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Ten Before Tip: NBA news from Saturday

POSTED: Apr 12, 2014 6:33 PM ET
UPDATED: 2014-04-13

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• Two of the three teams battling it out for the Western Conference's final two playoff spots square off tonight, as the Suns make their only trip to Dallas to play the Mavericks. The Mavs (48-32), currently in the seventh spot, can punch their ticket to the postseason with a win. The Suns (47-32) are on the outside looking in at the moment. Tied with Memphis for the eighth spot, but in ninth due to tiebreakers, Phoenix is essentially in must-win mode with a pivotal matchup with the Grizzlies looming on Monday.

• The Suns' Goran Dragic (sprained right ankle) will be a game-time decision. "He went out there to look at it. It's pretty bad. He said it felt better today," coach Jeff Hornacek said. "I don't know what better means, but he's going to go out there and warm up. The trainer said he's going to give him more treatment, re-tape it, and Goran's a tough kid — he'll play through just about anything. I'm sure he'll try it." The leading scorer the last time these two teams squared off, Dragic is averaging 20.5 points and 5.9 assists per game this season.

• If Dragic does not suit up, Eric Bledsoe will move over to point guard and Gerald Green will move into the starting lineup. Coming off a near triple-double with 30 points, 11 rebounds and nine assists against San Antonio, Bledsoe's combination of speed and strength could give the Mavericks' guards fits. "He's another young guy who's exploding," Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle said. "His strength, his scoring, his defense, facilitating — it's tough. I haven't seen a point guard that strong at that size in a long time who can do all the things he does."

• With a shot at securing its spot in the postseason, Carlisle said that Dirk Nowitzki, Shawn Marion and Vince Carter could all see extended playing time if the situation calls for it. With its final game coming on Wednesday in Memphis, which has won 13 straight at home, Dallas will pull out all the stops to clinch tonight.

• Dwyane Wade returns to the Miami lineup tonight after missing nine games with a strained left hamstring, as the Heat visit the Hawks for a game important both teams with regard to playoff position. The Heat (54-25) are one-half game ahead of the Pacers (54-26) in the race for the No. 1 seed in the East. The Hawks (36-43) can clinch the eighth and final playoff spot in the East with a win to eliminate the Knicks (34-45). Miami coach Erik Spoelstra says he's not sure if Wade will play in the Heat's final two games, Monday at Washington or Wednesday vs. the 76ers. Wade was inactive in Miami's first three games this season against Atlanta.

• The Hawks wore black stripes on their sleeves to honor Lou Hudson, who passed away Friday after suffering a stroke. Hudson, a 6-foot-5 guard/forward, was the fourth overall pick of the 1966 NBA draft. The St. Louis Hawks picked the former Minnesota star, and he paid huge dividends while playing the first 11 years of his 13-year career with the franchise. For the Hawks, he averaged 20.2 points, 4.4 rebounds and 2.7 assists before being traded to the Lakers for the final two years of his career.

• A pair of the Rockets starters will return to the lineup for tonight's game against the visiting Pelicans, as Patrick Beverley (knee) and Dwight Howard (ankle) are both ready to play after missing the last eight games. But it's not all good news for Houston on the injury front. Chandler Parsons will sit out with a sore wrist and hip, and Francisco Garcia will be unavailable due to a sore back. Fifth-year forward Omri Casspi will start in Parsons' absence.

• The Rockets' health concerns pale in comparison to the depleted Pelicans, who added another name to their lengthy injury list during Friday's loss at Oklahoma City. Brian Roberts (ankle) will miss tonight's contest, while Anthony Davis (back), Jrue Holiday (leg), Eric Gordon (knee), Ryan Anderson (back) and Jason Smith (knee) will be sidelined for the remainder of the season. With so many holes in New Orleans' roster, coach Monty Williams is left with only 10 bodies to choose from and just one healthy player with at least five years of NBA experience.

