George Karl: Nuggets Prefer to Face Mavs Over Thunder in Playoffs

No one ever seems to have any respect (or fear) for Dallas come Playoff time, and that apparently includes lower-seeded teams. ESPN reports: “If the Western Conference works out the way the Denver Nuggets want, they’ll open the playoffs against the Dallas Mavericks. After losing to the Nuggets on Wednesday night, the Mavericks are only one game ahead of the Oklahoma City Thunder for the third seed in the West with four regular-season games remaining. As a division champion, the Thunder would have the tiebreaker despite losing the season series to Dallas. ‘If we had to pick and choose on it, 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, Denver coach George Karl [said], referring to Thunder forward Kevin Durant and point guard Russell Westbrook. ‘They have two All-Stars who are really in their prime and have never won on the playoff stage. I just think right now our speed might have more effect against Dallas than it will against Oklahoma City.’ The Mavericks, who have lost their last four games and are 8-9 since a 21-1 run, are slumping as the postseason approaches. Dallas has lost its last nine games against West playoff teams. ‘I personally like to be in a better mode of winning more games than probably Dallas,’ Karl said. ‘I like winning to be your partner going into the playoffs. Some coaches don’t, but I personally think you don’t have to win every game, but you want to be at least in a winning mode. I will give the benefit of the doubt that the Mavericks are a veteran, older team that understands the playoffs. I think they’ll be energized for the playoffs.’ The Nuggets defeated the Mavericks in five games during the second round of the 2009 playoffs. Denver won this season’s series, 3-1.”