Luka Doncic put on another show Friday night, recording his 11th triple-double of the season to lead the Dallas Mavericks to a 114-110 win over the Toronto Raptors at American Airlines Center.
In the process, the Mavs secured a top-six finish in the Western Conference, meaning they will avoid the play-in tournament and a possible showdown with the Warriors.
Golden State’s list of potential opponents in the play-in game is down to three: the Los Angeles Lakers, the Portland Trail Blazers and the San Antonio Spurs.
The Warriors (38-33) and Memphis Grizzlies (38-33) will battle for the No. 8 seed Sunday in the regular-season finale. Both teams rested key players Friday but earned victories and want one more win to avoid falling to No. 9, which would pit them against No. 10 San Antonio Spurs in the West’s first elimination game. Advancing to the No. 7/No. 8 game would put the Warriors one win away from the first round and in a double-elimination scenario.
The Lakers (40-30) and Blazers (41-30) have yet to decide which team is the No. 6 seed and which team is the No. 7 seed. A top-six finish is key for rest at this point of the compacted season, not to mention the guarantee of a seven-game series in first round instead of the crapshoot-like play-in tournament.
“Avoid the play-in is significant, it’s important,” Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle told reporters after Friday’s victory, per the Associated Press. “There’s just too many advantages to not being in the play-in situation. So I’m happy for our guys. They worked hard for this.”
The Warriors are in postseason mode heading into Sunday’s finale. They’re two wins away from the first round no matter how you slice it. You already know Steph Curry and Draymond Green are ready to turn up after sitting out Friday’s game.