3 teams Mavericks want to avoid in 1st round of 2023 NBA Playoffs

Dallas Mavericks, Luka Doncic
Dallas Mavericks, Luka Doncic / Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports
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LA Clippers present a difficult challenge for Dallas Mavericks in 1st round of 2023 NBA Playoffs

The Mavericks have tangled with the Clippers in the first round of the playoffs twice in the last three years, and Kawhi Leonard and company won both meetings. It was a 2-2 series in the bubble, but Kristaps Porzingis’ season-ending knee injury swayed things in LA’s favor. The Mavs were in control one year later before Kawhi went nuclear to lift the Clippers in seven games.

Health is a massive factor in this series. Fans have barely seen the best of the Clippers this season because of injuries. If LA is healthy, they are one of the deepest teams in the league, and head coach Tyronn Lue is a master at making adjustments.

The Clippers will also out small ball the Mavericks. They will build lineups with five switchable defenders on the floor that can make life difficult for Luka Doncic and Kyrie Irving. Leonard, Paul George, Nicolas Batum, Terrance Mann, and Marcus Morris Sr. present a scary group that could give Dallas fits on both ends of the floor.

Kawhi’s ability to take over games makes the Clippers even more dangerous. There are not many players that can raise their level to the best player on the floor when Luka Doncic is out there, but the five-time All-Star is one of them. It would be a nervy first-round matchup for both teams that neither is rooting for.