DALLAS -– Remember that proverbial kitchen sink Rick Carlisle talked about throwing at teams a few times earlier this year?
The Dallas Mavericks coach might want to pick up another one and have his team throw it at the Phoenix Suns tonight.
With the regular season winding to a close, the Mavs (48-32) are guaranteed a spot in the NBA’s 16-team playoff if they can beat the Suns (47-32) tonight. Tipoff at American Airlines Center is at 7:30 p.m.
After his team’s shootaround Saturday morning, Carlisle made no bones about how he feels about tonight’s encounter with Phoenix.
“These are the ultimate games,’’ Carlisle said. “If you don’t like this you’ve got to get into another line of work.
“You work all year for opportunities to play in games like this. We’ve played in a lot of them, but none quite to this magnitude tonight. It’s all about together and compete, and that’s going to be what our approach is going to be tonight.’’
The other factor to show just how serious the Mavs are about closing this playoff deal tonight is that those normal rest periods Carlisle has for his players will change. No way will Carlisle flirt around with keeping Dirk Nowitzki, Vince Carter and Shawn Marion on the bench for extended periods in a game of this magnitude.
“I look to keep guys fresh,’’ Carlisle said. “But at the same time if we’ve got to stretch Dirk’s minutes and Carter’s minutes and Marion’s minutes, tonight is the night where we’re going to do that.’’
-- Dwain Price
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