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NBA Preview from The Sports Network



Thursday, April 26th (All times eastern)

Dallas Mavericks (36-29) at Atlanta Hawks (39-26), 8 p.m.

(Sports Network) - A pair of teams with playoff scenarios still yet to be determined get together tonight, as the Atlanta Hawks take on the visiting Dallas Mavericks at Philips Arena.

The Hawks are the fifth seed in the East and will face the Boston Celtics in the opening round of the playoffs. Atlanta can capture homecourt advantage with a win Thursday or a Boston loss versus Milwaukee.

Atlanta will wrap up a regular-season ending five-game homestand and is 3-1 on the residency following Tuesday's 109-102 victory over the Los Angeles Clippers. Joe Johnson scored 28 points, Jeff Teague had 21 and Josh Smith added 18 and 10 rebounds for the Hawks, who improved to 22-10 at home and have won eight of their last 11 games.

"I mean it's big. It's big," said Smith of having homecourt advantage. "It's nothing we're really trying to break our necks over. I think we just really want to go into the postseason as healthy as possible, just try to go out there and make sure that everybody that plays major minutes are healthy.

"So we'll see how it goes. Hopefully we'll get this next win to solidify it."

The defending champion Mavericks barely made it to the playoffs this season and can also improve its postseason status tonight.

Dallas is seated seventh in the West and can move up to the sixth spot with a win tonight and a Denver loss at Minnesota. Oklahoma City and the Los Angeles Lakers are the two teams both Dallas and Denver may face in the opening round of the playoffs. The Mavs hold the tiebreaker over the Nuggets.

In Saturday's 93-83 loss to the East's top seed, the Chicago Bulls, Dirk Nowitzki led the Mavericks with 17 points, while Rodrigue Beaubois and Vince Carter chipped in 16 and 15 points, respectively, for the Mavs, who were outscored by a 21-8 margin in the opening quarter and had won two straight and five of seven games.

"The slow start didn't deter our enthusiasm. We kept coming, kept defending and rebounding," Mavericks head coach Rick Carlisle said.

Dallas guards Jason Terry and Jason Kidd did not play due to rest and could be back tonight in Atlanta. Dallas is 13-19 away from Big D this season and will face Atlanta for the first time since sweeping a home-and-home set last year.

04/26 10:36:22 ET


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