The Mavericks are a lock for the playoffs. Understanding that, who is your preferred playoff match up? For the sake of argument ignore odds and likely match ups and just go with who you’d most like to see Dallas play.
Kevin: I would love to see the Mavericks play the Oklahoma City Thunder, which is still somewhat possible as a 4/5 match up. This isn’t really because I believe they’d be a great match up, it’s more about the story. The weird pseudo-rivalry (that extends outside of basketball) would be fun to see with the rosters of 2020. Getting to watch Luka, in his first NBA playoffs, match up with one of the greatest to ever do it* in Chris Paul would be fantastic.
Jordan: I only truly fear and dread the Clippers, so I will get pretty amped about any other match up. But who would be the best to eliminate? That’s easy, the Houston Rockets. The Mavericks won the title in 2011, and in the nine years since, the Mavericks were nice enough to give the Rockets a shot at another title. Pay no attention to the Mark Cuban behind the curtain selling off his team for cap space.
Now the Mavericks are back and the Rockets possibly let their small title window pass (they should have won in 2018). What would be better than seeing the Mavericks pester an in-state rival with two of the flashiest superstar guards in the league? Yes, the Rockets don’t have quite the same juice they’ve had over the last few seasons, but it would be a very entertaining series. And I’d be excited to see Carlisle scheme for a center-less opponent.
Doyle: I’ve heard of locks and lock boxes before. I’m not ready to say they are a lock despite the statistical probability and whatever Daryl Morey says when he retweets me. But yes, it would take a catastrophe to miss the playoffs at this point. OK, with that said, I don’t want this team to see anyone in the playoffs. Their home woes worry me too much. As of this writing, the Mavericks sit in the seventh seed. That means they would play the Denver Nuggets in the first round. That’s not a terrible match up. However, Nikola Jokic will absolutely shred any player Dallas rolls out to defend him—as long as he cares about the game. The Mavs lose that series in five most likely. That’s not what anyone is tuning in to see.
Ideally, I’d like to see Dallas move back up the standings to where they were earlier this season. Put them at the four or five spot and have them play the Rockets in the first round. While there would be considerable vitriol spewed forth from Houston fans, who are still bragging and posturing about cheating in the World Series like they were two-bit Philadelphia Eagles fans, that series would hold the most “fun” potential. You’ve got your stars in Luka Doncic and Russell Westbrook. You have your villain in James Harden. You have two Dallas centers who stand at 7-foot-3. And you have 19 Houston centers that stand at 5-foot-10. What more can you ask for in a series?
The NBA needs this series. We need this series. No one wants to see Mavs vs. Clippers in the first round. Let’s root for something fun.
Matt: As it stands right now, the 7th seed Mavs would face off against the 2nd seed Nuggets, and, weirdly... I think that might be our best bet. Simply, I don’t want any part of either of the teams from L.A. — the Clippers with their All Pro combo of wings and seemingly every meaningful player that got bought out added to their already potent bench and the Lakers with a motivated LeBron and Co. on a “win one for Kobe” tear.
This season, for whatever reason, Dallas has held their own against the Nuggets, winning a close game early on with contributions from the whole roster, and then losing a tape-to-tape nail biter by a point back in January. The Nuggets, while probably a step ahead of Dallas in terms of playoff experience and “paying their dues” in the playoffs, are still not necessarily a team that seems inherently tuned to be a playoff monster. Jokic will still be doing Jokic things, but if Dallas can roll in to a round 1 series with Kristaps Porzingis and Luka Doncic finally having meshed their two play styles together in a meaningful way, they’ll be more than capable of exploding for 120+ on any given night.
Now, Dallas has 2 games remaining against the Nuggets, and if we get blown out by 20+ and the Nuggets look like they’re ready to storm through the West, I could be singing a different tune, but time will tell.
Kirk: Am I a lunatic for wanting to play the Lakers? Yes?
I can’t get two things out of my head: first, the incredible game the Mavericks played in Los Angeles around Thanksgiving. Second, the Lakers have stolen a lot of time playing a two headed center of Dwight Howard and JaVale McGee. I can’t believe their health luck like that lasts.
It won’t happen and Lebron James and Anthony Davis exist so perhaps I’m being obtuse. But that’s what I want at the moment.