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Mavericks Clinch 2021 NBA Playoff Berth; Latest Standings, Postseason Picture

Adam Wells@adamwells1985Featured ColumnistMay 15, 2021

Toronto Raptors' Stanley Johnson (5) looks on as Dallas Mavericks guard Luka Doncic (77) takes a shot in the first half of an NBA basketball game in Dallas, Friday, May 14, 2021. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)
Tony Gutierrez/Associated Press

The Dallas Mavericks are headed to the playoffs for the second consecutive season. They officially secured a postseason berth Friday with a 114-110 win over the Toronto Raptors at American Airlines Center.

Here's a look at the latest Western Conference playoff standings and postseason picture following Dallas' win.

               

Western Conference Standings

1. Utah Jazz: 51-20

2. Phoenix Suns: 49-21

3. Denver Nuggets: 47-24

4. Los Angeles Clippers: 47-24

5. Dallas Mavericks: 42-29

6. Portland Trail Blazers: 41-30

7. Los Angeles Lakers: 40-30

8. Golden State Warriors: 38-33

9. Memphis Grizzlies: 38-33

10. San Antonio Spurs: 33-37

11. New Orleans Pelicans: 31-40

12. Sacramento Kings: 31-40

13. Minnesota Timberwolves: 22-48

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14. Oklahoma City Thunder: 21-50

15. Houston Rockets: 17-54

    

Current First-Round Playoff Matchups

No. 1 Utah Jazz vs. Lowest Play-In Seed

No. 2 Phoenix Suns vs. Highest Play-In Seed

No. 3 Denver Nuggets vs. No. 6 Portland Trail Blazers

No. 4 Los Angeles Clippers vs. No. 5 Dallas Mavericks

       

Current Play-In Matchups

No. 7 Los Angeles Lakers vs. No. 8 Golden State Warriors (winner plays No. 2 Suns)

No. 9 Memphis Grizzlies vs. No. 10 San Antonio Spurs (loser eliminated)

No. 7/8 Game Loser vs. No. 9/10 Game winner (winner plays No. 1 Jazz)

      

Coming off a 43-32 record and a seventh-place finish in the Western Conference last season, expectations were high for the Mavs coming into the 2020-21 season. They put up a valiant effort in the first-round series loss to the Los Angeles Clippers in six games.

The biggest reason for optimism in Dallas is Luka Doncic. He emerged as an All-Star in 2019-20 and continued his ascent this season. He entered Friday ranking in the top 10 in the NBA in scoring average (28.0 points per game) and assists (8.6), along with 8.0 rebounds per contest. 

The 22-year-old also improved as a shooter with a career-high 35.5 three-point percentage on 8.3 attempts per game. 

Elsewhere, Kristaps Porzingis has looked for extended stretches like the No. 2 star that Dallas envisioned when it acquired him from the New York Knicks. He started Friday averaging 20.1 points on 36.3 percent three-point shooting and 9.0 rebounds per game this season.

Injuries were a problem for Dallas, especially when it comes to the 25-year-old Latvian. He has missed 29 games already this season and got off to a slow start while working his way back from offseason knee surgery to repair a lateral meniscus tear. 

There were some early concerns for the Mavs this season. They were 8-13 and coming off six straight losses on Feb. 2. Some of those struggles came about because the team dealt with a series of COVID-19 issues and were without key players for multiple games. 

Since that losing streak, though, they have gone 34-16 and clinched the Southwest Division for the first time since 2009-10. They are the No. 5 seed in the Western Conference. 

Head coach Rick Carlisle's squad is dangerous because it has a legitimate superstar in Doncic who has shown a knack for making big plays in key moments and setting up his teammates for easy baskets. 

If everything falls into place for the Mavs, they could be a sleeper team that makes a deep postseason run as they chase their first NBA title since the 2010-11 season.  

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