With 34 games left to play, the Mavericks will have some level of maneuverability within the NBA standings, but it's mostly all set now. Today's roundtable question involves the playoffs, where we think Dallas will fall and who they might play.
Where do you see the Mavericks finishing in the Western Conference? Which team would be the best case first round scenario?
Bailey Rogers (@BRogers789): I want the Mavericks to play the Clippers. I don't know if this would be the best matchup or not, but it will be the most emotionally satisfying. Even beyond the DeAndre drama, I just really don't like the Clippers. I don't like Doc Rivers or Lance Stevenson or Chris Paul or DeAndre Jordan. Blake Griffin just punched a guy! This is an unlikable team, and I have more fun with a playoff series where the opponent can be painted as villains.
Assuming the Clippers finish No. 4 in the West (which looks likely), that would mean Dallas needs the 5 seed. Yes, I realize that sets the Mavs up for inevitable death if they can beat Los Angeles, as they move onto a second round matchup with the Warriors. So be it. Dallas isn't making it out of the second round regardless, and Mavs-Dubs have been fun games to watch so far this season. Bring on annihilation.
Doyle Rader (@TheKobeBeef): I think the Mavs have the potential to finish as either the 5th or 6th seed. They've hung around the middle of the standings all season and haven't really had much of a fall off despite a few rough patches in the schedule. The Rockets could pass them, dropping the Mavs to the 7th seed but I still feel that Dallas is good enough to land in the middle.
As for who I'd like them to play, well, I don't want them to play any of the top 3 teams (Warriors, Spurs, Thunder). So, ideally, I'd like the Mavs in the 5th seed facing either the Clippers or Grizzlies. I think that the best chance for the Mavs to advance would be a series with Memphis. They've split the two games they've played this season and I think that there are some favorable matchups there for Dallas. However, for this to happen, the Clippers would have to have a dramatic fall off. So, realistically, it'll probably be Mavs vs. Clippers in the first round if the Mavs move back into the 5th seed.
Josh Bowe (@Boweman55): It seems crazy to think of the Mavs going anywhere but down in the standings after their horrific January and Dirk's slump since December. But the Mavs did run through a gauntlet this month and came out relatively ok. They started the month in fifth place. They're now in sixth, that's not too bad! An easier schedule coming up should see the Mavs hover between fifth and sixth and hopefully stay ahead of the Rockets for seventh.
Ideally for the playoff matchup it has to be anyone other than the Warriors, Spurs or Thunder. I'd normally throw the Clippers into that mix but the Mavs seem to always give them a good run no matter what the talent gap is.
Tim Cato (@tim_cato): The Western Conference seems to have settled out. The No. 8 seed will be a battle, and by all means, let the Blazers and Kings and Jazz duke it out to their hearts content. Congratulations! You made the playoffs! Go play the Warriors now, who probably just had the best season of all time! But No. 1 through No. 7 appears to be set. The only question now is how it settles out.
I'm not ruling out a late Houston run, but at this point, it'd be hard to see them pass by Los Angeles. Certainly, falling to No. 7 and a likely first round series against the Spurs, while interesting due to the 2014 storyline, really isn't ideal. If the Clippers actually begin to stumble without Griffin and Memphis pushes past them, that's probably the scenario Dallas would like best. Otherwise, bring on Los Angeles.