The NBA schedule is out! It’s that time of the year where though football is about to kick off, basketball is right around the corner. Fans can begin mapping out what games they want to attend while the players circle specific matchups on their calendar. We gave our thoughts on the Mavericks schedule regarding the most anticipated games, toughest stretches, and predicted the Mavs record and playoff chances.
1. In your opinion, what are the five most anticipated games on the Mavs schedule?
Clark: I’ll be in Los Angeles for my birthday this year which happens to be December first when the Mavs play at the Staples Center against LeBron and AD. On a personal basis, this must be the most anticipated game for me. Others include Nov. 14 when KP returns to MSG and Feb. 1 at home against Luka’s unofficial rival, Trae Young. You have to add-in the first game of the season against the Wizards at home – being the first meaningful game we get to see our new polished, dynamic duo together on the court. Lastly, the last game of the season against the Thunder on April 15th. It’s going to be tight race to squeeze into the playoffs, and this game will require a win to secure their spot.
Douglass: 1. Atlanta Hawks – This one might seem like it is all about Luka Doncic vs. Trae Young. While the two young stars will forever be linked because of a draft day trade, this one is bigger than that to me. The Hawks will never be a rival to the Mavs unless the two teams meet in the finals multiple times, but this is a chance to see a young Atlanta team that could be vying for a playoff spot in the East vs. a Mavs team that will need to take advantage of fringe East teams to return to the playoffs in the loaded West.
2. New York Knicks – This one is pretty obvious. Dennis Smith Jr. has said recently that he is still friends with all his former teammates and still texts Luka every couple of weeks but he also admitted that he wants to beat them every chance he gets. Then, on the Mavs side you have Porzingis going against his former team where things did not end on good terms.
3. Milwaukee Bucks – One of the best teams in the East. The Greek Freak. The Milwaukee Bucks are must-see status when they come to your town. Plus, until Giannis signs an extension or goes elsewhere, there will always be hope that Dallas can right their wrong from the 2013 draft.
4. Sacramento Kings – The Sacramento Kings are a very talented but young team. De’Aaron Fox and Marvin Bagley are studs. Many believe that they are on the same tier as the Mavs when it comes to the next wave of teams that could make noise in the west.
5. Los Angeles Lakers – The Lakers are expected to contend for a title after the addition of Anthony Davis which gives them two of the top five players in the NBA. Those matchups will be very entertaining and will give the Mavs a chance to see how far they may be away from being at that level.
Duell: 1. Wizards @ Mavericks, October 23rd. Personally, I’m more excited to just get this under way and see the Luka/KP combo in action in a regular season game more than any particular sexy matchup later on. Porzingis has been a Maverick since the end of January and Mavericks fans will have to wait close to nine months to see The Unicorn finally play a legit game for the team. Time can’t pass by soon enough.
2. Lakers @ Mavericks, November 1st. LeBron and AD’s first trip to Dallas will be on a Friday night and it’s going to be one hell of a buzz inside the AAC. This could be a huge swing game for Dallas as their opening ten game slate isn’t terribly difficult on paper and pulling this one out could go a long way to improving their start.
3. Clippers @ Mavericks, November 26th. Kawhi Leonard and Paul George’s duo makes their first trip to the AAC on a Tuesday night and surely there will be a late-arriving crowd full of bandwagon Clippers fans that claimed to Warriors or Lakers fans the last few years. This should be fun.
4. Rockets @ Mavericks, March 23rd. The Russell Westbrook experiment heads to Dallas for the first all the way in March. It will be interesting to see the narratives surrounding the teams at this point late in the season. While the Rockets have a higher floor and ceiling than the Mavs this season, there is a fair amount of uncertainty around both teams.
5. Knicks @ Mavericks, November 8th. The return of Dennis Smith Jr. to the AAC likely won’t mean as much to the average Mavs fan as it does to all of us who live and die by every rumor on Twitter. However, it should still be fun to see who says what and if anyone slips up and maybe says something less than stellar about the other side. While Porzingis’ return to The Garden less than a week later is juicier, I’ll selfishly include the game in Dallas since I’m more likely to be there.
Mulford: I side with Dylan on this one. The first game, plus being the home opener, against the Wizards is the most anticipated game for me. The first look at Luka and KP as a potential dynamic duo will be magical. Alongside that, the return of KP to Madison Square Garden will surely be a night to remember as the boobirds from Knicks fans will attempt to haunt KP all night, plus the game is on TNT which is only fitting. When the LeBron and the Lakers come to town, it’s always a spectacle, especially when they’re teamed up and add Anthony Davis. As well as the new look Clippers with Kawhi and PG and the in-state rival Rockets with new acquisition of Russell Westbrook.
2. How does the schedule even out throughout 82 games? Tough start/finish to the season?
Clark: Last I checked, the Mavs are in the Western Conference. Also, last I checked, the West is also the strongest it’s ever been. Sure, they may have a tough start to the season, but let’s be real. This is going to be a long, hard fought season from wire to wire. Over half the games in the schedule consist of last year’s playoff teams and that doesn’t include the four games against the Lakers. Buckle your seatbelts, MFFLs, we’re set for a wild, but fun ride.
Douglass: The First 10 games – Looking at the first 10 games, it would be disappointing if the Mavs did not come away at least 6-4. Within those 10 games, they have the Wizards, Cleveland, Orlando, Knicks and Memphis.
