The Dallas Mavericks are locked in a tight playoff race in the Western Conference. Just three games separate fifth and 13th with one month left in the regular season. Only two of those nine teams will advance directly to the playoffs. The teams that finish seventh through tenth will head to the Play-In Tournament, and the bottom three miss the postseason.
The Mavs are currently tied for seventh, but just 0.5 games behind fifth. They are 1.5 games up on ninth and 2.5 ahead of 11th on the morning of March 9. Dallas has 15 games remaining, and they could finish anywhere from fifth to 13th, depending on their play down the stretch.
Luka Doncic and Kyrie Irving will likely lead the Mavericks to the playoffs. They are two of the top 20 players in the world, but Dallas will not be satisfied by just qualifying. The Mavs want to make a deep postseason run. Matchups matter in the playoffs, and here are three teams Dallas is hoping to avoid in the first round.
Why Dallas Mavericks want to avoid Denver Nuggets in the 1st round of the 2023 NBA Playoffs
By now, fans know how the Mavericks are going to play. They changed some things with the addition of Kyrie Irving, but head coach Jason Kidd wants to play small and his team is going to shoot a ton of 3-pointers. Dallas will struggle on the glass and to protect the rim, but they will be difficult to stop offensively.
The Mavs' weakest link is in the middle. They will start Dwight Powell, but Maxi Kleber figures to play the majority of the minutes at the five if he is healthy in the postseason. Dallas has no answers for a massive center that can punish them in the post.
The Denver Nuggets are the projected top seed and the reigning two-time MVP is one of the most talented big men of all time. No player posts up more than Nikola Jokic, and he scores 1.19 points per possession on those plays. Dallas has no answers for The Joker, and stopping the Nuggets would be nearly impossible.
Playing Denver also means that the Dallas Mavericks would have to go through the Play-In Tournament and face the Nuggets in the Mile High City. Those are not challenges the Mavs want in the opening round of the playoffs.