NBA news: Will the Dallas Mavericks become play-off dark horses?

The Dallas Mavericks are right in the mix for the third seed in the Western Conference, and should things go their way, there is a decent shot the Mavs could enjoy an eventful play-off run.

The Mavs are a middle-of-the-pack team offensively, but are top 10 when it comes to defence. That shouldn't come as a surprise, considering first-year head coach Jason Kidd made it a point to establish the Mavs as one of the best teams on that side of the floor upon taking the job. 

Everything in Dallas starts and ends with Luka Doncic. The Slovenian continues to thrive as one of the elite scorers and playmakers this league has to offer.

Although Doncic has yet to get out of the first round as a player, he kept the Mavs close with the Los Angeles Clippers both times these two teams met. He also had a game-winning shot at the buzzer in one of the play-off games down in the Orlando bubble back in 2020.

Doncic is a match up nightmare for opposing teams to defend. In Europe, there is no such thing as a three-second violation, so defenders could stay in the lane as long as they wanted to.

Dallas Mavericks guard Luka Doncic (77)

That is where Doncic had to dig deep into his bag of tricks to score, and that is a huge reason why he's just so hard to stop.

The Mavs have also created great spacing around Doncic with the likes of Jalen Brunson, Dorian Finney-Smith, Reggie Bullock, and Davis Bertans. All of them can take advantage of the gravity Luka attracts on the court.

The 23-year-old also runs the pick-and-roll very well with Dwight Powell, which opens up easy opportunities at the rim or attracts defenders inside, leaving guys out on the wings open for three.

Defensively, Finney-Smith, Bullock, and Powell can use their unique blend of toughness and length to guard multiple positions and contest shots and layup attempts at the rim.

Spencer Dinwiddie has been a nice addition to this team, as he helps run the second unit with his ability to score and make plays for others.

Potential play-off opponents

Luka Doncic #77 of the Dallas Mavericks

If Dallas steals the third seed, they'll likely face off against the Utah Jazz or Minnesota Timberwolves.

They'd likely make pretty quick work of the Jazz, given that they've fallen in the standings recently.

The Timberwolves however, would be an interesting match up given that Minnesota has been one of the hottest teams in the league and have their chemistry all on point.

Luka Doncic #77 of the Dallas Mavericks

If they stay locked into the fourth seed, they're likely to face the Denver Nuggets, as Nikola Jokic has been carrying the team all season long without Jamal Murray and Michael Porter Jr.

Denver may be their easiest opponent, as Jokic could only do so much against a great defence in a seven-game series, especially if he doesn't have anyone to help him.

The big question will become, will this team be good enough to take down the Phoenix Suns or Memphis Grizzlies? Time will tell.

READ MORE: NBA news: Are the Brooklyn Nets falling apart just before the play-offs start?

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