The Dallas Mavericks know they will avoid the NBA's best team when they open the postseason and now they are in good position to avoid the second-best club as well.
The Mavericks can secure at least the Western Conference's No. 6 seed when they host a short-handed San Antonio Spurs club in the regular-season finale Wednesday night.
Dallas (42-39) clinched its 15th playoff berth in the last 16 years with Monday's 101-92 victory at Utah. The Mavericks have won seven of eight after Deron Williams scored 23 points and Dirk Nowitzki had 22 and 11 boards.
''Well, it's been a lot of work,'' coach Rick Carlisle said. ''It's been an amazing two weeks. Our guys looked like they were down and out, and we all dug in. Everyone dug in, especially the players, and we found a way to get into the playoffs."
There's little doubt that Dallas wants to avoid being the seventh seed for a matchup with San Antonio (66-15) after losing 14 of the previous 16 regular-season meetings, including all three this season.
"You know, this team wants to be as high of a seed as possible, and that's what we're going to try to do," Williams told the Mavericks' official website. "And we'll try to take care of business at home against San Antonio."
Now the only way the Mavericks can finish seventh is with a loss to the Spurs and an upset victory by Memphis at Golden State later Wednesday. Dallas will gain the sixth seed with a victory or a loss by the Grizzlies and will be fifth with a win and a loss by Portland at home to Denver.
Although the Mavericks have enjoyed little success against one of their Lone Star state rivals, the task should be easier in this one. The Spurs won 102-98 in overtime over Oklahoma City on Tuesday and figure to rest many of their stars one night later, with Kawhi Leonard and Tony Parker confirming they won't be making the trip.
One player who also probably won't be there is LaMarcus Aldridge, who exited three minutes into the third quarter and didn't return. He doesn't appear to be injured, with coach Gregg Popovich saying Aldridge left because he needed to use the restroom.
''He's fine,'' Popovich said. ''He went in to take a leak.''
Considering the break lasted most of the second half, Popovich was again pressed to explain Aldridge's absence.
"Let me say it differently,'' Popovich said. ''He went into the locker room and used the latrine.''
Leonard scored 26 and Parker added 20 for the Spurs, who tied an NBA record by going 40-1 at home after being down by 10 points at halftime.
"Just try to stay in rhythm obviously, because we're not going to play until Saturday or Sunday," Parker said. "The second half was a lot better."
The Spurs have dropped three straight regular-season finales.