The Dallas Mavericks, in a season filled with low points, have reached their nadir this past weekend. Needing every win to keep up in the competitive Western Conference playoff picture, the stage was set for the Mavs to claim two easy victories with two consecutive matchups against the second-worst team in the Eastern Conference, the Charlotte Hornets.

However, even with Luka Doncic and Kyrie Irving on the active roster, the Mavs proceeded to crap the bed, losing both of their contests against the Hornets to knock them to the 11th spot in the conference — far from ideal, with two weeks to go before the play-in tournament commences.

The slate isn't about to get any easier for the Mavs either; their next five contests are against teams that are, more or less, either safely in the playoffs (Philadelphia 76ers, Sacramento Kings) or battling hard for playoff positioning (Golden State Warriors, Miami Heat, and Chicago Bulls).

Of course, missing the 2023 NBA playoffs would be a disaster for a Mavs team that swung a blockbuster trade for Kyrie Irving prior to the trade deadline. That would certainly constitute Mavs fans', Luka Doncic's, and Mark Cuban's worst nightmares.

Even then, not all hope is lost. Following the Mavs' win over the Indiana Pacers on Monday night, they still sit within striking distance of the Oklahoma City Thunder and Los Angeles Lakers for the final play-in spots.

But the road will only get more difficult from there. Here is the Mavs' nightmare seeding scenario and matchup for the 2023 NBA playoffs.

Mavs' nightmare seeding scenario: Squeak into the play-in as the 10th seed, face the Los Angeles Lakers

When (or if) they manage to shake off their brutal losses against the Hornets and regain their standing as a play-in team (at the very least), that's when they should worry about whichever team they would face in the play-in tournament. However, some teams loom as more dangerous matchups than others. And there seems to be a sleeping giant in the play-in tournament in the new-look Los Angeles Lakers.

Sure, the Mavs have won the season series over the Lakers, 3-1, after a huge win in mid-March despite Luka Doncic's absence following a memorable game-winner from Maxi Kleber. Nevertheless, in a knockout game, facing a team led by the NBA's all-time leading scorer LeBron James and his sidekick, Anthony Davis, will be far from an ideal scenario for any team, much less the Mavs.

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In particular, the Mavs' interior defense is far from the best, and they don't necessarily have a lockdown defender at the point of attack. Thus, it's not too difficult to envision James and Davis having carte blanche in the Mavs paint, especially with their improved spacing following the arrivals of D'Angelo Russell and Malik Beasley.

Of course, this matchup will be extremely fun to watch for a fan with no dog in the fight. A Luka Doncic-LeBron James matchup? Yes please.

But for the Mavs' sake, they may prefer to face the Oklahoma City Thunder or New Orleans Pelicans in a potential 9/10 matchup. That's not being disrespectful to those teams; but if given the choice between facing LeBron/AD, Brandon Ingram/CJ McCollum, and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander/Josh Giddey, the first option definitely stands out as the most daunting one of them all.

Nightmare first-round matchup: N/A (just get to the first-round)

At this point, the Mavs cannot afford to be picky when it comes to their potential matchup in the first round of the 2023 NBA playoffs. They lost that luxury when they blew two winnable games against the Hornets.

Moreover, there are no easy matchups in the Western Conference. None. Mavs fans could argue that facing the Memphis Grizzlies would be their best-case scenario, since Doncic has gone 8-3 against them for his career. Doncic's ability to create and make difficult shots on the perimeter has always made him a difficult cover for the likes of Dillon Brooks and Desmond Bane.

However, the Grizzlies lead the league in paint points for the season; Ja Morant's slashing ways should allow Memphis to carve up Dallas' floundering defense more often than not, making them a difficult matchup regardless of past outcomes. Meanwhile, the Denver Nuggets have Nikola Jokic. Enough said.

Given how nightmarish the Mavs' season has turned out following the Irving trade (8-13 since February 9), however, the Mavs brass should not be counting their chickens before they hatch and focus on just making it into the postseason dance to avoid considerable embarrassment, especially after swinging for the fences on a mercurial point guard who could very well leave the team with nothing in free agency.