NBA schedule 2014: Mavericks, Suns fight for last playoff spot

Christian Petersen

The regular season is coming to a close and teams at the bottom of the West are jockeying for playoff position.

The playoffs are a week away. Teams are fighting for a playoff spot. This is what you need to watch.

Main Course

Phoenix Suns vs Dallas Mavericks

NBA TV; 8:30 p.m. ET

It's a shame that either of these teams, or Memphis, will have to miss the playoffs, but that's part of the drawback of the current postseason system. In the East, Phoenix and Dallas would fight for a three seed and seriously threaten the Heat or Pacers in a second round matchup. But, alas, they are in the loaded Western Conference and there is a good chance that one of the two will not reach the playoffs.

Phoenix can't afford to lose this game. It holds the same record (47-32) as the eighth place Grizzlies, but the Grizzlies own the tiebreaker. Therefore, if the season ended today, the Suns would miss out on the postseason. A loss against Dallas would seriously damage their chances of playing in May.

Dallas is in seventh place, but it isn't in any position of comfort. After playing the Suns tonight, it will travel to Memphis on Wednesday to play what could essentially be a playoff game. Lose against the Suns and the Mavericks are on the outside looking in, but win and they're in the postseason. High stakes!

Appetizer

Sacramento Kings vs Los Angeles Clippers

League Pass; 3:30 p.m. ET

Here's a game without any playoff implications. Rather than watching from the edge of your seat, you can sit back, relax and just enjoy the game of basketball. That's easy to do, too, when you're watching the Clippers. They are high flying, fluid offensively and much improved on the defensive end. A win against the Kings would match last year's franchise record in wins on a season. It would also wipe the bitter taste left over from the L the Thunder gave the Clippers on Wednesday.

The Kings are extremely talented, but they are young and have yet to put it all together. Rookie point guard Ray McCallum has averaged 7.2 assists over the last nine games as a starter in place for the injured Isaiah Thomas.

Dessert

Miami Heat vs Atlanta Hawks

League Pass; 7:30 p.m. ET

The Hawks could clinch a playoff spot and effectively end the New York Knicks chance at a playoff spot with a win tonight over the Heat. The problem for Atlanta is that the Heat also need to win this game. Miami is just a half game up over the Pacers for the no. 1 seed in the East. Winning its last three games would seal the deal on the top spot.

If the season ended today, these two teams would play each other in the first round. Let's use this game as a preview. Spoiler: Things go bad for the Hawks.

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