As such, the team’s focus has turned towards entering the postseason fully healthy (or as close as you can be after an 82-game regular season). Joel Embiid has already been declared out for this entire road trip. In his absence Saturday, Jonah Bolden lit up the scoreboards with career-highs of 19 points on five 3s made, playing good defense on Karl-Anthony Towns to boot. Bolden can continue to make a case to enter the postseason rotation with another strong performance tonight in Dallas.
Another Sixers starter might take a seat tonight; Jimmy Butler is listed as day-to-day after tweaking his back early in Saturday’s win over Minnesota. Butler admitted to the media after that game that his back was hurting, so it makes all the sense in the world to have him join Embiid in Club DNP.
As for the Sixers’ opponent, the Mavericks also have their own injury issue. Star rookie Luka Doncic sat out yesterday’s win over Oklahoma City with a right thigh contusion, and with the Mavericks lottery-bound, there would be no reason to force the issue with him one night later.
In fact, Dallas is even more incentivized to lose down the stretch of the regular season than the normal team near the bottom of the standings. As a result of last year’s draft-night trade with Atlanta, Dallas owes the Hawks their first round pick, top-5 protected. The Mavericks would like to hold onto that pick this summer and have the commitment roll over to next year when they’ll presumably be much better.
Currently, Dallas has the league’s sixth-worst record, 2.5 games behind (technically, ahead of) the Hawks. Having to hand over the sixth overall pick would be just about the worst-case scenario for the Mavericks, so it would really behoove them to try and lose out and see if they could fall below Atlanta. The lottery could still shift things around in either direction, but it never hurts to have the odds be ever in your favor. (I’m sure the Mavericks’ front office was inwardly upset that Trey Burke came off the bench yesterday to score 25 points and help upset the Thunder.)
I should at least mention the huge Mavericks-related news that dropped over the weekend.
NBPA statement from executive director Michele Roberts on the Kristaps Porzingis rape allegations: “We have been aware of these allegations for some time, have evaluated the accuser’s claims and, based on what is presently before us, stand with Kristaps.”— Ian Begley (@IanBegley) April 1, 2019
Obviously, we don’t have anywhere close to all the information involved with the rape accusations against Kristaps Porzingis, so I’ll let the legal process sort through the situation before commenting further.
Back to more positive thoughts, although he hasn’t officially announced he is retiring after the season, tonight is likely the last time we see Dirk Nowitzki suit up against the Sixers. The future Hall-of-Famer is not only one of the greatest players of all-time, but was practically the first of his kind in terms of a shooting big man, and helped broaden the game’s appeal around the globe. Salute to you, Dirk!
Who: Philadelphia 76ers vs. Dallas Mavericks
When: 8:30 pm EST
Where: American Airlines Center, Dallas, TX
Watch: NBC Sports Philadelphia
Listen: 97.5 The Fanatic