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 two 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.

*PORTLAND (43-38): 5TH PLACE: 1 game remaining, .500+ 0, (DEN)

*MEMPHIS (42-38) .5 GB: 6TH PLACE: 2 games remaining, .500+ 2, (@LAC, @GS)

DALLAS (41-39) 1.5 GB: 7TH PLACE: 2 games remaining, .500+ 2, (@UTAH, SAS)

UTAH (40-40) 2.5 GB: 8TH PLACE: 2 games remaining, .500+ 1, (DAL, @LAL)

HOUSTON (39-41) 3.5 GB: 9TH PLACE: 2 games remaining: .500+ 0, (@MIN, SAC)

*clinched playoff berth

How they fared over the last 4 days:

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

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How They Got Here: Dallas gutted out a 103-93 win over Memphis on Friday night. The win was very significant in their chances of claiming one of the west’s final playoff spots. Dallas and Memphis are both certainly limping toward the finish line, but the Mavs have been using it as motivation to reel off wins in six of their last seven games. Meanwhile, if it wasn’t for the Rockets losing at home to the lowly Phoenix Suns, the Memphis Grizzlies wouldn’t have clinched a playoff spot over the weekend, and would have been on the verge of missing the playoffs after losing 12 of their last 15 games.

What’s Next: A huge game in the western conference standings takes place in Salt Lake City tonight. Dallas needs a win in Utah or a Rockets loss at Minnesota to clinch a playoff berth Monday night. If neither of those happen, Dallas will have to beat the Spurs at home on Wednesday night or count on Houston losing to the Sacramento Kings at home.

How Far Can They Move Up: Dallas is only worried about getting the one win they need to clinch a playoff berth, but it’s hard not to imagine the realistic chance the Mavericks have of avoiding Golden State and San Antonio in the first round.

If Dallas wants to do that, they’ll do themselves a big favor by winning tonight in Utah.

A big question mark for the Mavs heading into Monday night is whether or not J.J. Barea and Deron Williams will be able to go. Barea suffered a strained groin in the first quarter of Friday’s win over Memphis. He returned shortly after, but left for good in the second quarter. Barea missed Sunday afternoon’s loss to the Clippers, but told reporters he was feeling better and hoped to play against the Jazz.

Dallas’ starting point guard, Deron Williams, made a surprising return to the lineup against the Clippers. He was very efficient for missing the last eight games with a sports hernia. Williams had 15 points to go along with four rebounds and three assists in 29 minutes.

For the first time in their last nine games, Dallas is hoping they’ll be able to get both of their guards on the floor for the most crucial game of the season.

Williams and Barea are listed as questionable.

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

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