There’s no doubt in Nuggets Nation who we’d prefer our Nuggets to face in the first round of the playoffs. But do the Mavericks want to play the Nuggets just as badly?

My co-writer and co-conspirator Jeff Morton sent me the following text message after the first quarter of Wednesday night's Nuggets versus Mavericks game: "I think the Mavs are tanking this game. No Kidd. No Chandler. Dirk only played 6 minutes."

Sensing something didn’t seem right with the Mavericks, I called Jeff after the game and asked him if he/we indeed thought the Mavericks threw this game away. After all, it’s hard to imagine why the aging-not-so-gracefully Mavericks would want to play the young, deep, upstart Nuggets in the first round of the playoffs, which is exactly what will happen should the Mavericks drop to the fourth seed. This is a Nuggets team, mind you, that was able to win in Dallas with and without Carmelo Anthony this season and in recent seasons past.

But after seeing the Mavericks put up a spirited second half fight with veterans Dirk Nowitzki, Jason Terry, Brendan Haywood and Shawn Marion logging over 30 minutes of playing time apiece, Jeff and I concluded that it’s hard to argue that the Mavericks gave a half-effort against the Nuggets.

That doesn't answer the real question, though: is it possible that the Mavericks would prefer to draw Denver in Round 1?

It is possible, and here’s why: the Mavericks are deathly afraid of playing the Lakers in Round 2, the Mavericks’ likely second round opponent should they hold onto the three-seed.

In their last two meetings (once in Dallas, once in Los Angeles), the Lakers punished the Mavericks. As we all know, the Lakers feast on teams with slow point guards (read: Kidd, Jason) and struggle mightily against little, quick dynamo guards like Ty Lawson and Raymond Felton. Plus the Lakers’ size can handle Nowitzki’s offensive repertoire. So it’s not a stretch to assume the Mavericks would prefer to battle the Spurs – their well known division and state rival – should they make it to the playoffs’ second round. But then again, the Mavericks haven’t exactly played great against the Spurs this season, either, losing three of four meetings.

And thus, I’m not exactly sure who Dallas would prefer to play in Rounds 1 and 2 of the playoffs. All four possible Maverick opponents – the Lakers, Spurs, Trail Blazers and Nuggets – have had no trouble beating the Mavericks in 2010-11.

Perhaps the Mavericks should stop worrying about playoff seeding and just get back to winning basketball games, something they haven't done in four straight tries. 

But should the Mavericks tank their way into a four-seed by season's end, no one in Nuggets Nation will be complaining.


On to the links…

StatsCube: The Case for Karl ” | Hang Time Blog
John Schuhmann brings up a fascinating statistic that even I didn’t know: “…with the Nuggets original roster, Karl coached the No. 1 offense in the league. With a completely different kind of roster since the trade, Karl is coaching the No. 1 defense in the league.” I know who’s getting my vote for Coach of the Year.

King George
Mile High Sports' Eric Goodman presents his case for Coach Karl to claim the 2010-11 COY Award.

Mavs hope to move past playoff failures – NBA – Yahoo! Sports
The Mavs have lost in the first round in three of the past four years. Is this team built to have postseason success? 

Whats the role of media for sports teams ? " blog maverick
Mark Cuban writes at length about who can and who can't cover the Mavericks from inside the locker room.

NBA: Ranking the worst playoff matchups for each conference's Finals contenders – ESPN
Tom Haberstroh identifies playoff kryptonite for the league's Finals contenders, ranking the toughest potential playoff matchups for each team.

Kiszla: Sound of Thunder too much to bear? – The Denver Post
Is Mark Kiszla jumping off the Nuggets bandwagon already?

Denver Nuggets point guards Ty Lawson and Raymond Felton have both played well lately | All Things Nuggets 
Coach Karl talks to Roy Williams about who’s better: Nuggets’ Ty Lawson or Raymond Felton?

OKC Thunder vs Denver Nuggets: Three Lingering Thoughts – Welcome to Loud City
Loud City’s “Dogburt” serves up his post-Nuggets versus Thunder ruminations.