Dallas Mavericks' 'nightmare matchup' for playoffs that they must avoid is clear

Denver Nuggets v Dallas Mavericks
Denver Nuggets v Dallas Mavericks / Ron Jenkins/GettyImages

Luka Doncic and the Dallas Mavericks have shown they are true contenders lately, and all eyes have been on them after Kyrie Irving's miraculous game-winner against the Denver Nuggets last Sunday.

Dallas is sitting at 41-29 and is in eighth place in the Western Conference, and the ceiling seems to keep rising with this team. After their trades for Daniel Gafford and P.J. Washington, Dallas' defense has improved tremendously as both Gafford and Washington have provided a much-needed boost.

With the Mavs playing so well, many have already begun to think about the playoffs and who they will play against in the first round.

Dallas Mavericks' 'nightmare matchup' for playoffs that they must avoid is clear

While no matchup in the playoffs is easy, one team in the Western Conference was ruled the Mavericks' "nightmare matchup" by Greg Swartz of Bleacher Report. Swartz said that the Nuggets are Dallas' nightmare matchup, and he couldn't be more correct.

Denver is currently the No. 2 seed in the Western Conference with the Sacramento Kings being 1.5 games behind them. The Mavs must do whatever they can to avoid the Nuggets, as they may be the best team in the West despite what the seeding says.

The Nuggets are 2-1 against the Mavs this year, with Dallas' one win coming after Irving's incredible game-winner. It seems like Dallas would have lost in overtime of that game if Irving missed that shot due to the momentum shift that happened when the Mavs blew a 13-point lead with under seven minutes remaining in the game.

The Nuggets match up well with almost any team in the league due to their versatility and size, but Swartz's reason for thinking the Nuggets would dominate the Mavericks isn't super valid when examining the last game.

Swarz said that Denver's playoff experience may be too much for Dallas, which is true, but he also said that the matchup down low between Dereck Lively II and Nikola Jokic would be too much of a mismatch for Lively II to handle.

First off, Gafford is the starting center, not Lively II.

Second off, Lively II did an outstanding job on Jokic in their last matchup. Jokic shot 6-16 from the field when he played Dallas last week, and Lively II did a great job of playing physically and frustrating him.

According to a stat found by JJ Redick, "Jokic was 2-8 when Lively II was the contesting defender."

Redick praised Lively II's performance in this game, and if he and Gafford can collectively limit Jokic and make the Nuggets' other players beat them, the Mavs would have a good shot at taking down the reigning champions.

Anyone can beat anyone at this time of the year, but I think it's clear that the Mavs drawing the Nuggets and Jokic in the first round is not something they'd want. Doncic will give Dallas a great chance of winning any series that they compete in, but Jokic and Denver may be the worst matchup of them all.

For all the latest on Luka Doncic, Dereck Lively II, and the Dallas Mavericks for the remainder of the regular season and throughout the playoffs, stay