With 7 games to play the Mavs, Nuggets and Warriors are battling it out for the last two western conference playoff spots. Dallas, on Wednesday night, got a huge emotional lift with the surprise return of Dirk Nowitzki, leading the way to a 111-86 home thrashing of the Warriors that also handed the Mavs the season series and thus the tiebreak.

Right now the Mavs are in sole possession of 7th place one game ahead of Denver and two up on Golden State. You think the Mavs should be safe right? Not so fast. They have by far the toughest remaining schedule of the three teams with 4 of their 7 remaining games coming against western conference powers including road games this weekend against the Lakers and Suns. A 5th game will be played on the road in Portland where it is always tough to get a win. Since the Kidd trade Dallas had struggled mightily, in fact winless, against winning teams until their route of the Warriors last time out but Dirk's dramatic recovery may be enough to propel them.

Warriors and Nuggets have a far less demanding schedule but do have an April 10th TNT showdown coming up in Oakland. Out of the three teams I don't see the Warriors making it because they have not been playing well lately and have been inconsistent all season long. Denver has been hot of late and I'm just not a guy that's going to bet against the will of A.I. Given the Mavs tiebreak advantage the Warriors would have to be three games better then Dallas in order to advance. I don't see that happening. If Golden State has any hope of advancing they need Stephen Jackson to wake up and start playing. Last two games against the Mavs and Spurs has been a disaster for Jack shooting a combined 3-23.