, it would mark the first time a reigning champion missed the postseason since the Bulls in 1999.
- While he won't be taking home any hardware for his coaching performance this season, Mavs head coach Rick Carlisle has successfully handled a difficult season, writes Eddie Sefko of The Dallas Morning News (subscribers only). From losing six players off of a championship-winning squad to the Lamar Odom debacle, Carlisle has been able to keep his team focused on winning basketball games amidst myriad setbacks.
- Dwain Price of the Star-Telegram says a healthy Jason Kidd has been a major reason why the Mavs can now breathe a little more easily about their hopes for the playoffs. With Kidd dealing with a strained right groin, the Mavs went 1-3 and fear set in surrounding their chances of making the playoffs. While he'll be in the starting lineup today against the Lakers, the Mavs plan to periodically rest Kidd over the remainder season with hopes of keeping the future Hall of Famer fresh for the playoffs.