Toughest Stretch – The toughest stretch comes between January 8th- January 25th. They finish a six game homestand against the Nuggets, Lakers and Sixers. The Mavs will go on a quick two game west road trip where they face the Warriors and Trailblazers. The next four games after that are against Portland, Clippers, @ Portland and @ Utah.
Easiest Stretch – There are two “light” spots in the schedule that I would look at as times where the Mavs can string together some wins. First stretch is from December 4th-14th, the Mavs have a three game homestand against Minnesota, New Orleans and Sacramento then go to Mexico City to take on Detroit. They finish that stretch on the 14th at home against the Miami Heat. Then, in February the Mavs have a three game stretch against the Grizzlies, @ Wizards and @ Charlotte.
Duell: I think the schedule turned out perfectly fair for Dallas. With the incredibly balanced amount of talent throughout the league, there is no stretch that is just a layup line at any point throughout the season. I expect them to be a strong team at home this season, winning somewhere between 28-32 games in Dallas, and a six-game homestand in January will be huge in the final results of this season.
Mulford: The Mavs get a favorable draw to begin the season with games against the likes of the Wizards, Cavs, Magic, Knicks (twice), and the Grizzlies. Those are all games that Dallas should win. But again, it’s the Western Conference. Every game is meaningful towards your chances at a playoff spot, especially those against lesser competition. A stretch that I see as vital to their playoff hopes will be following the All-Star break. They have an 11-game stretch against Orlando, Atlanta, Minnesota (twice), San Antonio (twice), Miami, Chicago, New Orleans, Memphis, and Indiana. There’s certainly some tough games in there against potential playoff teams but definitely all winnable games. That stretch, especially coming out the gates following the All-Star break, will show if the Mavs are a playoff contender or pretender.
3. What opposing team’s schedule will the Mavs be watching as the playoff race tightens up down the stretch?
Clark: I like the state of this question. Not only do we assume it will be a tight race in the West, but we also see the Mavs being a road team (more than likely) to enter the first round of the playoffs. The teams to watch right in that 6-10 seeding going into the playoffs will be Portland, San Antonio, Sacramento and New Orleans. I could see those four teams along with the Mavs being separated by three or four games. It will be a tight race, but I have the Mavs on the better end of that spectrum.
Douglass: There are seven teams that I feel will definitely be the playoffs in the West. That is the Clippers, Lakers, Rockets, Utah, Portland, Golden State and Denver. That leaves San Antonio as the team that the Mavs will be fighting for the 8th and final playoff spot with. The Mavs will have their final matchup against the Spurs on March 10th.
Duell: The standings are going to be pretty tight all season long and there could be half of the Western Conference within a few games of each other for the final few playoff spots. I expect Dallas will be monitoring every Spurs. Trail Blazers and Timberwolves game down the stretch as they battle for the 7th or 8th seed.
Mulford: As stacked as the Western Conference is, there’s a potential 10-11 teams that can say they have a real chance of being a playoff team this season. For the Mavericks, they’ll need to be keeping their eyes on the Spurs, Pelicans, and Kings as the teams vying for the final one or two playoff spots. Granted, a team can always deal with injuries and take a plummet but it seems there’s a collective of teams who are playoff locks in the West. If Dallas wants to battle for the 7th or 8th seed, they must win their matchups against the Spurs, Pelicans, and Kings.
4. As of today, what is your prediction for the Mavs record this season? Playoffs?
Clark: My record prediction for the Mavs is 45-37. That would put them in the seventh spot in the West for me. The first round matchup coming against the Denver Nuggets where the Mavs light up the scoreboard and upset them in six games. The pick and roll/pop of Luka and KP is just lethal and flat-out unguardable. Mix that in with the drive-and-kick from Wright/Barea to spot-up shooting from THJ/Curry/Jackson/Maxi/Brunson. This team could be deadly while still being coached by one of the best in the league.
Douglass: How they manage Porzingis as far as “load management” will be a huge factor on how good the Mavs can be. Ultimately, I see the Mavs winning between 42-47 games and just missing the playoffs. This season will be the year to showcase the Luka/KP duo to the world and hopefully add more talent going into the 2020-2021 season.
Duell: The 33-49 record last season for Dallas last season was misleading as they just punted on the final two and a half months after the Porzingis trade. At the time of the deal, they were only a few games under .500 and were over .500 a third of the way through the season. Adding in Porzingis this season plus more capable role players in Seth Curry and Delon Wright, I like the Mavericks to win at least eight more games to get to .500 and possibly more. I really think the West will beat itself up enough for a team with 41-43 wins to nab the eighth seed. Hopefully Dallas can take a mega step forward this season and sneak in.
Mulford: I have the Mavs slated at around 41-45 wins, which I think will be right on the doorstep of sneaking into the playoffs in the mammoth which is the West. Certainly adding KP to the lineup alongside Luka will do wonders and the additions of Delon Wright and Seth Curry can’t go unmentioned but I worry that collective production on the wing might fall up short. If the likes of Dorian Finney-Smith and Justin Jackson can come together and provide consistent, strong minutes while knocking down threes and playing fierce defense, then the Mavs playoff chances become a lot more likely. As of now, I’ll say the Mavericks just miss out on the playoffs but surely make a leap towards punching their ticket.
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