It’s comes a little earlier than I am accustomed to and thankfully it isn’t a false start like last year. It’s that time again to find out how we have to manage the six months of our lives ruled by Dallas Mavericks basketball. I think it’s very exciting to see the roadmap this new look Mavericks team will travel in their efforts to come together. So let’s dig in…
The season starts with some pop as the Mavs travel to Hollywood to play the Lakers for the second game of the opening-night TNT doubleheader. That doesn't just mean Kobe anymore; now it means Steve Nash, too.
That’s one of 8 TNT appearances with six of them TNT exclusive broadcasts and we’ll broadcast along side on Fox Sports Southwest on Dec 6 in Phoenix and Jan 31 at Golden State. The TV suits are putting Dallas on nationally a total of 23 times between TNT, ABC, ESPN & NBATV.
After opening at the Lakers, the Mavs venture to Utah for a Halloween night affair against the Jazz in that team's season opener. And then we start the home portion of the schedule on Saturday night November 3rd versus Charlotte. (Brendan Haywood's return to town might not be anticipated as others, but, that's the night.)
The Mavs are looking at an early home schedule that could afford them a shot for the new team to get out of the gates strong. From the home opener through November 24th, the Mavs play 8 of 12 at home with the first six of those home games against lottery teams from last season. Hopefully they can use that schedule to propel them to a good start because they soon after will "pay the piper'' of scheduling.
After that stretch the Mavs will play 11 of their next 15 on the road with only 4 home games between the 1st of December and Christmas.
Once 2013 comes around the Mavs have some very favorable home stretches, with 6 of 7 at AAC in mid-to-late January, a run of 7 of 8 at home in February, and 8 of 9 at home in the back half of March which includes a season long 6-game homestand against Brooklyn, Boston, Utah, the Clippers, Indiana and Chicago.
Of course, the long stretches at home are broken up with some tough road trips, as in the mathematical second half of the season Dallas has three separate four-game road swings.
The last of those three trips will take Dallas to the Lakers, Nuggets, Kings and Blazers in the first week of April before coming home to play 4 of their last 5 games of the year in front of the Rowdy, Proud & Louds at AAC, culminating with an April 17th close against New Orleans.
If memory serves, the Mavs will make it five times to end the season on their home floor between 2008-13 with three of those home games against the Hornets.
Perhaps the end of the season will be a chance for a good push into the playoffs for positioning and momentum. The Mavericks host 12 of their last 18 games, with only 5 of those 18 games against teams who reached at least the conference semifinals last year. However by then we’ll have to judge those teams on what they are accomplishing this season, but there is a least hope that the Mavs could have a favorable stretch-run schedule.
Based on caliber of opponent, if I were to identify a really tough stretch check out the 8 games between Dec. 20th and Jan. 2nd - two vs. defending champ Miami, two w/ rival San Antonio plus games at Oklahoma City and Memphis and a home game with Denver on the 2nd night of a back to back. The “easiest” game of the stretch is even a little weird with the odd early evening game at Washington on New Years’ Day.
A rundown of the must-see home games for you guys: the Lake Show is here Nov. 24 and Feb 24. West champs OKC will visit on Jan. 18 and March 17. San Antone comes to town on Dec. 30 and Jan. 25 and the Clippers - and everyone’s one and only chance to give Lamar Odom the "Kiki Vandeweghe Treatment'' - are here on March 26.
From the East, the hated Heat are here on Dec. 20, Jet and the C’s are in on March 22nd and the Knicks visit on Nov. 21st.
With an 82-game schedule back comes a reminder that the layout is 4 games against your division foes, 4 games against 6 of the other West teams and 3 games against the 4 other West squads. Dallas is playing the Clippers, Jazz, Nuggets and Warriors only 3 times. With the Clippers (as noted in the last paragraph) and Utah only coming to Dallas once. It’s also back now to playing each Eastern Conference team twice, once each home and away.
With the average age of the roster having dropped from well over 30 to a skosh over 28, the back-to-backs aren’t quite as much of a potential landmine. But still ... the fewer the better. Nothing, of course, will compete with last season’s insanely compressed schedule and this year the pendulum has swung back the other way. Dallas plays only 16 sets of back-to-backs and one of the dreaded 4 games in 5 nights, March 14th-18th. For comparison Dallas played 22 sets of back-to-backs last year in the 66 game season.
I would guess the 16 back-to-backs is one of the lower totals in the league.
So that’s the path we will set out on three months from now. At this point there are probably more questions than answers but I’m intrigued about the team and season. After the disappointment of D-Will, the Mavs bounced back about as well as anyone could have hoped in terms of the roster they were able to put together under the oft-stated parameters and restrictions of, wait for it ... Dry Powder!
Who knows how it will all come together and look on the floor and in the standings but I’m optimistic it will be good, entertaining and winning basketball. Of course ultimately as with all of these kind of things, time will tell.
Myself, Fish, Harp, Skin, Bob, & the others in the ensemble look forward to bringing it your way again this year on Fox Sports Southwest.
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