The calendar has officially turned over to the month of December and the Dallas Mavericks sit right on top of the .500 mark with a 10-10 record after 20 games.
It wasn’t an easy feat to get their record to this point. It took an impressive November filled with a few, what some would have considered, “upsets” early in their season. The Mavs entered November with a 2-6 record and would eventually fall to 2-7 with a sickening home loss to the lottery-bound New York Knicks on November 2nd. Luckily, they recovered nicely.
For the month of November, Dallas went an impressive 8-4 with seven of those eight wins coming at the American Airlines Center. The last two Novembers have seen Rick Carlisle’s bunch play themselves right out of meaningful games the remainder of the season and squarely focused on lottery positioning. Not this year. Dallas’ vital November surge has them in position to be feeling pretty good about themselves heading into 2019. The only thing standing in the way? A Mt. Everest-like December slate.
Here is a breakdown of some of the most important details about it:
16 total games (eight at home, eight on the road)
This is the most games squeezed into any month of the 2018-2019 season for Luka Doncic and the Mavericks. With 31 days in the month, Dallas will more or less be playing every other day. This is coming off a 12 game slate in the 30 day month of November. Dallas had ample time to practice and plenty of days without games.
Dallas had two different stretches of three straight days without a game in November:
- November 3rd through 5th after the aforementioned loss to the Knicks (Friday home game followed by another home game the next Tuesday)
- November 25th through 27th after their home win over the Celtics (Saturday home game followed by a game in Houston the following Wednesday)
They also had three different stretches of two days off between games in November. Two of them came between home games. Whether the Mavericks realized it or not, the NBA schedule was very, very generous to them in November. Hopefully they took advantage of all of that time to practice in their own facility and sleep in their own bed.
The Mavericks have no stretches of three days of between games in December. They have three different stretches of two days off between games, but one of those falls on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, so do they really count as days off?
Dallas had just one back-to-back in November when it beat the Washington Wizards at home on November 6th and then got its behind whipped when it traveled to Salt Lake City to face the Utah Jazz the following night.
Here are the back-to-backs the Mavericks will have in December:
- December 4th/5th (Home vs the Portland Trail Blazers/at the New Orleans Pelicans)
- December 12th/13th (Home vs the Atlanta Hawks/at the Phoenix Suns)
- December 22nd/23rd (At the Golden State Warriors and Portland Trail Blazers)
- December 30th/31st (Home and road back-to-back with the Oklahoma City Thunder)
A four game West coast road trip
This stretch will tie for the longest road trip the Mavs will have all season. They also have a four game road trip that starts December 31st in OKC and will then take them to the East coast through January 5th.
After falling to the Los Angeles Lakers at Staples Center on Friday night, the Mavs are just 2-8 on the road so far this season with those wins coming against the Chicago Bulls on November 12th and the Houston Rockets last Wednesday.
This road trip will feature trips to Denver, Los Angeles (Clippers), the Bay Area and Portland. Here’s how the Mavericks have fared in their trips to each of those cities recently:
- Denver: Have lost their last four games at the Pepsi Center. Their last win there was on March 28th, 2016.
- Los Angeles (with the pictures of Doc Rivers covering the Lakers’ banners): Have lost three out of four games against the Clips at Staples. Split the 2016-2017 trips there by winning on December 23rd, 2016.
- Golden State: Have lost 11 straight games at Oracle Arena with their last win there coming on April 12th, 2012. David Lee led the Warriors with 30 points. It has been a while…
- Portland: Dallas has actually won four of six games at the Moda Center going back to the start of the 2015-2016 season.
Hopefully the Mavericks are able to pad their record just a tad by capitalizing on a stretch of vs Orlando, vs Atlanta, @Phoenix and vs Sacramento that leads up to that road trip.
Dallas begins the month with a stretch of five out of six games at home starting on Sunday against the Clippers. With their 8-2 record at the AAC so far, this stretch will be a huge factor in how the month goes overall.
Opponents have a combined winning percentage of .508
Honestly, I have no idea if this is normal or more difficult than a typical NBA month’s schedule. The mix of teams is very interesting and features a lot of teams right around the .500 mark like Dallas. There are a few opponents that are comfortably in their standings positions both at the top and the bottom.
Top: Clippers (Dec. 2nd), Warriors (Dec. 22nd) and the Thunder (Dec. 30th/31st)
Bottom: Hawks and Suns in back-to-back games on the 12th and 13th.
The also face an incredibly streaky New Orleans Pelicans team three times throughout the month of December. Currently at 11-12, who knows what the Pelicans will look like when the Mavs face them two games in a row on the 26th and 28th.
Only a quarter of a way through the season, the Mavericks are already facing a scenario where each and every one of their games has an impact on their playoff hopes. They entered Friday night’s game against the Lakers as the 8th seed in the Western Conference and lost their playoff spot with the loss.
With Dirk Nowitzki hopefully set to return sometime early in the month, Dallas will get an energy boost from their superstar in the midst of the toughest stretch of schedule during their season. Will it be something that holds them back or will the Big German merely squeeze right in comfortably to their rotation?
Whatever the case, Mavericks basketball is interesting and entertaining as can be once again and fans should be thankful. However, December could be the month that makes or breaks this up-and-coming team’s season.
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