Kirk - My head tells me this is the worst possible match up after a season of outpacing pre-season expectations. The Clippers have multiple guys to harass Luka Doncic into a less efficient performance and have the kind of big men who give Dallas trouble. My heart says that Rick Carlisle had to have determined, before the bubble, that the Clippers were the match up and opted to keep his cards as close to the vest as possible.
If the latter is even remotely true, then I’d expect Dallas to rattle off two wins to keep Los Angeles honest. Realistically, I think a gentleman’s sweep (4-1) is in order and we’ll walk away from the series with a clear picture of what the Mavericks have to do to improve next year.
Ryan - The Clippers are undoubtedly the best team in the West. Their two stars have only played 37 games together, yet have won 27 of those. They are the deepest team in the league with two players that are Six Man Of The Year finalists. Their greatest strength is the wing position, which is likely the Mavericks weakest defensive group. I think it’s possible that Dallas could steal a game or even two thanks to no home court advantage, but they’ll be an underdog in every game.
As much as I’d like the Mavericks to make a deep playoff run this year, it’s not their time. Even if this ends in a sweep, I’ll be excited knowing that there is playoff experience under the young cores belt now. This series may not be fun to watch at times, but it’s the beginning of something very special. (4-1)
Sam - Kirk and Ryan have both predicted a 4-1 series win by the Clippers, so I’ll go off course here and say the Clippers sweep the Mavericks. And this isn’t really a knock on Dallas - they’ve had a fantastic season! It was a better season than I could have hoped for. But the Clippers are probably the best team in the league. They’re deep, they have all-NBA caliber wings and they have defenders to throw Doncic off balance every minute he’s on the floor.
I think the last outing against the Clippers gave us all a sense of false hope. A locked-in Kawhi Leonard is arguably the best player in the entire league who will give the Mavericks fits on both ends. Passing lanes will be clogged, while the Clippers have the personnel to keep Doncic out of the paint. All ascending teams have to take their lumps along the way, and the Mavericks are about to get whopped right on the head.
Jordan - Since October I’ve been begging the holy trinity of basketball (Dr. James Naismith, Dr. Julius Erving, and Dr. Dirk Nowitzki) for the Mavericks to face any team in the West other than the Los Angeles Clippers. Sometimes god gives you what you don’t want, because it’s exactly what you need.
I’m not sure that applies here. Unless a year or two from now this team wins the title and we point to this experience.
The Mavericks will likely win 2 or 1 or 0 games, and all of that should ultimately be a subplot. What should matter is what they do with however many games they play. The adjustments they make. The lessons learned. I wish the Mavericks could be a fully healthy roster for this, because I think it could be a lot of fun. What I’m most interested in, outside of the Mavericks young duo in action, is seeing what kind twists Carlisle tries in the series. He’s known for it. And it’s been a long time since he’s had proper tools at his disposal in the postseason.
It’s likely Clippers in 5, but wouldn’t it be fun if they needed 6 to send the Mavericks packing?
Matt - It’s been a couple years since Dallas made the playoffs, but it’s been even longer since they made the playoffs as what would be considered an “up and coming” team. In all likelihood, this years postseason run will mirror closely their last (a quick first round exit) but the expectations make that fact a little less of a daunting eventuality, and more like a hopeful first step. As a team, we’re firmly in “just try to enjoy the ride” territory.
Granted, no one likes to see their team get blasted by a bunch of NBA mercenary All-Stars whose only reason for existing is to run roughshod over teams like the Mavericks, but I’m going to cherish any bright moment we get in this series even more knowing that it’s just a taste of what’s to come; not the bitter aftertaste of a team exiting any semblance of league-wide relevance like they were in 2016. All that said... Clippers in 6.