The Dallas Mavericks, in the midst of the best season in franchise history, can clinch home-court advantage throughout the NBA playoffs with one more win. The Los Angeles Clippers, meanwhile, need every victory they can get as they battle for one of the final postseason spots in the Western Conference.
The Mavericks try to secure the home-court edge Monday when they face the Clippers, who are trying to win five straight road games for the first time in franchise history, in a possible preview of a first-round playoff series.
The Mavericks (63-13) have set a club record for victories and had a 17-game winning streak from Jan. 27-March 11. After losing to Miami in the NBA finals last season, Dallas is trying to return to the championship round and claim the franchise’s first title.
Los Angeles (37-38) is 25 1/2 games behind the Mavericks, but that’s good enough for eighth place in the West.
The Clippers, trying to make consecutive trips to the postseason for the first time since 1992-93, are two games behind the seventh-place Lakers and one game ahead of Golden State.
Los Angeles fell to the Nuggets 96-93 on Saturday after squandering a 15-point second-quarter lead. The loss was just the Clippers’ second in nine games as they failed to go over the .500 mark for the first time since Feb. 5.
“It is a setback,” said forward Elton Brand, who had 22 points and 13 rebounds. “It’s definitely disappointing, especially when you had a game like this, leading the majority of the game. Now we have to go on the road and do what we have to do.”
After playing poorly on the road for much of the season, the Clippers are starting to find their rhythm away from Staples Center.
Los Angeles started 9-24 away from home, but is outscoring opponents by 8.0 points per game during its road winning streak. The Clippers, though, have lost 14 of their last 17 at Dallas, including a 115-83 defeat Dec. 22.
Brand scored 18 points and matched a season low with three rebounds in that loss, and had 13 points and 12 boards in Los Angeles’ 103-85 win over Dallas on Nov. 8. He’s averaging 20.2 points and 9.3 rebounds this season.
The Mavericks bounced back from Friday’s 75-71 loss to Denver with a 86-74 victory over Portland on Saturday. Jason Terry had 29 points on 12-of-19 shooting against the Trail Blazers after scoring 13 points on 6-of-20 from the floor the night before.
“When you’re a shooter and you have a night like last night, you’re anxious to get back out there and play right away,” said Terry, averaging 19.0 points in two games against the Clippers this season.
“Hopefully he’ll be ready to go by the next game or the next game or the next game, but most of all by the playoffs,” Johnson said.
Dirk Nowitzki played only 26 minutes and scored 11 points Saturday. He’s averaging 18.0 points - 6.7 below his season average - on 37.3 percent shooting (19-for-51) in his last three games.