How Do Dallas Mavericks Matchup With East Playoff Teams?
How Do the Mavericks Match Up With the East?
The Dallas Mavericks had their worst season in over a decade last year. They failed to make the playoffs and failed win more games than they lost, something this team is not accustomed to.
Last week, I previewed the teams in the West that finished with a better record last year than the Mavericks. This time, I’ll do the same thing for the teams in the Eastern conference. Don’t worry, I’ll keep it much more concise this time.
The Eastern conference is a completely different beast than the Western conference, so it’s a bit difficult to directly compare. For the sake of this preview, I’ll say that teams that made the playoffs had a better year than the Mavericks, even though they may have had a worse record for the season.
It’s widely recognized that the West is the stronger conference of the two, but that is actually a bit misleading. The West is a much deeper conference, but the East still has top teams like the Miami Heat and Indiana Pacers, both of which were able to take care of the Western teams with effectiveness.
However, aside from the top few seeds in the East, the rest of the teams are really just not very good, as you’ll see from this preview. In fact, over half of the East teams had a losing record last year.
Click ahead to see how the Mavericks will stack up against the competition on the other side of the conference lines.
Miami Heat (66-16)
The Miami Heat are the Mavericks strongest rivals in the East. They retain their All-Star core of LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh. If Wade doesn’t perform better this year, their reign of terror could be over. On the other hand, if Greg Oden manages to make any kind of impact, they could be even more terrifying than anyone could have imagined.
New York Knicks (54-28)
To prove how much tougher the West is, the New York Knicks finished second in the East, but their record would only have been good enough for sixth in the West. Ex-Maverick Tyson Chandler is still holding down the paint for the Knicks, but the rest of the team seems iffy at best.
Indiana Pacers (49-33)
The Indiana Pacers may not have had the best regular season record, but they showed the league the blueprint for how to beat the Heat. Even though they didn’t quite pull it off, they took the Heat to Game 7 in the Eastern Conference Finals last year. On top of that, there are rumors that they could look to trade Danny Granger, which should be able to net them a quality piece in return.
Brooklyn Nets (49-33)
The Brooklyn Nets aren’t a bad team, but they never strike me as a very good team, either. They added proven veterans in Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce, but will that be enough to vault them to elite status in the East?
Either way, they’ll be interesting to watch if only because they hired former-Maverick Jason Kidd as their head coach the same season he retired.
Chicago Bulls (45-37)
Even though they were decent last year, the Chicago Bulls should be in much better shape this year, assuming Derrick Rose comes back 100 percent healed from his ACL tear. If the preseason is any indication (which it’s frequently not), Rose seems to be as good as ever.
Atlanta Hawks (44-38)
Replacing Josh Smith with Paul Millsap is no better than a wash for the Atlanta Hawks. Elton Brand, who was with the Mavericks last year, should be able to add some quality minutes from the bench. The most important player they added was former Mavericks guard Jared Cunningham.
Boston Celtics (41-40)
Technically, the Boston Celtics had a better record than the Mavericks, but they had the same amount of wins. One of their games was cancelled following the tragedy at the Boston Marathon, giving them an unusual record.
They’ve given away most of their good players, and appear to be in full-tank mode. General manager Danny Ainge will be hearing plenty of questions about the availability of Rajon Rondo. They will mostly likely be in the bottom of the East this season.
Milwaukee Bucks (38-44)
Finally, we have the Milwaukee Bucks. They made the playoffs despite having a losing record, something which virtually doesn’t happen in the West.
The Bucks lost two of their best players to the Mavericks. Both Monta Ellis and Samuel Dalembert made the switch. On the other hand, both O.J. Mayo and Caron Butler now play for the Bucks, but were Mavericks at one point.
All in all, the Mavericks should be good enough to be better than the Hawks and possibly the Knicks and Nets, depending on how their season plays out. There is no doubt that Dallas will greatly outperform the Bucks and the Celtics. Playing the East looks easier than it was last year.