Word came down on Thursday night: The Dallas Mavericks have earned the right to defend that big shiny thing. Golden State meanwhile is trying to maximize their chances in the next draft. It's a very nice scenario when one is trying to snatch a bit of a break before things get interesting. It wasn't quite the blowout everyone expected -- the distance shooting was unbelievable in both respects -- but it was a solid workout for the good guys and the bad guys get another precious loss. Everybody's happy and the Mavs go on to wrap up things in the East with a visit to Chicago tonight and a Thursday outing at Atlanta. For now, final 104-94.
About a certain lack of deference for the defending NBA champions ...
"We haven't gotten much respect all year long, so it doesn't surprise me. I think a lot of teams are hoping and wishing that they can play the Mavericks in the playoffs, similar to last year. And they're going to get what they ask for soon.'' - Jason Terry
... though not everyone is taking us for granted ...
"I think we competed throughout the game against the defending champs. Guys really came in here and played really hard, but the Mavs are a veteran team and they took over in the fourth quarter. You've got to expect that from them." -Dorell Wright
Getting the most out of the situation without outsmarting ourselves -- on trying to finish one seed or the other to draw a particular matchup ...
"You're basically asking the question: are we going to tank games potentially to try and get a certain opponent or avoid a certain opponent ... The whole thing about wishing for this team or not wishing for that team, that's dicey. Last year, it would have been hard to come up with a harder first-round matchup at the three position than Portland. And it turned out to be one of the best things for us." -Coach Rick Carlisle
"You've got to play someone, so we'll take whoever it is. I think the highest seed we can get is sixth and the lowest seed we can get is eighth. So for us it's just a matter of finishing off the season the right way and whoever we play at the three or whatever seed we have, that's what we've got to do." - Jason Kidd
Oh wow, Vince Carter and his saving of the day ...
"He's one of our most versatile players, and the fact that he attacks the rim is important for us because we don't have a lot of guys that get in the paint that well. The timing is great. This is the time of the year that you want guys to be peaking, and it seems like that's what he's doing right now." -Brendan Haywood
"We saw something that we were able to get to, and they couldn't match up and guard it and we just kept going back and forth to it. I love seeing that, and we're doing that more and more." -Shawn Marion
"Vince was real aggressive. We were looking to get him involved. He made good decisions, made shots, made a couple good passes. It gives us another attacker out there at the small forward position, so that's a plus." -Coach Rick Carlisle
"When it's my turn, I'm going to come in aggressive and ready to play. I just want to help these guys, Dirk and Jet, really take pressure off them so they don't have to take double-teams all the time ... Just having the opportunity with the ball in my hands to make plays, it was just like old times. Just for me, I feel comfortable in that position and Coach Carlisle has been giving me the opportunity to be aggressive. I just have to make the right play out there." -Vince Carter
Regarding Delonte West, and his 16 points ...
"I really liked the way West played tonight. Defensively he was a big factor, made key plays, key baskets. They made runs at us and he was involved in a lot of the plays that kind of stemmed the tide." -Coach Rick Carlisle
Our Three Centers ...
"They're a three-headed monster. All of were big for us. Haywood always sets the tone physically, being big in there and long. I thought Brandan Wright was great for us all year long with his rolls, with his touch around the basket, blocking shots and getting rebounds. And Ian was kind of like in-between. He can be physical, but he's got a finesse game to him and can finish around the paint and get some rebounds. We knew coming in that Golden State was going to play small some, and I thought coming in our bigs were going to be big and that's what they did." - Dirk Nowitzki
"They had good energy, both [Mahimni and Wright]. I thought Haywood played well, too. It's a good example of a game where we need all three centers. They all fill a specific role -- three different kind of body types, three different kind of games -- and we needed all three guys tonight." -Coach Rick Carlisle
Gee, we kind of love you too ...
"I really enjoyed the season here. I love the crowd. The crowd was on my side the whole year. They cheered us and they stood behind us every game. We really appreciate their support." -Brandan Wright
Some time off for our more seasoned veterans? Jason Kidd is a definite scratch for tonight in ChiTown ...
"Pre-planned rest situation. And then next week, Thursday's season finale in Atlanta, we'll see where we are." -Coach Rick Carlisle
"I always like playing. You don't have to go crazy, like 40 minutes, but 20, 25 minutes, get a rhythm, get some shots up, get a sweat. I definitely like that ... I'll probably take one day completely off. I'll probably spend the other three in the gym working the jump shot and getting ready for the playoffs." -Dirk Nowitzki
Hey, a new guy -- regarding Kelenna Azubuike's first floor time as a Maverick ...
"I liked him. I wanted to get him in there early. He did the things that we felt he could do. He spaced the floor. He had two threes that were in-and-out. He was solid defensively. He needs to get back on the floor and play some." -Coach Rick Carlisle
"It was good to get out there and get my feet wet. I'm rusty as I-don't-know-what. It'll come back. I'm just thankful to the Lord that I even got back to this point. There was a point in time where I wasn't even sure I was going to play again." -Kelenna Azubuike
There're only two games left -- why bother with a New Guy this late in the proceedings?
"It's like Corey Brewer last year. If he can help us somewhere along the line, one play, or a few good minutes in a game at the right time, it's all worth it." -Coach Rick Carlisle
About life within the Be Ready framework ...
"When I get my opportunities I just try to make the best of it. With the centers, it's kind of tough, because we really don't know if we're going to play a lot of minutes or a little bit ... I wouldn't lie to you guys. It's definitely tough to kind of not know. But at the same time, us guys we've handled it pretty well this year. It's easy when we support each other." -Brandan Wright
"Like I told them from the beginning, I really don't care what my role is, where he puts me on the floor, how he puts me in the game. Just know when it's my turn, I'm going to come in and be ready to play. I've been that way, and I've just tried to step my aggression up just a little more." -Vince Carter
A little unfinished business in the East ...
"Tomorrow night, Chicago's playing for a clinch and that's probably the most physical team in basketball ... It's going to be a playoff-caliber game in terms of its physicality. That's a guarantee, because when you lace them up against those guys, that's the kind of game it's going to be. It'll be good, it'll be good for us." -Coach Rick Carlisle
"They're tough. Their big guys really crash the paint and they play together. I really like how they compete. It's going to be challenge, and they're going to keep coming for 48 minutes ... I think they're just very active. Those guys really work hard to get the ball. But I think we'll be fine, though." -Dirk Nowitzki
Let's wrap this up right -- the season-finishing gameplan and philosophy ...
"The approach is to play well and win. It seems to me when you do that, it's karmically the right thing to do. We're not going to play guys crazy minutes. We're going to do things that are in the right spirit of the process we feel is right for us to get ready to play ... We want to be playing good basketball headed into the playoffs. We're working toward that, that's the biggest thing. We'll watch some minutes, but the emphasis is going to be on hard play, continuing to trend the right way coming off a win against Houston. Again, we just want to be very fixated on our process of being a good team, and being a team that can be successful in the playoffs." -Coach Rick Carlisle
"I didn't want to not be ready for this moment -- and that's the playoffs. Just make sure I'm in my rhythm and make sure my body is feeling good. And I feel great." -Vince Carter
"We've gotta do a good job still of keeping the pressure up and still compete. You don't wanna lollygag a week before the playoffs. We've gotta keep the pedal to the metal here." -Dirk Nowitzki
"You're not looking for any pressure to be taken off of you. You've gotta thrive in pressure situations to be a championship team ... You're going to have to drag me off the floor before I sit down." -Delonte West
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