Dallas Mavericks

Should NBA allow higher-seeded teams to choose their playoff opponents?

Should NBA allow higher-seeded teams to choose their playoff opponents?

No matter what format the NBA adopts if the decision is made to resume the 2019-20 season, it won't be fair to every team that comes back. 

Competitive equity is just not possible given the situation involving the COVID-19 pandemic. 

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One thing for the league to consider is how can they give the top seeds the advantage they deserve for having played so well during the regular season. The Los Angeles Lakers and Milwaukee Bucks lead their respective conferences, but they will not enjoy the benefit of homecourt advantage if the season returns at one central location. 

So, how can the league reward the higher-seeded teams? One option is allowing them to pick their playoff opponents. It would be a lot of fun and add some more drama/intensity to each series. Here's one format that NBC Sports' NBA insider Tom Haberstroh came up with in his latest column:

Reseed teams 1-through-16 (or 20 or 24) and let the higher-seeded teams (Nos. 1 through 8) choose their opponents in every round. 

The No. 1 seed would choose its opponent from a pool of the bottom half of the playoff field (eight teams in a 16-team playoff or 10 if the league decides to expand to 20 teams). The No. 2 seed would choose from the remaining teams and so on. You could broadcast the selections -- call it Selection Saturday if the NCAA doesn’t have rights to that as well -- in real-time, just like the NBA did for the All-Star draft.

“I absolutely love the idea,” said one Western Conference GM. “I love it now and I loved it then in the G League.”

So, if teams could choose their opponents, who should the Boston Celtics (the No. 5 seed in a 1-16 re-seeded format) want to play in Round 1? Haberstroh went with the Dallas Mavericks. 

The Celtics should be the loudest proponent of the pick-your-opponent format. If the league sticks with the traditional conference split for the playoffs, the third-seeded Celtics would, as of now, face the sixth-seeded Philadelphia 76ers. In a 1-through-16 format, as of now, the fifth-seeded Celtics would face ... the 12th-seeded Philadelphia 76ers. For a Celtics team that has lost three of the four games against Philly this season, that’d be a rough draw. 

The Mavericks figure to be an easier foe than the Sixers. The Celtics have won both matchups against Dallas this season, but Luka Doncic only played in one of those tilts. Kristaps Porzingis, who was still taking occasional games off to manage his injury recovery from a torn ACL, is one of those players I worry about when it comes to the long layoff and accelerated training camp. In the end, as long as the Celtics don’t draw Philly, it should be seen as a win.

Porzingis also has struggled mightily versus the Celtics in his career. He's averaged just 14.4 points and 6.6 rebounds per game, while shooting a disappointing 37.1 percent from the field and 23.8 percent from 3-point range in 12 career games against Boston. 

And, of course, it would be awesome to see Celtics forward Jayson Tatum and Mavericks guard Luka Doncic -- two of the best young players in basketball -- going head-to-head in the playoffs.

We still don't know what format the NBA will use if it comes back this season, but there are many different scenarios to consider, and having teams pick their postseason opponents is among the most exciting of those options.

Celtics-Mavericks Takeaways: Kemba Walker's big start (and finish), Grant Williams' effort boost C's

Celtics-Mavericks Takeaways: Kemba Walker's big start (and finish), Grant Williams' effort boost C's

We have seen the many sides of Kemba Walker’s game since he joined the Boston Celtics.

On Wednesday, it was "Bookend Kemba" who was at his best at the start of the game as well as at its conclusion, which ultimately slammed the door shut on any hopes of a Dallas comeback as Boston defeated the Mavericks, 109-103.

Walker led all scorers with 32 points, 16 in the first quarter and another 13 coming in the decisive fourth. 

The Celtics (18-7), looking to snap a two-game losing skid, desperately needed a big game from one of their core players. 

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When it mattered most, Walker was that guy. 

His scoring early in the game kept the Celtics within striking distance while many of his teammates struggled to knock down shots. 

Jaylen Brown (26 points) and  Jayson Tatum (24 points) carried much of the scoring load in the second and third quarters, setting Walker up to finish things off down the stretch. 

Here are some of the other takeaways the win in Dallas. 

GRANT WILLIAMS

We’re used to him contributing with hustle plays and screens and basically all the intangibles you can imagine. But a big 3-pointer in the second half (his second made 3 all season) followed moments later by a layup, would prove to be instrumental in Boston coming away with the win. 

Williams was just the latest Celtics player to make the most of an increased role due to injuries. 

“Grant had two big possessions in a row,” Brown told NBC Sports’ Abby Chin following the win. “We need all of those guys to be ready.”

FIRE AND ICE

Brown and Tatum delivered another strong game after a so-so start for both. 

