Pride is all Dallas have to play for just two years after winning the NBA championship, but despite their absence from the forthcoming play-offs, the Mavericks are a rarity among the stragglers: they are pushing for victories right to the end of the campaign.
With a major rebuilding effort expected this summer, the current crop of Mavs will get their penultimate outing on Monday night when they host the Memphis Grizzlies. Dirk Nowitzki can expect an ovation after becoming only the 17th player in NBA history to score 25000 points or more in their Sunday win at New Orleans.
Dallas is just 8-8 this season on the second night of back-to-backs while Memphis, who lost to the Clippers on Saturday, are 32-14 with one day off. The Grizzlies are still fighting for homecourt advantage in the first round and they’re favoured by -3.5 points on the handicap. But don’t rule out the hosts, who are great value at 2.44 for the victory on current form.
There’s a lot at stake for the Utah Jazz, who must win at Minnesota to keep their play-off hopes alive. The Timberwolves lost 107-100 when these two met on Friday - their tenth loss in the last 12 meetings between these two. It figures to be another close call but, with the Jazz winning 50% of games decided by five points or less, and Minnesota just 36.8%, back Utah to take their race with the Lakers to the last.
The top two in the East can rest easy tonight with their play-off seedings cemented, so expect Miami and New York to rest up their starters on the road. That might suggest that upsets are on the cards. However, the Knicks have the third highest scoring bench in the NBA, and the sixth most efficient overall, so don’t expect them to allow the woeful Charlotte Bobcats a rare win. By contrast, Miami’s reserves are ranked a lowly 24th in scoring and in efficiency, so the Cleveland Cavaliers are worth a look on the handicap.
Best bet: Dallas to defeat Memphis at 2.44