Nowitzki, Mavericks start final push for playoffs

Dirk Nowitzki and the Dallas Mavericks have seven games to avoid landing in the lottery for a second year in a row after 12 straight seasons in the playoffs.

It's almost like a postseason series for the franchise that hasn't won a playoff game since taking the title in 2011. Except the first four games are on the road. And the Mavericks likely will have to win more than four to make sure they advance.

If the Mavericks can't beat the playoff-bound Los Angeles Clippers on Thursday night, they'll have no choice but to take care of the suddenly moribund Lakers in the same arena a night later.

An overtime loss to Golden State left Dallas a half-game out of the final playoff spot in the Western Conference.

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