3 teams the Dallas Mavericks must avoid in the first round of the playoffs

Golden State Warriors v Dallas Mavericks
Golden State Warriors v Dallas Mavericks / Tim Heitman/GettyImages
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The Dallas Mavericks are in the midst of their most crucial juncture of the season, as they are currently the eighth seed in the Western Conference with 15 games remaining in the regular season. The Mavericks have picked up their intensity on both sides of the ball recently, and some changes in the rotation by Mavericks head coach Jason Kidd helped propel Dallas to a four-game winning streak before Thursday's loss to Oklahoma City.

This has put the Mavericks in a position to rise in the standings, as their hopes of getting out of play-in territory started to look bleak when the Mavericks lost five out of seven contests coming out of the All-Star break.

While the Mavericks have taken care of business lately, they haven't had the toughest strength of schedule. However, Dallas is set to have multiple matchups against top eight-seeded Western Conference opponents in their remaining 15 games, so we'll certainly start to get an idea of how competitive the Mavericks can be in the playoffs during this final stretch.

3 teams the Dallas Mavericks must avoid in the first round of the playoffs

The Mavericks must do everything in their power to escape play-in territory and get as far up in the standings as possible, as drawing any of the Western Conference's top teams could lead to an early exit for Dallas in the playoffs. With that being said, here are three teams the Mavericks need to avoid in the first round of the playoffs.

Honorable Mention: Minnesota Timberwolves

Despite currently sitting at third place in the Western Conference, the Minnesota Timberwolves are showing some vulnerability as they approach the playoffs. Timberwolves' big-man Karl-Anthony Towns recently underwent a procedure to repair a lateral meniscus tear in his left knee, an injury that will likely keep him out for the rest of the regular season as well as potentially some games during the playoffs.

However, the Timberwolves are extremely versatile from top to bottom, and they still maintain the best defensive rating in the NBA at 108.3. The Timberwolves are 2-2 ever since Karl-Anthony Towns got injured, but Anthony Edwards seems to have kicked himself into another gear on both sides of the ball ever since the Towns injury.

The Mavericks went 1-3 against Minnesota this season, but all four games that the two squads played against each other were before the trade deadline. Dallas has much better positional size and defense in their front-court now, so Minnesota may not be the worst matchup in round one when you take into consideration their lack of playoff experience as a group as well as the Towns injury.

The Mavericks can't make the make the mistake of underestimating Minnesota's stifling defense though, and would need to prepare thoroughly if they drew them as a matchup in the first round of the playoffs.