The Dallas Mavericks have been one of the most consistent teams in the NBA over the last decade and a half. The Mavericks have made the playoffs in 12 of their last 13 seasons, and are in the midst of making yet another postseason appearance this year. Dallas is currently in a three horse race for the final two playoff positions in the Western Conference.
The Mavs currently sit in seventh place in the Western Conference with a record of 46-31. They hold a 0.5 game edge over both the Memphis Grizzles and the Phoenix Suns, with just five games left to play in the NBA regular season.
The Mavericks have changed their roster drastically over the last few seasons, as Shawn Marion and Dirk Nowitzki are the only two remaining players from their 2011 championship team.
One of the biggest changes to this year’s Dallas Mavericks team has been the addition of Monta Ellis. After having a sub-par two season stint with the Milwaukee Bucks, the former Golden State Warrior has flourished under the system of Rick Carlisle and the Dallas Mavericks.
Throughout his career, Ellis has often been looked at as a scoring guard who lacked play making. While there was no doubt about his ability to score, Ellis was criticized for being a selfish player. This season, Ellis has blossomed into one of the best passer on the Mavericks, and he is leading the team in assists with 5.8 per game.
While developing into a playmaker for the Mavs, Ellis has maintained his scoring punch. Ellis is the team’s second leading scorer at 18.7 points per game, and has also played in all 77 of Dallas’ games this season. If the Mavericks are to hold on to their playoff spot and make a run in the postseason, Monta Ellis will need to continue to contribute at the level that he has been.
Player to Watch in the Playoffs
While Monta Ellis has had a terrific NBA regular season, as usual, the player the Mavericks will be counting on in the playoffs, is Dirk Nowitzki. The 2011 finals MVP has quietly had another stellar regular season, as he averaging 21.7 points per game, and is nearly shooting 50 percent from the field, 40 percent from beyond the arc, and 90% percent from the free throw line.
The 35-year-old Nowitzki recently passed Dominique Wilson for 11th place on the NBA’s all time scoring list and is not showing any signs of slowing down. During the Mavericks 2011 championship run, Nowitzki dominated throughout the playoffs and completely took over the NBA finals. If Dirk is able to play half as well he did in the 2011 playoffs, the Mavericks will have a good chance at making another deep run in the NBA postseason.
How Will Their Season End
The Mavericks current first round series would be against a familiar foe in the Oklahoma City Thunder. This series would be a rematch of the 2012 first round, which saw the Thunder sweep the Mavericks. While the Mavericks do have a strong roster this year, the Thunder would be a tough matchup for them in the first round.
While the Mavericks have Shawn Marion to at least try and guard Kevin Durant, they would struggle to contain Russell Westbrook. Jose Calderon is known more for his offensive playmaking ability rather than his defense. Expect a hard fought seven game opening round series, with the Thunder coming out on top.
With just a few games left in the NBA regular season, the final two playoff spots in the Western Conference are still up for grabs. Regardless of which teams make it to the postseason, in the always competitive Western Conference, any low seeded playoff team is capable of an upset in the first round.
Commentary By Eric Kummel