Annually, on the day the NBA schedule would be released, ex-Mavs coach Dick Motta would famously say, 'Amazing! 41 at home 41 and on the road!' And it's undeniably true. Still, there aren’t some interesting aspects of the Mavs' 2013-14 schedule - the potential opportunities and pitfalls. So, here we go.
Overall, I don’t think it’s a very easy schedule for your Dallas Mavericks, starting with the first 10 days of the season that include the first of two four-games-in-five-nights stretches of the season.
(You can see the whole Mavs schedule and discuss it here on DB.com Boards.)
There will be six games (ATL, @HOU, MEM, LAL, @OKC, @MIN, @MIL), that feature five playoff teams from last year, and the one team that didn’t make it (T-Wolves) who figure to be much improved from last year given significantly improved health. There are three back-to-backs in that time, with only opening night against the Hawks as a stand-alone game. With as many new people as the Mavericks will be trying to work in, it would be tough under any circumstance, but the quality of opposition makes it even more so.
The most telling stretch though will come when the Mavericks play a record eight straight at home from March 17-April 1. Prior to that stretch, the Mavericks will have played 12 out of 18 on the road. Long home stands can be a blessing (You’re in your own bed for two weeks) or a curse (You’re in the same place for a lot longer than you normally are during the year, thus the risk of becoming a bit stale).
The stretch starts out seemingly manageable with Boston, Minnesota and Denver. It gets much tougher as Brooklyn, Oklahoma City and the Clippers follow, with Sacramento and Golden State closing out the stretch. Last March, the Mavs went 4-2 in a six-game home stand when they really couldn’t afford any losses in trying to chase down a playoff spot. They went 5-2 in a seven-game home stand in December 2008. It would seem that given the nature of the West they can’t afford to lose more than two games during this stretch. 7-1 might be advisable, but far from a certainty.
Following the long home stand the Mavericks will play five of their last seven on the road. Two of the final three games are a home game with the Spurs and the finale at Memphis where, coming into the season, the Mavericks have struggled for the last five years. So again, not easy (especially if there is a playoff spot on the line).
There are four Western Conference teams that the Mavs play only three times. This year, those teams are the Lakers, Portland, OKC, and Phoenix. Given only one of those teams is a sure-fire playoff team (OKC), that’s a bit of a tough break. Another game against the Blazers or Suns could be very helpful. LA and Portland will each be a two-home/one-road split. OKC and Phoenix will each be one home/two road.
There are 16 back-to-backs (Same as last year). The Mavericks were 7-9 in second of the back-to-back). There will be two stretches of four games in five nights (The Mavs had only one such stretch last year). The first (Nov 5-6, Nov 8-9), features a home game with the Lakers followed by a three-on-the-road at OKC, Minnesota and Milwaukee. The second (Jan 7-8, Jan 10-11), features home games with the Lakers and New Orleans sandwiched around road games at San Antonio and New Orleans.
Rare do NBA teams oppose each other in consecutive games, but the Mavericks will do that twice. Against Denver on November 23 and 25, and New Orleans on January 10-11.
So there you have it. It looks more difficult than a year ago when the Mavericks didn’t make the playoffs, but with what appears to be a better cast (only time will tell), one that should be manageable.
Now, can we please get to October 30 and Opening Night vs Atlanta?