Dallas Mavericks ruled a 'nightmare matchup' for feared Western Conference contender

Washington Wizards v Dallas Mavericks
Washington Wizards v Dallas Mavericks / Sam Hodde/GettyImages

Heading into Sunday's matchup with the Utah Jazz, the Dallas Mavericks are 41-29 on the year and they have won seven of their last eight games.

Dallas is playing together, buckling down on defense, and playing with an energy that we have never seen before with this team this season. Thursday night's win over the Jazz was fueled with energy, as the Mavs broke the franchise record for dunks in a game.

No one would have thought that was possible with the roster they had at the beginning of the season, and they are showing the rest of the league that they are real contenders.

Dallas Mavericks ruled a 'nightmare matchup' for feared Western Conference contender

While the playoffs are still a few weeks away, people are still looking ahead at potential matchups that they may have. It looks like Dallas will likely land somewhere in between the five and eight seeds, but even the four seed isn't out of the question yet.

Greg Swartz of Bleacher Report recently gave the top eight teams in each conference a "nightmare matchup" for the first round of the playoffs, and the Oklahoma City Thunder's "nightmare matchup" was the Mavs. This is a series that every fan wants to see, especially with the chatter among fans regarding who is better between Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Luka Doncic, and the Mavs might just have the squad to send the Thunder home earlier than expected.

Swartz thinks the Mavs are a bad matchup for the Thunder because of Doncic's individual dominance in games against Oklahoma City this season as well as Dallas' new additions of Daniel Gafford and P.J. Washington. This season against the Thunder, Doncic is averaging 34 points, 11.5 rebounds, and 13.5 assists per game while shooting 42.9 percent from downtown.

Doncic takes his game to the next level when playing the Thunder, and he missed Dallas' most recent game against the Thunder in which the Mavs lost 126-119 on the road. If Doncic would have played in that game, the result could have looked much different.

Swartz also talked about how the Mavs are 1-2 against the Thunder this season, but one of Doncic or Kyrie Irving was out in each of their losses. In the one game against the Thunder that Doncic and Irving were both healthy for, the Mavs won by 35 points.

Gafford has played particularly well against the Thunder since joining the Mavs, and he dropped 19 points and grabbed 15 rebounds in the most recent matchup. Chet Holmgren is the only elite rim protector on that roster, and the Mavs may just have the interior presence to give the Thunder a tough series.

Only time will tell who Dallas' first-round opponent is, but being graded as a "nightmare opponent" against the Thunder who are the No. 1 seed in the Western Conference is a big compliment.

For all the latest on Kyrie Irving, Luka Doncic, and the Dallas Mavericks this season, stay tuned.