Posted Apr 10, 2014 9:50 PM
• With just three games remaining in the 2013-14 season, the Mavericks will look to take a significant step toward clinching a playoff spot when they host the Spurs on Thursday night at the American Airlines Center. A win means the Mavs (48-31) would secure a spot with just one more victory or a Memphis loss. The Spurs (60-18) possess a three-game lead on Oklahoma City for the best record in the Western Conference with both teams having four games remaining.
• Tony Parker (back sprain) will miss his second consecutive game. Cory Joseph is expected to receive the starting nod with Patty Mills receiving significant time off the bench. Manu Ginobili (left calf contusion) will be available and is expected to play.
• The Spurs have had the Mavericks' number of late, winning the last eight meetings between the two squads, including the last three in Dallas.
• Dirk Nowitzki entered rarefied air Tuesday night in Utah, passing Oscar Robertson to move into 10th place on the NBA's all-time scoring list. The Spurs have been able to hold the 12-time All-Star relatively in check over the years, holding Nowitzki to a career 43.3 percent shooting clip, his second lowest against any team. "There's always room for improvement because Dirk always scores," Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said.
• With a win tonight against the visiting Nuggets, the Warriors will clinch a playoff berth for the second straight season, something they haven't done since 1990-91 and '91-92.
• TNT brass were undoubtedly hoping for a rekindling of the riveting Warriors-Nuggets playoff series from last year, but this Denver team bears almost no resemblance to the club Golden State upset in the first round. Of the eight players who saw at least 100 minutes of action for the Nuggets in that six-game set, only forward Kenneth Faried will suit up for Denver on Thursday. Corey Brewer (Minnesota), Andre Iguodala (Golden State), Kosta Koufos (Memphis) and Andre Miller (Washington) are all with new teams, and holdovers Wilson Chandler (left groin strain), Ty Lawson (left ankle sprain) and JaVale McGee (left tibia stress fracture) are out due to injury.
• On the plus side, Denver coach Brian Shaw said his team has not suffered any late scratches, so the same nine players who beat Houston 123-116 on Wednesday night will be ready to go. "I am happy with the fact that the players that we have that are available to play have been still playing hard," Shaw said. "It'd be so easy for them in this situation to just kind of let the rope go and look forward to their summer plans, just go out there and go through the motions. But they're still competing."
• For Golden State, forward David Lee remains out with nerve inflammation in his right leg, although coach Mark Jackson said the two-time All-Star is increasing his workload in individual sessions as he tries to work his way back.
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