By: Josh Clark

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DALLAS (105.3 The Fan) – The Mavericks are locked in a tight race for the West’s final four playoff spots. With four games left to play, let’s take a look at the teams Dallas is up against, and the schedules each team faces to finish out the regular season.

MEMPHIS (42-36): 5TH PLACE: 4 games remaining, .500+ 4, (@DAL, GS, @LAC, @GS)

PORTLAND (43-37): 6TH PLACE: 2 games remaining, .500+ 0, (MIN, DEN)

DALLAS (40-38) 2.0 gb: 7TH PLACE: 4 games remaining, .500+ 4, (MEM, @UTAH, @LAC, SAS)

UTAH (39-39) 3.0 gb: 8TH PLACE: 4 games remaining, .500+ 2, (LAC, @DEN, DAL, @LAL)

HOUSTON (38-40) 4.0 gb: 9TH PLACE: 4 games remaining: .500+ 0, (PHX, LAL, @MIN, SAC)

How they fared over the last 7 days:

Memphis (1-2), Portland (4-1), Dallas (3-0), Utah (2-1), Houston (1-2).

How They Got Here: Thanks to J.J. Barea, the Mavericks have somehow pulled off five straight wins. Dallas now sees themselves in a good position heading into the season’s final week. A tough road awaits Dallas, however. With 4 games remaining, all against Western Conference playoff foes, Dallas is going to have to continue to play well… And if they do make it… It’ll be because of their defense.

Yes, you read that right.

Dallas has held their opponents to less than 90 points in every game during this five game winning streak, while the offense hasn’t put up even 100 in any of the wins.

The reason? Rick Carlisle has changed up the dynamics of the offense, by opting to run a slower pace with J.J. at the point. The result? Fewer possessions for both teams.

Dallas has been winning without Parsons, Williams and very little contribution from Dirk.

The athleticism of Justin Anderson, the tenacity of Wesley Matthews, the drive in J.J. Barea… All of these are the reasons why Dallas is even in the race.

We’ll see if they can keep the train moving into the first round of the Western Conference playoffs.

Mavericks Prediction: 7th seed (last week: 9th seed)

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