Dallas Mavericks: 5 Reasons the Defending Champs Will Be Postseason Team to Beat
With the season more than halfway over with, the Dallas Mavericks are looking to continue their streak of 12 straight seasons of making the playoffs. With their fair share of skeptics, the Mavs seem to have their odds against them when the postseason arrives in April.
Here are five reasons why the Mavericks will not flunk out of the playoffs early, but will be the team to beat in the Western Conference.
They're Playing Great Defense
As many of you may know, it takes four wins to take a seven-game series. A team that can play great defense on a night-to-night basis makes it hard to lose games even if you do not have point production.
That is the type of basketball the Mavericks have been playing this season.
The Mavs are giving up 91.4 points per game this season (good for fifth in the NBA), and have only given up 100 or more points six times this season. If the Mavs can keep teams under 100 points on most nights come playoff time, they will be very hard to beat in a seven-game series.
Dirk Has Some Tricks Up His Sleeve
The NBA is mostly based on who can match up with who. If a team has someone who is simply too tough for opponents to defend, it will create huge problems.
This was a good reason why Dirk Nowitzki was so successful in the playoffs last season for the Mavericks. Teams would be throwing their best post defender at him every night, only to see them fall at the hands of Nowitzki and his deadly fade-away jumper.
If he could even come close to the production he was getting in last years' playoffs, Dallas will be a very tough out. Rick Carlisle has slowly been increasing Nowitzki's minutes to get him geared up for the postseason, as his points per game have been increasing accordingly.
It's not a stretch to say that the big German may have another big playoff run left in him.
They May Not Make a Deadline Deal
The time is coming closer and closer, and the Mavericks seem less likely to make a deadline deal than ever, as Mark Cuban has recently said to ESPN.com that he's not looking to make a trade but will listen to offers.
That kind of talk could be interpreted in many ways. Cuban could be bluffing, but if he is not, and thinks his team can handle the rest of the year without additional help, then more power to the front office.
The team has meshed together pretty well so far this year, so disrupting the chemistry may be the last thing Dallas needs at this point in the season. Some of the drama involving Lamar Odom may be considered a distraction, but that seems to be cleared up now.
If it isn't, they could deal him some place for another solid bench player who could contribute, but keeping the core intact seems to be the direction Cuban intends to go.
The Bench Can Only Improve
It is the time of year when Jason Terry sees his usual increase in minutes, as he chipped in 37 minutes (as well as 18 points) against the Thunder on Monday. Terry will always be productive off the bench, but the key to the Mavs playoff success will be how well the big guys play off the bench.
Brendan Haywood sprained his ankle Monday against the Thunder, and should only miss a few games because of it, leaving Ian Mahinmi to resume his role off the bench for now.
Mahinmi, Lamar Odom, and Brandan Wright all make solid front-court players coming off the bench, and Brian Cardinal can hit from beyond the arch.
The bench was crucial in last year's playoff run, and if Roddy Beaubois can contribute like JJ Barea did last year, they could be just as dangerous again.
Carlisle Isn't Finished Yet
Rick Carlisle appears to have the team that he thinks is needed to succeed in the playoffs. The fourth-year Mavericks coach has done a good job this year regulating his aging players' minutes and keeping their legs fresh.
The Mavs couldn't ask for anyone better to coach their squad, as Carlisle seems to have the way he plays his players down to a science.
Carlisle will have the rotation set in place by the end of the year, just in time to make a run at another championship.