(Sports Network) - A pair of teams with playoff scenarios still yet to be
determined get together tonight, as the Atlanta Hawks take on the visiting
Dallas Mavericks at Philips Arena.
The Hawks are the fifth seed in the East and will face the Boston Celtics in
the opening round of the playoffs. Atlanta can capture homecourt advantage
with a win Thursday or a Boston loss versus Milwaukee.
Atlanta will wrap up a regular-season ending five-game homestand and is 3-1 on
the residency following Tuesday's 109-102 victory over the Los Angeles
Clippers. Joe Johnson scored 28 points, Jeff Teague had 21 and Josh Smith
added 18 and 10 rebounds for the Hawks, who improved to 22-10 at home and have
won eight of their last 11 games.
"I mean it's big. It's big," said Smith of having homecourt advantage. "It's
nothing we're really trying to break our necks over. I think we just really
want to go into the postseason as healthy as possible, just try to go out
there and make sure that everybody that plays major minutes are healthy.
"So we'll see how it goes. Hopefully we'll get this next win to solidify it."
The defending champion Mavericks barely made it to the playoffs this season
and can also improve its postseason status tonight.
Dallas is seated seventh in the West and can move up to the sixth spot with a
win tonight and a Denver loss at Minnesota. Oklahoma City and the Los Angeles
Lakers are the two teams both Dallas and Denver may face in the opening round
of the playoffs. The Mavs hold the tiebreaker over the Nuggets.
In Saturday's 93-83 loss to the East's top seed, the Chicago Bulls, Dirk
Nowitzki led the Mavericks with 17 points, while Rodrigue Beaubois and Vince
Carter chipped in 16 and 15 points, respectively, for the Mavs, who were
outscored by a 21-8 margin in the opening quarter and had won two straight and
five of seven games.
"The slow start didn't deter our enthusiasm. We kept coming, kept defending
and rebounding," Mavericks head coach Rick Carlisle said.
Dallas guards Jason Terry and Jason Kidd did not play due to rest and could be
back tonight in Atlanta. Dallas is 13-19 away from Big D this season and will
face Atlanta for the first time since sweeping a home-and-home set last year.
The Sports Network