Here we go again... (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
This preview is part of an SB-Nation hoops league-wide effort, so cruise over to the other playoff team blogs and check out some fantastic previews! And for more info on the first round matchup with the Oklahoma City Thunder, visit Welcome to Loud City.
Team Record: 36-30
How would you describe the Mavericks in the regular season? A shit show. Seriously, Khloe and Lamar? Are you kidding me? The Mavericks had their fair share of distractions this season. Add to that the whole 'defending the title' thing and you've got a recipe for a weird season. Every team gives you their best because you're the defending champs. Everybody scrutinizes your every success and failure. With great power comes great responsibility, or some such cliche. That being said, the Mavs made the playoffs for the 12th straight season. With this condensed schedule, that's not bad for a team who's entire roster was alive when Kennedy was shot.
What are the Mavericks' strengths? Are there any areas that concern you? Dirk. Freaking. Nowitzki. Have you seen the guy? He's pretty good at basketball. That, and the fact that we have one of the deepest teams in the NBA. Sure, our bench may not be as consistently amazing as it was last season, but we still have Jason Terry and Ian Mahinmi and Brandan Wright and Vince Carter and Brian Cardinal. Off the bench. Areas of weakness? Yeah, old knees. Tired legs. Mental fatigue. Pretty much the same thing everyone else will worry about. That, and our three-headed monster at center isn't as monstrous as we would like.
What is your likely playoff rotation? Who is likely to see their
minutes increase? Who might fall out of the rotation completely? Playoff rotation is probably going to be pretty damn similar to the regular season- Rick Carlisle isn't that crazy. Nowitzki, Kidd, Marion, West, Haywood. Terry and Carter will join Mahinmi and Wright off the bench. Facing a team like the Thunder, we will definitely need the defense to stop the young guns, so I imagine West will get some good floor time along with Marion. The biggest unknown is Rodrigue Beaubois, who showed signs of life as the season wound down. If he sneezes funny, he gets benched. But he's fast as hell and long and freakishly athletic, so he might be a big help against the young Thunder squad. It will come down to how Rick is feeling about the French at any given moment.
Who is most likely to step up their level of play? Do you have a
potential "breakout" peformer this postseason? I can't wait to see Delonte West and Vince Carter. I think both of them have their reasons to work extra hard. West needs to prove to Dallas that he wants to spend a lot of time there, and that he's worth paying. Carter wants a ring. He's not getting younger, and he's probably feeling like he hasn't lived up to his potential. He friggin dunked over a dude. In the Olympics. Who does that?
How far can you realistically see Dallas advancing in the playoffs? Guh I hate this question. You know, if we can get past the Thunder, I think we can make it to the 3rd round. Or hell, win it all. I don't know. This is the Dallas Mavericks. Anything is possible.