The Dallas Mavericks weren’t in the mood to celebrate the end of the franchise’s three-year playoff drought.
The Mavs officially clinched a playoff berth due to the Memphis Grizzlies’ 108-106 loss to the San Antonio Spurs on Sunday afternoon. Hours later, Dallas dropped to 0-2 in the NBA bubble with a 117-115 loss to the Phoenix Suns in Lake Buena Vista, Florida.
“Our goal was to make the playoffs, and we achieved that, but for me and for us, we’re going to try to win every game now that we have left in the regular season,” said Mavs center Kristaps Porzingis, who scored 30 points in the loss. “Then, we’ll see where we end up in the playoffs and go from there. This is not a sprint. This is a marathon, and with each day, with each game, with each practice, we want to be a better team and better individually.”
The Grizzlies’ loss guaranteed that the Mavs would finish no lower than seventh in the Western Conference standings.
“To be in and be assured of the seventh position is good, but we came here to move up,” Mavs coach Rick Carlisle said in his pregame virtual call with the media.
Retired Mavs great Dirk Nowitzki was more upbeat about the news on Twitter.
Mavs are back in the playoffs!!! Can’t wait. Let’s go!!!
— Dirk Nowitzki (@swish41) August 3, 2020
The Mavs’ loss Sunday significantly decreased Dallas’ odds of moving up in the standings, making a first-round meeting with the LA Clippers the likely scenario. The Mavs are three games behind the sixth-place Oklahoma City Thunder with six games left in the seeding schedule.
“That was the objective, to get to the playoffs this year,” said Mavs point guard Luka Doncic, who had 40 points, eight rebounds and 11 assists in the loss. “It doesn’t matter who you play. If you want to win, you’ve got to beat everybody. We’ve just got to learn from these mistakes.”
The Mavs dropped to 2-10 this season in games decided by three points or fewer. Dallas has the most losses in the league in those scenarios and is tied with the Atlanta Hawks for the worst winning percentage in those games.
But Carlisle pointed to the third quarter as the decisive part of the loss to the Suns. Phoenix erased a 13-point halftime deficit by outscoring the Mavs by a 36-19 margin in the third quarter and managed to close out the Mavs despite Suns star guard Devin Booker (30 points) fouling out.
“It’s another tough loss for us, but I believe that this is part of the process,” Porzingis said. “We’re going to get through this and get better.”