Thu, 17 Jun 2021

Play-in berth sealed, Grizzlies hope to cool off Mavs

Field Level Media
11 May 2021, 17:40 GMT+10

The surging Dallas Mavericks aim to continue their torrid play on Tuesday when they vie for a season sweep of the host Memphis Grizzlies.

The Mavericks (40-28), currently in fifth place in the Western Conference, have won four in a row and 10 of their past 12 after completing a two-game sweep ofthe Cleveland Cavaliers on Friday and Sunday.

With four games remaining in the regular season, Dallas would wrap up a spot in the main draw of the West playoffs with any combination of two Mavericks wins or two Los Angeles Lakers defeats.

"Guys are aware of the standings, so I don't need to talk about it," Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle said. "Given the way this season has gone, I'm more concerned with, 'Where are we? What time is it? And where do you want to be in 10 minutes?'"

Mavericks forward Tim Hardaway Jr. has enjoyed a sizzling six-game stretch, during which he has averaged 27 points while shooting 52.5 percent from 3-point range. He scored 25 points to help Dallas overcome the ejection of Luka Doncic on Sunday in a 124-97 win over the Cavaliers.

Both players have tormented the Grizzlies (35-33) this season. Hardaway erupted for 29 points in Dallas' 102-92 victory on Feb. 22 before Doncic matched that total by sinking a lunging 3-pointer as time expired in the Mavericks' 114-113 win at Memphis on April 14.

Hardaway's playing time, however, could take a hit with the looming returns of Maxi Kleber and Kristaps Porzingis. Kleber (Achilles soreness) officially is listed as questionable for Tuesday's game after a four-game absence, while the Mavericks are hopeful Porzingis (knee) will end what would then be a seven-game absence to return for their Wednesday contest against the New Orleans Pelicans.

"I think it's really helped (being a starter), but I know at the same time, Coach is going to have to make a decision," Hardaway said. "I'm with whatever (it takes). I've been that way the whole season.

"I know guys are starting to come back now and probably will play a couple of these games down the stretch. ... I won't stop being aggressive, and I won't stop shooting the ball. Just going to try doing my best to keep that energy."

The ninth-place Grizzlies punched their ticket to the play-in tournament with a 115-110 victory over the Pelicans on Monday.

Dillon Brooks scored 23 points for Memphis, which has won three of its last four contests. The Grizzlies trailed the Pelicans by eight points in the third quarter, during which Memphis was outscored 29-15 and by five early in the fourth quarter before rallying.

"We definitely had our struggles tonight," Memphis coach Taylor Jenkins said. "Especially in that third quarter, I thought we had tons of great looks. (It) was a tough time to kind of go ice cold from the field and the free-throw line. They got on a run, and we weren't prepared for that."

Grizzlies center Jonas Valanciunas made 9 of 12 shots from the floor to finish with 20 points. He also had 11 rebounds and a season-high five blocks to become the first Grizzlies player in franchise history to record at least 20 points, 10 rebounds and a five blocks in a game while shooting at least 75 percent from the floor.

Valanciunas collected double-doubles in both meetings against Dallas this season. He had 11 points and 15 rebounds on Feb. 22 and 19 and 16, respectively, in the rematch.

--Field Level Media

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