Seventy-six games down, six more to go.
The Mavericks are in the thick of an epic tank-off between nine teams at the bottom of the standings. As of today, the Mavericks sit near the top of the lottery with the fifth best lottery odds. A lot will transpire between now and April 10th — so let’s break down the final 6 games on the schedule for the Mavericks.
Records are current as of 3/31/2018. This piece will be updated throughout the entirety of the season.
April 1st: Road | Cleveland Cavaliers (45–30) | Home: 26–11 | 3 seed
The Mavericks travel to Cleveland to take on the surging Cavaliers on Sunday. The Cavaliers, who are 8–2 in their last 10, have a lot to play for — as they are fighting for a 3-seed in the Eastern Conference with both the Philadelphia 76ers and the Indiana Pacers. The Cavaliers are just a mere half game up on the 76ers and one game up on the Pacers.
This will be the final of two meetings between the Mavericks and the Cavaliers. The Cavaliers defeated the Mavericks in a close contest back on November 11th, 111-104.
LeBron James was rather quiet compared to his relative standards back in November, notching 19 points, 11 rebounds, 4 assists on just 6 of 14 from the field. LeBron was uncharacteristically non-aggressive. James has started all 76 games for the Cavaliers and in just five of those games has he shot the ball fewer than 14 times. With James quiet, the Cavaliers turned to Kevin Love who was the real difference maker in the game. Love roasted the Mavericks for 29 points on 11 of 19 shooting, including 3 of 5 from 3-point range. He also manned the glass, tallying 15 on the night.
Love was recently welcomed back to the Cavs lineup on March 19th after missing 6 weeks of action with a fractured left hand. In his fifth game since returning from the hand injury, Love was inadvertently elbowed in the mouth which caused concussion-like symptoms. Love missed one game and since returned on Friday night versus the Pelicans. He should be ready to go on Sunday which increases the Cavaliers odds of coming out of Sunday’s contest victorious.
Dennis Smith, Jr. had one of his finer games of the season against the Cavaliers, scoring 21 points on 8 of 16 shooting. Smith added 7 assists to go with 5 rebounds on the night. After the game, Smith happened to be pulled into some NBA drama thanks to LeBron James’ postgame comments. James told the media, “ The Knicks passed on a really good one, and Dallas got the diamond in the rough. He should be a Knick. That’s going to make some headlines, but he should be a Knick. Dallas is definitely, I know they’re excited that he didn’t go there.”
Two teams, two different agendas. Look for the Cavaliers to have no problems with the Mavericks.
Mavericks win probability via FiveThirtyEight: 12%
April 3rd: Home | Portland Trailblazers (47–29) | Road: 21–16 | 3 seed
After Sunday’s contest against the Cavaliers, the Mavericks travel back to Dallas to take on the Portland Trailblazers on Tuesday.
Portland is currently nursing a three-game lead on the San Antonio Spurs for the 3rd seed in the Western Conference.
This will be the third and final meeting between the two teams. Portland currently leads the season series 2–0. Portland and Dallas faced off for two games six days apart back in January.
In the first meeting, the Mavericks fell 117–108 in Portland. Damian Lillard led the way for the Blazers, scoring 31 points on 10 of 15 from the field including 7 of 9 from 3-point range. Lillard and his backcourt mate, C.J. McCollum, combined for 57 points including 9 threes. Former Maverick Al-Farouq Aminu was plus-11 in 34 minutes hitting 3 of 7 3s for 13 points. The Mavericks were led by Wes Matthews who played 37 minutes against his former team and had 23 points. Harrison Barnes was rather quiet during the first matchup with just 8 points on 3 of 13 from the field. This game marked just the fourth time all season, Harrison Barnes has failed to score 10 points or more in a game.
Six days later the Mavericks were manhandled by the Blazers 107–93. Things got off the rails in the 2nd quarter where the Mavericks were outscored 35–19. As a team, the Mavs were just 8 of 27 for twenty-six percent shooting in the 2nd quarter.
In the 2nd half, Damian Lillard proved to be too strong again. 18 of Damian Lillard’s 29 points came in the 2nd half, including 14 points in the fourth quarter.
