Mavs’ Schedule Key to a Fast Start
The key to any team’s success is directly tied to its schedule. OK, so maybe that’s not an absolute, but it certainly doesn’t hurt.
Take the Dallas Mavericks’ 2014-15 schedule, which was released on Wednesday. Yes, they play the same relative opponents as everyone else in the west, but there are peaks and valleys. You’d better strike when the schedule gets kind or suffer the consequences in the long run.
Taking that into account, the Mavs better get off to a quick start if they have any aspirations of finishing with a top-four seed in the conference and home-court advantage in the first round.
The Mavericks open the season at San Antonio, who will be showing off some freshly-received rings. Dallas will have to be sharp to win that one, but honestly that game is all gravy. If they win it, great. If they don’t, it’s all good.
It’s the next nine games that should be the focus. The Mavs play seven of those next nine vs. teams that did not make the playoffs last season. Utah twice, New Orleans, Sacramento, Boston, Philadelphia, and Minnesota (without Kevin Love). Even after that, Dallas plays Charlotte, Washington and the Lakers in the next three, finishing off a 12-game stretch that is filled with winnable games.
Let’s put it to you this way, if Dallas can take care of business and be, say, 9-4 after that opening stretch, the team will set itself up to handle some tough pockets as the year goes on.
Take January, for instance. Dallas is on the road for 12 of the 16 games that month, including trips to Cleveland, the LA Clippers, Houston and Miami. The Mavs won’t play in the same city in consecutive games all month, basically making it one long road trip. Oh, and one of those home games is hosting Chicago. The good news is that Dallas plays 14 of the next 21 contests at home after January.
There are ebbs and flows, but the key is to pad your record when you can, as well as protect your home floor.
Besides the favorable start to the schedule, the Mavs have 17 back-to-back situations this season, which is second-fewest in the league. That is excellent news for a certain German who wears Maverick blue.
There are the notable games, for sure: Cleveland and LeBron James come to American Airlines Center on March 10. Chandler Parsons’ first return to Houston – November 22. Dallas has 11 nationally televised games, four on TNT (including the season opener at San Antonio), and seven on ESPN.
Perhaps the most intriguing game will come on April 15 vs. Portland – the final contest of the regular season. The Blazers are basically on the same level as the Mavericks and should be fighting for similar real estate among the top-eight in the Western Conference. Don’t be surprised if that game has some implications on the standings.
No matter. Every team plays 82 games – 41 at home and 41 on the road. It all evens out in the end. But it doesn’t hurt to get off to a good start to gain some early momentum.
Just ask the Spurs. They got off to a good start about 15 years ago and have five rings to show for it. But that’s another story.