Dallas Mavericks: Who Should the Defending Champs Want to Play in First Round?

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Dallas Mavericks: Who Should the Defending Champs Want to Play in First Round?
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When Jason Terry was asked if Dallas' playoff seed mattered, he stated, "It doesn't matter at all," according to ESPN Dallas.

While that's a wise, professional statement by Terry, we all know it's not true. Matchups are as important as anything, especially for this year's Mavs, who clearly don't possess the same firepower as their squad that hoisted the Larry O'Brien Trophy just under a year ago.

What's crazy is that there are still five teams the Mavs could potentially play in the opening round. Let's go through them and analyze who the Mavs should ultimately want to battle.

San Antonio

While the Mavs are currently the No. 6 seed, there's still a chance they could dip into the eighth spot. They'd have to likely lose their remaining three games, which is possible with two of them on the road against high-quality opponents (Chicago, Atlanta).

While San Antonio did bow out of the playoffs in the first round last year, don't count on it this year. The Mavs should seek to avoid their Texas rivals, because they're healthy and have a bevy of contributors.

Oklahoma City

The Mavs beat the Thunder last year 4-1, but that won't happen again this year. Perhaps the Mavs can still beat them, but it would be a long, grueling series if it were to happen.

Honestly, it probably won't happen. The Thunder have another year of experience and the Mavs' legs are a year more rickety. Frankly, the Thunder might be a worse first-round draw than San Antonio.

Los Angeles Lakers

The Mavs disposed of the Lakers last year, sweeping them in emphatic fashion. It's safe to say the Lakers (namely Kobe Bryant) have too much pride to allow that to happen again.

They've actually already shown this during the regular season (the Mavs went 0-4 against the Lake Show). Therefore, while the Lakers may likely be the Mavs' first-round foes, Dallas should prefer to play the other squad from L.A.

Who should the Mavs want to play in the first round?

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Los Angeles Clippers

While the Clippers will not be an easy first-round opponent, they're more favorable than these other foes. Why's that? They're young and don't possess playoff experience together.

Dallas, on the other hand, is rich with playoff experience. This matchup has the potential to go seven games and it wouldn't be shocking to see the Mavs come out on top.

Memphis Grizzlies

This one is almost not even worth mentioning (which is why it's not in the poll!), because the cookie would have to crumble perfectly for the Mavs and Grizzlies to meet in the first round.

Truthfully, while playing the Grizz may seem more appealing than the other teams, one should think twice about such a presupposition. Memphis is deep and is now healthy and could be the dark horse of the Western Conference.

The Mavs definitely don't want their 2012 encore to be remembered by a first-round playoff exit, and a favorable matchup would undoubtedly help them on this quest. 

Based on this analysis, who do you think the Mavs should most desire to play? It's unlikely that their players will voice it, but we can surely get vocal about such things.

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