Published May 02, 2016
(SportsNetwork.com) - With so much yet to be determined in the Western Conference playoff race on the final day of the season, two teams who know their spot will clash on Wednesday.
The Portland Trail Blazers, the Northwest Division champions and No. 4 seed, will visit American Airlines Center to face the Dallas Mavericks, the No. 7 seed when the playoffs begin Saturday.
The Blazers will be on the road this weekend, despite a top-four seeding. That is because their record will be worst than either team that finishes fifth or sixth. They got the high seed because of a league rule that automatically makes a division winner a top-four seed.
The Mavs await their opponent as well. Both Portland and Dallas could face the defending champion San Antonio Spurs, the Memphis Grizzlies, or the Houston Rockets. Dallas could meet the Los Angeles Clippers, who can be no worse than the third seed.
Dallas intends to play its starters on Wednesday.
"We've got to see what our health situation is," Mavs coach Rick Carlisle explained. "The plan right now, I believe, is to play everybody and get one more game heading into the break. We want to try to win 50, so that's where we are at this moment."
Dirk Nowitzki, Monta Ellis, Tyson Chandler and Chandler Parsons all sat in Monday's 109-92 road loss to the Utah Jazz. Amar'e Stoudemire and Charlie Villanueva took advantage of the rare starts with 15 points apiece, while J.J. Barea netted 18 off the bench.
Dallas' lone starter to play, Rajon Rondo, finished with 13 points and five assists.
Parsons has missed five consecutive games with a right knee injury, although he indicated he'd like to play Wednesday. Devin Harris hurt his toe in Utah and will be out.
The Blazers have lost three in a row, but have sat important players.
On Monday, they fell to the Oklahoma City Thunder, 101-90.
Portland entered the game without injured starters LaMarcus Aldridge (left foot sprain) and Arron Afflalo (right shoulder strain). Two more starters -- forward Nicolas Batum and guard C.J. McCollum -- went down in the first half of Monday's contest.
With 1:37 left in the opening quarter, Batum and Joel Freeland both went up for a rebound and Batum appeared to land awkwardly on his right leg as he came to the floor. X-Rays were negative.
McCollum slipped while trying to get free to receive an inbounds pass just before halftime. He exited with a left ankle sprain.
"I liked the way we competed," said Blazers coach Terry Stotts. "I was disappointed in the way we competed against Utah but with Nic going down, C.J. going down, we kept competing and it was a physical game. I thought we matched that better after the initial hit in the first quarter. Competing was what I wanted to see tonight."
Batum and McCollum are out for Wednesday's game, while Aldridge is listed as probable.
Portland won two of three matchups this season, but is 1-4 in its last five trips to Big D.