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Submitted by Jim Hurley on Saturday, April 12, 2014 at 7:00 AM

The race for the #7 and #8 spots in the Western Conference of the NBA is going right down to the wire. Only two teams out of Phoenix, Dallas, and Memphis will be playing in the postseason. One will be the heartbroken warrior who battled for weeks only to fall short.


Magnifying the drama:

Phoenix visits Dallas Saturday Night

Phoenix hosts Memphis Monday Night

Dallas visits Memphis Wednesday Night

All control their own destiny because winning out gets them into the playoffs. But, Dallas arguably has the easiest path because those are the only two games they have left! The Mavericks can really focus on taking care of business. And, they won’t be dealing with a back-to-back either time. In fact, they’ll have Sunday-Monday-Tuesday off between hosting Phoenix and visiting Memphis.


Here’s what’s on tap for the others:

Phoenix: at Dallas Saturday, vs. Memphis Monday, at Sacramento Wednesday

Memphis: at LA Lakers Sunday, at Phoenix Monday, vs. Dallas Wednesday

Both of those teams must win road games vs. non-contenders outside the fatal three-way, while also dealing with the fatigue that comes from playing so many high pressure games in such a short time frame.

You can see why Dallas didn’t put up much of a fight in the closing minutes vs. San Antonio in the TV game Thursday. If they win these last two, they’re in. And, beating Phoenix Saturday is so huge that all of this week’s resources had to be aimed at that game. Worry about Memphis in a few days.

Let’s run the numbers for Suns/Mavs from our favorite NBA indicator stats.


Offensive Efficiency

Phoenix: 107.3 per 100 possessions (ranked #8 in the NBA)

Dallas: 109.0 per 100 possessions (ranked #3 in the NBA)

Both of these teams are known for their offense. Dallas has one of the best in the NBA thanks to talent, game-planning, and a strategy that lets stars Dirk Nowitzki and Monta Ellis slack off on defense to keep them fresh for scoring. Phoenix was supposed to be a doormat this year. Instead, they’re in the thick of the playoff chase thanks to a top 10 offense that has been giving opponents headaches all season.


Defensive Efficiency

Phoenix: 103.8 per 100 possessions (ranked #14 in the NBA)

Dallas: 105.9 per 100 possessions (ranked #22 in the NBA)

Though Phoenix is more known for its offense, you’d have to say that playing league average defense is what has them in the chase. They’re a lot better than they were supposed to be on this side of the ball, even if that only grades out as league average. Dallas is a big disappointment, and can’t be taken seriously as a playoff threat with a bottom ten defense inside a conference that’s loaded with scoring stars. You saw how outmatched their defense was Thursday vs. San Antonio even though Tony Parker wasn’t even playing for the Spurs.


Pace Ranking

Phoenix: #8

Dallas: #16

Phoenix is no longer an out-of-control run-and-gun team…but they’re still fast. Dallas isn’t as fast as you were thinking. They play high scoring games at a league average pace because of great offense and lousy defense…not because of tempo. Note that tonight’s meeting will represent a back-to-back spot for Phoenix after visiting San Antonio Friday. That could cause them to slow down here (or get tired on defense), which plays right into the Dallas comfort zone offensively.


Against the Spread

Phoenix: 50-27-1

Dallas: 43-37

Amazing season for the Suns…and an amazingly bad job of pricing them from the markets. At press time, Phoenix is the only team with 50 pointspread covers. Charlotte is the only other team even positioned this week to make a run at that many. Dallas is a couple of games over break even once you account for the vigorish. Phoenix is 20 games over break even!

JIM HURLEY will be working very closely with his NBA sources on this game and all over this eight-game Saturday schedule. This one could be in the big play mix if Phoenix fatigue looks like it’s going to matter. You can purchase the final word for Saturday right here at the website with your credit card. Be sure to take care of business early if you’re also looking for baseball action.

If you have any questions, call our handicapping office weekdays during normal business hours at 1-888-777-4155. This is a great weekend to check on rates that take you through the NBA Playoffs or baseball through the All-Star Break. You get more bang for your buck with long term packages!

We’ll take a break from basketball Sunday for our regularly weekly preview of Sunday Night Baseball. That will be the New York Yankees at the Boston Red Sox this week. Basketball resumes Monday with this schedule:


Monday: Memphis at Phoenix (or possibly San Antonio/Houston or Miami/Washington)

Tuesday: New York at Brooklyn if it matters (otherwise baseball)

Wednesday: Dallas at Memphis (or another big game with playoff implications)


That will be the end of the regular season in the NBA. Playoff previews will start in short order. There are going to be some fantastic first round matchups…even if we don’t know for sure yet who will be playing who!

The best in the BASKETS…the best in the BASES…from the best handicapper, JIM HURLEY!

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