We’re going deep into the 2020/21 NBA season and, with May having arrived, the playoffs are next. The postseason officially begins on May 18th with the play-in rounds while the playoffs themselves take over three days later.
One franchise who look set to progress beyond the regular season are the Dallas Mavericks. It’s been a productive campaign to date for head coach Rick Carlisle and his side but just how deep can those Mavericks go?
After the first 64 games of the regular season, standings show that Dallas Mavericks sat in a comfortable sixth place in the Western Conference. Those 64 matches had produced a record of 36 wins and 28 losses and the side has a significant gap over the Memphis Grizzlies who occupied the final playoff slot at that time.
Dallas’ record should be enough to see them claim the South West Divisional title. Carlisle’s men are clear at the top with the Grizzlies, and their 32-31 record, down in second place. This would be an achievement in itself with the Mavericks last winning the division back in 2010 but owner Mark Cuban and all those involved in the franchise will be anxious to take that success a step further.
An Upset Required
While that playoff place looks assured, few observers are giving the Mavericks any chance of claiming the biggest prize at the end of the season. While the NBA playoffs odds markets have been taking center stage for the past few weeks, it’s time to look ahead to the outright championship options where Dallas are way down the list.
While the Brooklyn Nets are hot favorites to win the pennant at odds of around +250, the Mavericks are as high as +25000 in places. The sportsbooks have effectively written off Rick Carlisle’s roster but is there any chance of an upset?
Luka Looking for Ultimate Prize
Dallas Mavericks’ young Point Guard Luka Doncic didn’t take the regular route into the NBA. The trend for relying on College Draft Picks is evident in some franchises but the Mavericks clearly like to scour more widely for their talent.
Having impressed in Europe with Real Madrid, Doncic was traded by Dallas as a 19 year old in 2018. Since then, the Slovenian has been named in two consecutive All Star teams and was handed the Rookie of the Year award in 2019.
He’s been a productive signing and Doncic has been driving Dallas towards the playoffs for much of the season. At the start of May, the 22 year old returned two 30 point games in two days against the Wizards and the Kings and that return sums up his campaign.
At the end of that two-game sequence, Doncic stood in fourth place in average points scoring while ranking in third for average assists. His value cannot be overstated and, if on form, the Point Guard can make sure that the Mavericks go deep into the playoffs.
The Supporting Cast
An encouraging point for Mavericks fans is the fact that their team has gained momentum during the latter half of the season. That is due, in part, to the fact that three key starters were forced to sit out the opening stages due to protocols.
Josh Richardson, Dorian Finney-Smith and Maxi Kelber were all missing from the early rounds and it’s no coincidence that Dallas began slowly in their absence. All three have since been fully restored to the roster and will be vital to the Mavericks’ chances as they move into the playoffs.
To bolster their squad, Dallas gained some useful experience when they picked up JJ Redick in March. He’s yet to make a major mark on the campaign but, at 36, that vast experience could prove vital in tight playoff contests.
One potential issue for the Dallas Mavericks in the postseason is the loss of home court advantage. In all probability, the side will finish in sixth place and that is likely to set up a tough away fixture at one of the top sides in the Conference.
We’ll soon know the Mavericks fate with the draw ready to be confirmed as soon as the remaining regular season games have come to their natural conclusion. If they do finish in sixth, that first playoff match will be crucial. It will be the toughest game in the Western section but if Dallas were to win it, the path to the finals will provide less competitive opposition.
Can they pull it off?
The destination of the 2021 NBA Championship is far from being a foregone conclusion. Dallas Mavericks proved that point earlier in the campaign when they beat tournament favorites the Brooklyn Nets by the comfortable scoreline of 115-98.
Luka Doncic played a starring role in that victory and the young Slovenian will be crucial to the Mavericks in the postseason. No team can rely solely on one man but his stats are stunning and Dallas won’t get anywhere if he isn’t fully firing.
The supporting cast will be pivotal too and, like all franchises, Dallas will need to avoid injuries as much as possible as they go deep into the season. The odds are against them but, if they can overcome those early playoff rounds, the Dallas Mavericks have the quality in their roster that could yet see them lift the trophy.