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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2. Oklahoma City Thunder

After Dallas' 126-119 loss to the Thunder on Thursday evening, it's fairly easy to understand why the Mavericks can't take Oklahoma City's young roster lightly. Don't get it twisted, Dallas has their fairshare of matchup advantages against the Thunder when the Mavericks are fully healthy, but as we saw last night, the Thunder are extremely consistent and have an entourage of perimeter shooting and defense backing up the likes of Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Chet Holmgren, and Jalen Williams.

Dallas was without Luka Doncic last night, as the young superstar is dealing with a hamstring injury. The fact that Dallas stayed within striking distance of the Thunder without Doncic is commendable, in attacking but unfortunately there are no moral victories at this juncture of the season. Gilgeous-Alexander was unrelenting when he drew mismatches against Dallas defenders last night, as he is one of the only players in league whose pacing rivals that of Doncic on offense.

The Mavericks got a front row seat to just how multifaceted Oklahoma City's lineup is during last night's game, as nearly everyone in their main rotation can shoot, playmake, and defend behind Gilgeous-Alexander. Oklahoma City will be a tough matchup for anyone in the Western Conference in the first round, especially when you take into consideration that Jalen Williams and Holmgren have already ascended into number two and three options.

As we saw in Dallas' lone victory out of three games against the Thunder this season, the Mavericks have the ability to give Oklahoma City problems through their physicality on the interior. Dallas destroyed the Thunder in the paint in Dallas' first game after the trade deadline in which P.J. Washington and Daniel Gafford both played, so it wouldn't be surprising if Dallas made a playoff series versus the Thunder a competitive one, especially if Doncic were healthy and Washington didn't shoot as abnormally bad from the field as he did last night.

However, last night definitely was a queue for Dallas to get out of eighth seed as a means to avoid playing the current number one seeded Thunder in the first round, as the Thunder are too deep and consistent across the board to be the idealistic round one matchup for Dallas.