Path to NBA Finals gets easier for Mavericks after the James Harden trade

Mar 2, 2023; Dallas, Texas, USA;  Dallas Mavericks guard Luka Doncic (77) looks to score as
Mar 2, 2023; Dallas, Texas, USA; Dallas Mavericks guard Luka Doncic (77) looks to score as / Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

The Dallas Mavericks capped off Monday night with an emphatic 125-110 win over the Memphis Grizzlies. This would be the first time since the 2004-05 season that the Mavs found themselves 3-0.

Grant Williams and Derrick Jones Jr. capped off a spectacular night with a combined eight three-pointers between the two. Williams and Jones Jr. would also have their presence felt on the defensive end as they would hold the Grizzlies to just 110 points on the night.

Superstar Luka Doncic would continue tapping into his magic as he put up yet another triple-double. Doncic seemingly dissected the Grizzlies' talented defensive roster behind his six three-pointers and 12 assists.

Path to NBA Finals gets easier for Mavericks after the James Harden trade

It's clear to see the Mavericks have gotten off to an impressive start, and the team continues to rise in the NBA power rankings under Doncic. However, one trade could have just shifted the tide in the Western Conference.

James Harden was recently traded to the Los Angeles Clippers for a boatload of players and draft compensation according to Shams Charania of The Athletic.

Overnight, Harden would be packing his bags and headed to Los Angeles, a destination he had been begging to be in for months before this blockbuster deal was finalized. In the process, the Clippers sent over most of their remaining draft picks and some bench pieces.

Now, with the Mavericks' electric start to the season, how does the James Harden trade affect the Mavericks' odds of winning the 2024 NBA Finals?

Obviously, it would be a far fetch to call the Mavs Finals contenders after just a three-game sample size, but it's hard to envision this year's team taking a nose dive like we saw in the previous season, barring any injuries.

The Clippers and Mavericks have had a past early in Doncic's career, as the two would face off twice in back-to-back playoffs, where the Clippers would get the better of the young Mavs in both appearances. However, even after the Clippers acquired a third star, the Mavs will finally finish on top of this Western Conference rivalry. LA arguably got worse in this trade, and who knows how the big three of Harden, Paul George, and Kawhi Leonard will work out.

With the Clippers' lack of depth and huge question mark regarding all three of their star player's health and availability, it could be argued this will be yet another big three that fails. Dallas has the edge over Los Angeles, especially after the Harden trade, as their depth is diminished.

If Dallas' bench can excel, it seems that the Mavs have the edge in this rivalry. The Clippers' rivalry with Dallas has been quiet over the last few years, and maybe the Harden trade can spark their rivalry once again. These teams clearly don't like each other, and Doncic's next change for revenge is soon.

Doncic and the Mavericks will get their first look at this newly reformed LA Clippers team on Friday, November 10, in Dallas. This will also mark their second game of the NBA's new In-Season Tournament.

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