The Dallas Mavericks, losers of four straight games, have slipped in the Western Conference standings and, as we pointed out Thursday, may fall from third to fourth in the playoff bracket. That would suit the fifth-seeded Denver Nuggets just fine, if you ask their head coach. Indeed, George Karl would rather his club face the Mavericks than the Oklahoma City Thunder.
“If we had to pick and choose on [our preferred playoff opponent], we would probably say 55 percent Dallas, 45 percent Oklahoma City, only because Oklahoma City is athletic like we are and they have two great players,” Karl said.
Generally, coaches and players in professional sports like to avoid saying they prefer facing a given team in the postseason. They’d rather not give anyone they slight any motivation.
Karl frames his remarks as complimenting Oklahoma City and respecting the problems their personnel present the Nuggets. But it’s hard to read what he said and come away without acknowledging the Mavericks aren’t at feared now as they were when they started the year with a 24-5 record.