I’ll be here tomorrow looking back at the Mavericks’ season so far and ahead to the first round of the playoffs. But first, there is one more game to play, tonight, against a “San Antonio” “Spurs” squad that will not feature a single starter or player of any real consequence. I don’t remember all the scenarios in play, but the team could finish as high as No. 5 (which would mean facing the Los Angeles Clippers) or as low as No. 7 (and play the actual Spurs).
So, real fast, who would you rather have the Mavs’ first round opponent?
If you are a fan of narrative, you definitely want Mavs/Clippers. On the court, the Mavs haven’t managed much against LA. I feel like every game has been: good first half, garbage third quarter, largely irrelevant fourth. And the Clippers are probably the most irritating team in the league, with Chris Paul playing with a copy of the rulebook tucked in his shorts, Blake Griffin staring down anyone who ever even kind of touches him, cool youth pastor J.J. Redick just being himself, and Doc Rivers chewing the scenery on the sidelines. That’s just for a start. They do have Jamal Crawford, who plays exactly like everyone plays in their dreams, with raindrop-conjuring threes and crossovers you can’t even properly figure out after 1,000 Vine loops. He’s not near enough to counterbalance the rest of it, though. At least they don’t have Matt Barnes anymore.
But given everything that happened this offseason between the two teams, this matchup makes the most sense in a Ridiculous Movie Script sense. As a fan of ridiculous movie scripts, this appeals to me. I mean, I probably will be tired of that whole thing being rehashed by sometime in the second quarter of Game 2, so I reserve the right to scream-type complaints into Twitter when that time inevitably comes.
If you want awesome basketball, then you probably should be rooting for Mavs/Thunder. Two superstars — Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook — in their prime, both healthy. One (KD) somehow underrated at the moment, with most attention rightly on Steph Curry and the Warriors; the other (Russ) a triple-double machine who plays every game like he’s wearing some ridiculous rocket-powered contraption from ACME. You don’t get a chance to see that in a concentrated dose, so that would be great. I don’t think the Mavs have enough to really keep them both in check, but I’d love to see them try.
Somewhere in between, is Mavs/Spurs. Narratively, I mean, come on — you know this. Spurs v. Mavs again. Dirk and Duncan, again. Pop and Carlisle. Cuban against the River Walk. And in terms of beautiful basketball, it’s up there. The Spurs aren’t the precisely designed passing machine they were for the past few years. The game they play now is sort of old-fashioned — centering on Kawhi Leonard’s superhero defense and sturdy offense and new add (and Seagoville High great) LaMarcus Aldridge’s cool midrange mastery– and it’s maybe the fourth time (at least) the coach Greg Popovich has completely rethought the team’s identity without even a hitch in its collective step. The Spurs are a fence at Disney World that is continuously repainted, workers starting at the beginning as soon as they get to the end. It has gone on forever. It will never be over. So, this would be fine. But we’ve done this, you know?
I guess I’m leaning toward Mavs/Clippers. What about you?