Thursday, April 10, 2008

Going down to the last day is beneficial

Avery Johnson has been saying it for weeks. Playoff pairings in the Western Conference are going down to the last day of the regular season and, you know what, he’s right.

Without doing the math, and believe me I don’t have the time or the know-how, it’s safe to expect several, if not all, of the four matchups will be decided Wednesday.

“It’s kind of similar to the year we went to the Finals,” Johnson said, referring to 2006. “We weren’t fighting for a playoff seed, but we were fighting for positioning and we were able to play all the way to the 81st game. We rested on that 82nd game.

“We’re hoping that we’re in a similar situation now. That we can get this thing wrapped up as soon as we can, but more than anything we want to be playing some good basketball.”

The three games leading up to Utah tonight suggest that is taking place. Wins over Golden State and Phoenix were sandwiched around a loss to the Lakers. That stretch followed an 11-game losing streak to teams with winning records, including the last 10 since trading for Jason Kidd.

“Obviously, we haven’t had much success against some of the better teams in the league,” Johnson said. “Like I kept telling the guys, it’s over with. We’ve got to learn from it. We just weren’t right and we had too many miscues and we just weren’t right in a lot of ways.”

And now?

“How have we been in the last three games in those situations against some of the better teams in our league? So we’re 2-1 now and that’s how we’re looking at it,” Johnson continued. “Forget about what happened before that. If we can continue to use it as an advantage and not look past anybody and remain focused, then I think it can be of some benefit to us.”

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