DALLAS (AP) — Dirk Nowitzki joked after a loss to San Antonio that the Mavericks don't "want to see anyone" in the playoffs, given their recent record against winning teams.
Dallas hasn't beaten any of its likely first-round opponents in more than two months — and that's assuming the Mavericks get in after a 12-year streak of reaching the playoffs ended last season.
At the moment, Dallas is one of four teams in a tight battle for the final three playoff spots in the Western Conference.
And yes, Nowitzki says, the Mavericks need to beat Portland on Friday. Or Oklahoma City when they play twice in a span of nine days. Or the Los Angeles Clippers in a pair of games a week apart.
"Not necessarily just for confidence but also because we want to stay in the playoff hunt," Nowitzki said. "If we keep losing against the good teams, most of our games left are against teams with winning records. We've got to keep winning at a high clip if we want to make it and so the pressure's on. You gotta love it."
A 112-106 loss to the Spurs on Sunday dropped Dallas to 0-6 against the top five teams in the West since a victory against Houston on Dec. 23.
Since then, the Mavericks have blown big leads at home against the Rockets and Clippers. They've fallen 38 points behind the Trail Blazers, also at home. They haven't been able to get a substantial lead against the Spurs.
All of which means nothing to coach Rick Carlisle because all he sees is Wednesday night's game at Denver, which has been in free fall because of injuries but finally has point guard Ty Lawson back.
"The analysis of which teams are better ones and all that, I mean, we're going to see them when we see them," Carlisle said. "Right now, we've got to focus on Denver."
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