• Despite being out for the season while recovering from knee surgery, Nuggets forward Danilo Gallinari was in uniform tonight night against the visiting Jazz. "It was something he asked if he could do," Denver coach Brian Shaw said. "When you're injured, you're on the team but you don't really feel like part of the team. I don't see it being a problem."

• Nuggets forward Wilson Chandler (left groin strain) also was in uniform after missing 10 straight games; Shaw said he would be available to play against Utah. Point guard Ty Lawson (left ankle sprain) missed his fourth game in a row, but Shaw hopes he can return for one of Denver's final two games.

• Nene will not play for the Wizards tonight against the visiting Bucks in the back-to-back scenario. The Brazilian big man led Washington with 17 points against the Magic on Friday, his second game since returning after missing the previous 21 with a knee injury.

• The Wizards have taken two of three from the Bucks this season. However, the one loss came at home, 109-105 in overtime on Dec. 6 as Khris Middleton scored a career-high 29 points. Washington took the recent matchup, 114-107 at Milwaukee on Mar. 8.

• Kemba Walker will not play for the Bobcats tonight against the visiting 76ers. Walker strained his groin Wednesday in a 94-88 overtime win against the Wizards. This will be Walker's second missed game in a row but coach Steve Clifford said that he hopes the starting point guard will be back on Monday.

• With Walker out tonight, veteran Luke Ridnour will get his second straight start with Jannero Pargo getting the backup point guard minutes off the bench. Ridnour is averaging only 3.4 points per game and 1.9 assists per game since joining the Bobcats.

• With Charlotte's 106-103 loss last night in Boston, the Bobcats have now dropped to the seventh seed in the Eastern Conference playoff standings. Charlotte now trails Washington by one game in the standings with three games left.

• The 76ers come into the game losing five out of their last six with an overall record of 17-62. That is the second-worst record in the NBA; Philadelphia is only two games ahead of Milwaukee for the worst mark.

• Celtics center Jared Sullinger (left ankle sprain), point guard Jerryd Bayless (right knee hyperextention), and point guard Rajon Rondo (left shin strain) have all been ruled out for tonight's game against the host Cavaliers, while power forward Kris Humphries (right knee soreness) will be a game-time decision. If Humphries is unable to play, Boston will only have eight players in uniform.

• Sullinger and Bayless were injured Friday in Boston's 106-103 win over Charlotte, while Rondo is sitting out his second straight contest. Bayless underwent an MRI that revealed no structural damage, but did show a bone bruise, and will be re-examined Sunday when the Celtics return home.

• Cavaliers small forward Luol Deng (lower back soreness) is out for the second straight game and also could sit out their season finale Wednesday against Brooklyn. Also sidelined for Cleveland are shooting guard C.J. Miles (left ankle sprain), rookie power forward Anthony Bennett (left patellar tendon strain), and rookie shooting guard Carrick Felix (left patellar stress fracture).

• Jamal Crawford will play this afternoon for the Clippers against the Kings at Staples Center. He was listed as a game-time decision with a strained calf after taking part in Friday's practice. The ailment apparently improved, obviously an encouraging sign considering that Crawford missed the past five games. Keep in mind, the lingering injury kept him on the sidelines last month for eight of nine games.

• After missing the past two games with a back problem, Rudy Gay has been cleared to play and will likely be in the starting lineup today for the Kings. Signs point to him receiving a clean bill of health following practice Friday. Sacramento welcomes Gay back to the rotation given the fact he's averaging 20 points, six rebounds and slightly less than three assists per game this season.

• Isaiah Thomas will not play today for the Kings and miss his 10th consecutive game due to a quad issue. Making matters worse, he's doubtful for Sunday's game with the Timberwolves. Sacramento could shut him down for the year. All is not lost, however. Coach Mike Malone seems to be somewhat optimistic that Thomas might be back in uniform for Wednesday's finale against Phoenix.

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