Walker lit up the Mavs in the first quarter for 16 points. So as they began to double-team him quickly in the second and third quarters, that opened up opportunities for Brown and Tatum to put their imprint on the game. 

Brown had 26 points, 10 of which came in the second quarter. 

And Tatum, chipping in with 24 points, had nine that came in the third quarter.

Being able to effectively play off one another and Walker, was a huge factor in the win and it’ll continue to be important for this team as they continue to navigate their way through this regular season with the goal being to secure as high a playoff seed as possible.  

KENDRICK PERKINS

As entertaining as the Boston-Dallas game was on Wednesday, fans watching on NBC Sports Boston were treated to the musings of former Celtics big man Kendrick Perkins.

Perkins, who was on the call along with Kyle Draper and Brian Scalabrine, delivered a ton of one-liners - we’ll call them Perkisms - that were a big hit to those watching the broadcast who had plenty of positive comments on social media about Perkins’ uh, thoughts on the game. 

His running commentary on official Tony Brothers, who Perkins acknowledged at one point in the broadcast was someone he liked, drew plenty of feedback as well. 

“Tony Brothers gotta get his head into the game,” Perkins said. 

KRISTAPS PORZINGIS

After being held to just four points the last time these two played, Kristaps Porzingis looked more like Kristaps Porzingis in tallying a double-double of 23 points and 13 rebounds. 

It was a good performance, for sure. 

Still, the more you watched Porzingis play, the clearer it becomes that he’s a really good No. 2 option. But in the role of being the go-to guy all game, he and his team aren't nearly as good. 

That was where he was on Wednesday as the Mavericks were playing without MVP candidate Luka Doncic. 

No one should feel sorry for Dallas not having Doncic, especially against a Celtics team that was missing two of its top players (Marcus Smart and Gordon Hayward), as well as two of their three centers who are 6-foot-10 or taller. 

The 7-3 Porzingis didn’t fully take advantage of the height edge he had all game, in part because of Boston’s smaller defenders finding ways to keep Porzingis from getting the kind of deep post position he was looking for. 

He’s an exceptionally talented player, but the more you watch him play, the clearer it becomes that he’s at his best when he’s the next-best option rather than a No. 1. 

Don't miss NBC Sports Boston's coverage of Celtics-Pistons, which tips off Friday at 7 p.m. with Celtics Pregame Live, and then Mike and Tommy have the call at 7:30 p.m. You can also stream the game on the MyTeams App.

Celtics-Mavericks Instant Overreactions: A much-needed road win for C's

Celtics-Mavericks Instant Overreactions: A much-needed road win for C's

The Boston Celtics snapped their two-game losing skid on Wednesday night as they beat the Luka Doncic-less Dallas Mavericks, 109-103.

Here are three instant overreactions from the win, which brings the C's to 18-7 on the season:

1. This was a huge road win for the C's.

Verdict: Not an overreaction

Prior to Wednesday night's game, the Celtics were 0-6 on the road this season vs. teams currently in playoff contention. They've lost while visiting the 76ers, Kings, Clippers, Nuggets, Nets, and Pacers.

This victory vs. the Mavs got them off the schneid.

If Boston is to be taken seriously as a contender, it needs to show it can consistently beat the league's best in their own building. Through more than a quarter of the season, they've been unable to accomplish that. But this win certainly is a step in the right direction.

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2. OK, for real, it's time to pursue a trade for a big man.

Verdict: Overreaction

The Celtics' frontcourt situation got even worse with the injuries to Robert Williams and Vincent Poirier, but that doesn't mean it's time to make a panic move. Even if Kristaps Porzingis did just drop 23 points and bring down 13 boards against them.

Barring any surprises, there aren't going to be any answers to their problems on the thin trade market. At least, no answers that won't require a pretty penny, and the C's have made it clear they don't plan on moving any of their core wing players.

They're just going to have to get by with Daniel Theis, Enes Kanter, and their rookies until they finally get healthy.

3. Mavericks are legit contenders in the West.

Verdict: Slight overreaction.

The Mavs will be one of the top teams in the Western Conference all year long, and they're a team no one is going to want to draw in the playoffs. But even when Doncic returns, it's hard to imagine Dallas being a real threat to either Los Angeles team down the stretch.

They're more than capable of locking down a No. 3 or 4 seed, but think of the Mavericks as the Miami Heat of the West. They're extremely talented and not to be taken lightly, however, there just isn't enough firepower to compete with the true top dogs of the conference.

Forsberg: Walker eager to see what C's can do when healthy>>>

Don't miss NBC Sports Boston's coverage of Celtics-Pistons, which tips off Friday at 7 p.m. with Celtics Pregame Live, and then Mike and Tommy have the call at 7:30 p.m. You can also stream the game on the MyTeams App.