The Dallas Mavericks won a game they desperately had to lose.
The Mavs need real players more than they need to play a pointless play-in game.
Whatever 0.000005 percent chance the Mavs have of actually making it to No. 10 to reach the NBA’s NIT Tournament, the Mavs need to just embrace quiet quitting.
Instead, the Mavericks rallied to defeat the playoff-bound Sacramento Kings on Wednesday night at the American Airlines Center, which keeps their chances of reaching the NBA’s Play-In Tournament alive.
Do you want an NBA Play-In Tournament game, or an NBA lottery pick? This is not complicated.
Take the pick, not a fake playoff game.
Entering Wednesday’s game, the Mavs had lost seven of their previous eight games, including three straight. They should have ended the season on a six-game losing streak.
Instead, Kyrie Irving went off in the second half and scored 31 points in the Mavs’ 123-119 win over the Kings. Irving scored 19 in the fourth quarter, and showed off an array of video-game moves that make him one of the most entertaining scorers in the game.
It was a double shot of codeine fun. Also, it does not help the bigger picture. This season is gone, and a Play-In game is a box of Cracker Jacks without a prize.
The Mavericks reaching the Play-In Tournament comes down to this: The Mavs need to win one more game than the Oklahoma City Thunder and they will finish 10th in the Western Conference.
From the Western Conference Finals to … tenth?
The Mavs play at home on Friday against the Chicago Bulls, and on Sunday against the San Antonio Spurs. The Bulls are 38-42, and the Spurs are … horrendous (20-59).
The Thunder play at Utah on Thursday night, and host Memphis on Sunday.
All of this for tenth place. Tenth place out of 15 teams is the NBA’s Venti Saliva.
“For the last two weeks we’ve been in this situation. The ball hasn’t bounced our way,” Mavs coach Jason Kidd said after the game. “They’ve been together. They believe they can get in. We need a little help. We couldn’t lose this. We have to wait and watch.”
The Mavs players aren’t sitting. The Mavs didn’t “shut” players down.
The players don’t want the humiliation of missing a postseason, even if it’s the NBA’s version of the NIT, even if it would mean a lottery pick this spring.
If the Mavs miss this postseason, they would keep what right now would be the 10th pick in the 2023 NBA Draft. If they make the fake playoffs, that pick goes to the New York Knicks, which is the last piece of the trade to acquire Kristaps Porzingis.
(Whatever happened to him, anyways? KP played in 65 games and averaged 23.2 points and 8.4 rebounds for a Wizards team that is the third-worst in the Eastern Conference).
The Mavs blew their chance to “be a problem” in the West about a month ago. Actually … the origins of their problems were planted last summer, when the seeds to a mediocre team were put in the flower pot.
With a decent playoff seeding still available, the Mavericks have lost seven out of their last nine games. Since they acquired Irving, the Mavs are 9-16.
They have two elite players, and the rest hasn’t worked out.
A Play-In game or two is not going to change what this team already knows. They need more talent.
Talent that you are more apt to find in the lottery.