San Francisco Chronicle
Mavs game carries weight
DALLAS — Tuesday afternoon inside SMU's Crum Basketball Center, Steve Kerr admitted he would rather not be associated with the crowded madness that is the Western Conference playoff race. He'd obviously prefer his team to be further ahead of the pack, in front like Denver, Memphis and Sacramento are.
However, his Golden State Warriors (37-36) are in sixth in the wild West with nine games left in the regular season, just a halfgame ahead of the Dallas Mavericks (36-36) — an important place to be before the two teams meet Wednesday night in Dallas. The season series between the two teams is tied 1-1; a tiebreaker will be on the line in their final regular-season meeting.
Entering Tuesday's matchups, the 10th-place Jazz and the sixth-place Warriors are separated by just one game in a Western Conference field with at least 12 teams vying for a spot. Teams ranked seven through 10 in each conference are relegated to the NBA's play-in round, in which anything can happen, as Golden State learned the hard way against Memphis in 2021.
Kerr is still a competitor at heart, and sees the fun in certain aspects of the West's parity.
“We have nine games left and every one of them is crucial,” the Warriors' head coach said. “And I think for the teams that end up surviving this, it might be an advantage going into the playoffs. It's almost like we've already started the playoffs, so it's a fight to the end. Everybody's trying to get in, trying to avoid the play-in, or get into the play-in if possible. So everything is a possibility. … Never seen anything like this.”
“It's inspiring and depressing at the same time,” guard Stephen Curry said. “Just because you still feel like you're in it, which we are, and we still feel like we can peak at the right time, which there's a lot of confidence in.”
The Warriors snapped their 11-game losing streak away from Chase Center on Monday night in Houston against arguably the worst team in the league. Wednesday's game in Dallas will be a different type of test, and a chance for Golden State to prove capable of separating from the pack — and staying there.
The Warriors haven't faced Dallas since Feb. 4, two days before Kyrie Irving's trade to the Mavericks from Brooklyn was finalized. The Mavericks have gone 7-10 since the deal, but they've also been without Luka Doncic in their past five games.
Whether Doncic, Irving or both can play Wednesday has yet to be determined. Doncic (left thigh strain) and Irving (right foot soreness) are both probable. Golden State's Draymond Green (right wrist soreness) and Kevon Looney (lower back soreness) are also listed as probable.
Either way, Curry is well aware of the stakes.
“We've seen them, we haven't seen them with Kyrie,” Curry said. “But I know they play a very similar style that they did before the trade. They have two dynamic guards who can play-make and all that.”
If the Mavericks take the floor with both Irving and Doncic, the tactical challenge becomes more complicated.
“They slow it down, but they also spread the floor and put the ball in those two guys' hands and try to create and have spacing around,” Curry said. “So we understand the defensive approach we need to have. And if we can get stops, we can usually run in transition. … It's a battle of different paces. We'll see how it plays out.” Iguodala, Wiggins updates: The Warriors announced Tuesday that forward Andre Iguodala underwent successful surgery to stabilize his left wrist fracture, suffered March 13 against Phoenix.
The 39-year-old will be re-evaluated in four weeks, meaning there's an outside chance he could return in time for the first round of the playoffs, should Golden State get there. The NBA postseason is set to begin April 15.
Andrew Wiggins will miss his 17th straight game as he continues to deal with what has been described as an ongoing “family matter.”