5 Ways the Dallas Mavericks Can Guarantee A First-Round Win

5 Ways Dallas Can Guarantee A First-Round Win

Dirk Nowitzki, Dallas Mavericks
Jerome Miron-USA Today Sports

The Dallas Mavericks had a storybook season, culminating in a playoff berth that many so-called NBA "pundits" believe would not happen. As it stands, the Cinderella Mavericks are heading into their first-round match-up against the No. 2 seeded Oklahoma City Thunder as a huge underdog. But the Mavericks can pull out a Texas-sized upset. Let's find out how.

5. Dirk Dominates His Match-Up Against Serge Ibaka

Dirk Nowitzki, Dallas Mavericks
Jerome Miron-USA Today Sports

5. Dirk Dominates His Match-Up Against Serge Ibaka

Dirk Nowitzki, Dallas Mavericks
Jerome Miron-USA Today Sports

There is no question that Dirk Nowitzki took a sip from the fountain of youth and looked like the "old" Nowitzki that we all know and love. If the Mavs are going to pull out an upset over the Thunder, the big German must continue his dominating play to neutralize the presence of Oklahoma City's Serge Ibaka.

4. Jose Calderon Must Slow Down Westbrook

Jose Calderon, Dallas Mavericks
Russell Isabella-USA Today Sports

4. Jose Calderon Must Slow Down Westbrook

Jose Calderon, Dallas Mavericks
Russell Isabella-USA Today Sports

Jose Calderon has been a godsend for the Mavericks at point guard, which was a major reason why the Mavs were out of the playoffs last year. But a big downside is that Calderon is a horrible one-on-one defender, and gets the impossible task of trying to stay step-for-step with Russell Westbrook. It is imperative for the Mavs' upset hopes that Calderon does not get dominated in this series.

3. Vince Carter Must Be the X-Factor

Vince Carter, Dallas Mavericks
Jerome Miron-USA Today Sports

3. Vince Carter Must Be the X-Factor

Vince Carter, Dallas Mavericks
Jerome Miron-USA Today Sports

We all know Dirk and Monta Ellis are going to bring it, but the one player who could be the X-factor for the Mavs is Vince Carter. He has to be the third wheel in the Mavs offense in order for Dallas to put the Thunder behind them in round one.

2. The Mavs' Bench Must Produce

Devin Harris, Dallas Mavericks
Jerome Miron-USA Today Sports

2. The Mavs' Bench Must Produce

Devin Harris, Dallas Mavericks
Jerome Miron-USA Today Sports

The Mavericks' bench cannot be missing in action against the Thunder. They simply cannot. The Mavs' spare parts bench has been one of the most productive in the NBA this season, and it must continue that production on both the offensive and defensive ends against Oklahoma City. If it can, the Mavs have an excellent shot at killing the Thunder title dreams.

1. Monta Ellis Must Come Up Big

Monta Ellis, Dallas Mavericks
Jerome Miron-USA Today Sports

1. Monta Ellis Must Come Up Big

Monta Ellis, Dallas Mavericks
Jerome Miron-USA Today Sports

When Monta Ellis is playing for a winner, he usually responds with big seasons. Ellis is going to have to play big against the Thunder if the Mavs have any chance of sending Kevin Durant and crew home for the summer.

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