The Mavericks, just off a win against the Warriors, are currently jockeying for a playoff spot in the crowded western conference. Although their bid isn’t solidified, with a good sized lead over the ninth place spot and a bevy of tiebreakers against the bottom seeds, the Mavs are, in my books, a lock for the playoffs barring an epic collapse. That being said, they are realistically eliminated from a seed higher than sixth. Although conventional logic would indicate that the Mavs would do everything in their power to get the highest seed, this isn’t likely to be true. At some point it is likely that Kidd, Carter, and Dirk may be rested for the playoffs. It is also possible that not getting the 6 seed could be a good thing, depending on which teams get the top three seeds in the west and in which order.
That brings me to my main question. What is the ideal (realistic) playoff bracket for the Mavs. Who do they want to face in round one? Ideally, who would they want to face in round two? This may seem like an exercise in futility considering our control over these issues (then again, we all do mock drafts as well), but most importantly (for me, at least) it tells us who to root for and against over the next couple weeks.
In round two of this playoff we would face the two or seven seed. This would likely be the Thunder or Spurs, though could also be the Rockets, Jazz, Nuggets, or even the Suns. Chances are, it wouldn’t matter, though ideally the team with the highest chance of beating the two seed would end up there. The spurs are 2-2 against the Rockets (with one win in OT), 2-0 against the Suns, 2-1 against the nuggets, and 3-1 against the Jazz. Needless to say they are worst against the Rockets, so if the Spurs get the two seed, the Rockets would be the best bet against them. The Thunder are also 2-2 against Houston (with a close win and two close losses), 2-0 against the Suns, 2-0 (1 OT) against Denver, and 2-1 against the Jazz. Once again, it seems as though Houston is the best bet to knock off the higher seed. Thus we can pencil in Houston as our ideal seven seed.
Regardless of who wins the seven seed, we will likely play the higher seed. As such, who do the Mavs have the best chance of upsetting, the Spurs or Thunder? Now, OKC is 3-1 against Dallas, but one of those wins was at the buzzer (who could forget?) and a second was a close (badly reffed) game. We are, however, 2-2 against the Spurs (with one loss at the start of the season, when we were really disjointed), who will likely be less motivated and more tired out than the Thunder (see the series against Memphis last year). As such i’d rather see the Spurs in round two and let the Lakers and Thunder battle it out for the right to face us in the conference finals.
The seeds which were undecided, on the other side of the brackets (seeds 4, 5, and 8), are probably irrelevant, since the chances of the 8 seed getting to round 3 is miniscule, and the better team will likely win in the 4 vs 5 matchup regardless. In the end, the "best" team will win that side, and its a waste of time to analyze the best possible scenario from three different series. So to summarize, my ideal standings for the Mavs would be:
8. Phoenix (who doesn’t want to see Steve Nash get one last try?)
Now that I know who I am rooting for, what do you guys want to see?