Both the Dallas Mavericks and the San Antonio Spurs have something to prove in the final quarter of the season, which begins on Thursday in Dallas when the teams return to action following the All-Star break.
The Mavericks are attempting to move up the Western Conference standings as they quickly adjust to Kyrie Irving, who was brought to Dallas to play with Luka Doncic and make the most of the remaining 22 games.
Dallas plays the first game of a six-game homestand on Thursday, and the Spurs play their seventh consecutive road game after dropping the first six games of their annual Rodeo Road Trip.
The Mavericks begin the stretch run having lost three games in a row, the most recent of which was a 118-109 defeat in Denver on February 15 that dropped them to sixth place in the Western Conference. Dallas is only two games ahead of 12th-place Portland and two games behind third-place Sacramento.
Dallas lost to Denver with 37 points scored by Doncic, 17 by Christian Wood, 11 by McKinley Wright IV, and 10 by A.J. Lawson. Dallas was without Irving and Tim Hardaway Jr. because of injuries to their lower backs.
Since the trade, Doncic and Irving have only played together twice, and they took advantage of their All-Star break to get to know each other better.
After dropping a franchise-record 14 games in a row prior to the week-long break, the Spurs needed it to regroup. Regardless of the faint, its second this extended period of something like 11 misfortunes, San Antonio is as yet not the most horrendously terrible group in the NBA; Houston holds that dubious distinction, trailing the Spurs by half a game.
On February 15, San Antonio lost to Charlotte 120-110. Malaki Branham scored 23 points to lead the Spurs. Keldon Johnson added 21, Doug McDermott scored 17 points off the bench, and Zach Collins scored 14. San Antonio had six players score in double figures.
In the final six minutes of the game, San Antonio only managed to score eight points.
Doncic scored 51 points to lead Dallas to a 126-125 victory in the Alamo City on December 31, their only meeting this season.