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Field Level Media - Professional sports content solutions | FLM

Apr 6, 2024 1:13 pm

Mavericks out to continue climb up standings vs. fading Rockets

Kyrie Irving

The surging Dallas Mavericks continue their push for home-court advantage in the first round of the playoffs on Sunday when they host their in-state counterparts, the fading Houston Rockets.

Dallas (47-30) rolls in having won nine of its past 10 games and 13 of 15 after a 108-106 victory over the Golden State Warriors on Friday.

With MVP-contending Luka Doncic sidelined due to right knee soreness, P.J. Washington scored 32 points against the Warriors — his individual high since joining the Mavericks in February. Kyrie Irving went for 26 points, eight rebounds and seven assists.

Irving has played in 28 consecutive games, his longest uninterrupted stretch since the 2015-16 season when he was part of the champion Cleveland Cavaliers. Dallas is 21-7 in those games.

“Getting healthy and being able to put a lot of games together and showcasing what I’ve always known to be true, that I impact winning in a positive manner,” Irving said of his steady run as he has contributed 25.4 points and 5.2 assist per game. “When I’m out there on the floor, I give our team a better chance of winning.

“Not saying I can do everything. I just feel like I can go out there and contribute on the offensive end, and defensively, just be in the right spots as much as I can be.”

Friday’s win avenged the Mavericks’ 104-100 road loss to the Warriors on Tuesday, which snapped their seven-game winning streak. The surge helped move Dallas into fifth place in the Western Conference, where it sits two games behind the Los Angeles Clippers for the No. 4 seed and home-court advantage in the first round of the playoffs.

A Dallas victory over Golden State, which is in 10th place and the last play-in spot for the West, would have been a boost for 11th-place Houston. However, the Rockets fell at home on Friday to the Miami Heat 119-104, dealing another blow to their dwindling hope of reaching the play-in.

Houston (38-39) limps into Dallas on a four-game losing skid since its 11-game winning streak came to an end. The win streak sent the Rockets soaring into the play-in picture, but their skid has them four games behind the Warriors with only five remaining in the regular season.

“Just finishing on the right step, on the right foot and playing the right way,” Rockets coach Ime Udoka said Friday of the team’s fading play-in tournament pursuit. “Not reverting back to what didn’t bring you success at times throughout the season, or even in past years. Continue to build on what you did this year and finish on a good note.”

Houston’s 38 wins currently mark a 16-win improvement from a season ago, and 18-win improvement from 2021-22.

The 2023-24 campaign saw significant strides from third-year center Alperen Sengun, who averaged 21.1 points and 9.3 rebounds per game before a season-ending ankle injury. Third-year wing Jalen Green came on strong late, with 11 games of 30-plus points since Jan. 26.

And while the play-in may be out of reach, Houston can even the season series against Dallas.

Houston’s losing trend began on March 31 in its last meeting with the Mavericks. Doncic scored 47 points, contributing to his NBA-leading 33.8-point per game average.

Dallas won on Nov. 28 in Houston, 121-115, while the Rockets took a 122-96 decision on Dec. 22. Doncic missed the loss after scoring 41 in the first meeting.

–Field Level Media

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