In the two matchups against the Mavericks Lillard is averaging 30 points, 6 assists, 4 rebounds, on 57.6 percent shooting, including 58.8 percent from 3-point range (10–17).
Portland plays Sunday against the Memphis Grizzlies and then will travel to Dallas for Tuesday’s matchup. As long as Portland is injury free between now and Tuesday, the Blazers should be able to improve on their 21–16 road record in Dallas.
Mavericks win probability via FiveThirtyEight: 31%
April 4th: Road | Orlando Magic (22–53) | Home: 15–23 | Lottery odds: 4th
For all of the #TeamTank members, the Mavericks matchup with the Orlando Magic on April 4th looks to be the game of the year. Both teams are fighting for those ever precious four-number lottery ball combinations. If the season ended today, the Mavericks would be awarded 88 of the 1,000 four-number combinations. The Magic, on the other hand, would have 31 more four-number combinations with 119 total.
Here’s a look at last years lottery:
The game itself should be rather ugly with both teams playing away from Orlando the prior night. Dallas will be traveling to Orlando fresh off the matchup with the Blazers whereas the Magic will be traveling back from New York after facing the Knicks.
The Magic are currently facing all of the bottom teams in the lottery standings. Through 3-games they are 1–2 with a win over Phoenix and losses to both Brooklyn and Chicago. The Magic face the Hawks on Sunday before traveling to New York.
Don’t be surprised if both teams opt to rest integral players to ensure a loss.
Mavericks win probability via FiveThirtyEight: 47%
April 6th: Road | Detroit Pistons (35–40) | Home: 24–14 | Lottery odds: 12th
The Detroit Pistons are currently sitting in no man’s land. After trading for Blake Griffin the team is 11–14. Thanks to that trade, the Pistons are only awarded their 2018 1st round pick if it falls between picks 1-4. As of today, they hold 7 of the 1,000 four-number lottery ball combinations. Essentially they have no incentive to tank, but with playoff hopes out the window — you never know how Detroit is going to approach this game.
Griffin recently suffered a bone bruise to his right ankle and his status for the game against the Mavericks is up in the air. Without Griffin, the Pistons could look a lot like the team that got blown out in Dallas on December 20th, 110–93.
During the first matchup, the Mavericks played one of their best quarters of the season. The Mavericks exploded in the 2nd quarter shooting 15 of 19 from the field for an insane 78.9 percent. The Mavericks hit 5 of 7 3s and outscored the Pistons 43–28. For the game, the Mavericks hit 14 of 30 3s.
The Mavs are just 9–28 away from the American Airlines Center, but this game could be a lot closer than anticipated.
Mavericks win probability via FiveThirtyEight: 27%
April 8th: Road | Philadelphia 76ers (45–30) | Home: 26–11 | 4th seed
Like that of the Cavs, the 76ers are battling for the 3-seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs. Unfortunately, the 76ers suffered a massive blow to those chances of obtaining the 3-seed after Joel Embiid suffered an injury against the Knicks on March 28th.
Joel Embiid update: pic.twitter.com/PEgYZYq3fh
— x – Philadelphia 76ers (@sixers) March 29, 2018
Embiid will certainly not be in uniform for the matchup against Dallas. During the first meeting way back on October 28th, the Mavericks lost the 76ers 112-110. Embiid struggled shooting just 42 percent from the floor, but still managed 23 points and 9 rebounds for the game.
The 76ers face-off with the Cavaliers on Friday, April 6th, just two days before facing the Mavericks. If they lose to the Cavs on Friday, they’ll be extra motivated to grab a win from the Mavericks on Sunday.
Mavericks win probability via FiveThirtyEight: 13%
April 10th: Home | Phoenix Suns (19–58) | Road: 10–29 | Lottery odds: 1st
Dirk’s final game?
Here’s Dirk Nowitzki (@swish41) on his plans for next season — which would be No. 21 in a row with the Dallas Mavericks — as covered in the latest @nytimes NBA newsletter that went out this afternoon. pic.twitter.com/6x7rE52raP
— Marc Stein (@TheSteinLine) March 27, 2018
Mavericks win probability via FiveThirtyEight: 81%
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