The reigning NBA champion Dallas Mavericks clinched another playoff berth without ever having to take the floor on Thursday. New Orleans' overtime upset of the Houston Rockets did the trick for the Mavs, who have reached the postseason 12 consecutive times.
Dallas coach Rick Carlisle now has the ability to manage the playing time of his veterans in the final three games of the regular season starting tonight when the Mavericks host Golden State in their final home came of the truncated 2011-12 campaign.
Dallas, currently the sixth seed in the West, will play at Chicago on Saturday and then get a four-day break before its April 26 season finale at Atlanta.
The Mavericks also downed the slumping Rockets in their last encounter, a 117-110 in Dallas on Wednesday. Dirk Nowitzki scored 31 of his 35 points in the second half of that one to lead Dallas.
Vince Carter and Jason Terry provided sparks off the bench, netting 23 and 19 points, respectively, for the Mavericks, who picked up a much-needed victory after back-to-back overtime losses.
"We really needed the win and our guys weren't going to let it go," Carlisle told the Mavs' official website.
Nowitzki is heating up at the right time, averaging 30.0 points over his last five games, a stretch that started last Thursday in a 112-103 win against Golden State.
"The second half I was able to get some good looks, guys kept looking for me after cuts to the basket, had some good three's that went in. I Just got involved in the game a little more," Nowitzki said of his dominant play against the Rockets after intermission.
The banged-up Warriors, meanwhile, have lost six straight, including Wednesday's 99-87 setback to the Lakers in Oakland. Impressive rookie Klay Thompson scored 17 points to pace Golden State in that one while Jeremy Tyler finished with 15 points and six rebounds.
"It's a valuable experience for him to go against different ways people are going to defend him," Golden State head coach Mark Jackson said of Thompson. "It's a great experience, being doubled, being grabbed, being beaten up. Because the great ones, it's a compliment."
With guard Stephen Curry (sprained right ankle) and center Andrew Bogut (broken left ankle) already shut down for the season long ago the Warriors did the same with star forward David Lee, who is struggling with groin and hip problems, after the game against the Mavs last week.
Dallas snapped a modest two-game skid to the Warriors with the triumph on April 12. Meanwhile, Golden State, which has dropped 13 of 15 overall. is a dismal 0-8 in games plated on Friday this season and has lost in 19 of its last 24 trips to North Texas.