The Mavericks enter the fourth week of the season with a record of 6-4. Dallas has done two things well early in the season; beat the teams they are supposed to beat and protect their home court. Dallas is 4-0 at home to start the 2013-14 season.
Dallas won two of three games last week, winning at home against the Washington Wizards 105-95 before splitting their two games in Florida. Dallas fell to the Miami Heat, 110-104, but they bounced back the following night in Orlando and held on for a 108-100 victory.
The Mavericks plays four games this week with the first three being at home. Three of the Mavericks four opponents this week having losing records, with the exception being the Houston Rockets who visit Dallas on Wednesday, Nov. 20.
Monday, Nov. 18 vs. Philadelphia 76ers
The 76ers were expected to be one of the worst teams in the NBA during the 2013-14 season. The offseason trade of Jrue Holiday to the New Orleans Hornets signaled a clear rebuilding effort in the city of brotherly love.
The 76ers have surprised many in the NBA with their play during the first month of the season. Entering the fourth of the week of the season, the 76ers are a respectable 5-6. First-year point guard Michael Carter-Williams is setting the tone in Philadelphia, averaging 17.4 points and 7.4 assists per game. His stellar play has made him the early front runner for the Rookie of the Year award.
Along with Carter-Williams’ impressive play, small forward Evan Turner is averaging 21.6 points per game and is enjoying the best season of his career. Philadelphia’s weakness is on the defensive side of the court and the Mavericks efficient offense should guide them to a win to begin the week.
Wednesday, Nov. 20 vs. Houston Rockets
The Houston Rockets make their first visit to the American Airlines Center and the Mavericks will have revenge on their minds. Dallas lost their first road game of the season at Houston on Nov. 1st, 113-105. Dallas had no answer for the Rockets high-octane offense that night and the game was never in doubt for Houston.
The Rockets are currently 7-4 but they have failed to meet the early season expectations that came with the signing of center Dwight Howard. Houston ranks No. 29 in the league in points allowed per game and strong offensive teams have exposed this weakness.
Despite their struggles on the defensive end of the court, the Rockets are a playoff team that will provide Dallas with their biggest challenge in week four.
Friday, Nov. 22 vs. Utah Jazz
The Jazz have struggled mightily out of the gate in 2013-14. Utah enters the week 1-10 overall and they have not been in competitive in most of those games. Utah’s lone win came against the 3-6 New Orleans Pelicans.
Expectations were not high in Utah and they sank even lower when first-round draft pick Trey Burke injured his right index finger. Burke has yet to play his first game on the professional level. Utah could use a spark offensively, as they average only 88.7 points per game, the lowest scoring average in the NBA.
There are no sure things in the NBA, but if Dallas plays with effort and focus they should have no problem handling the rebuilding Jazz.
Saturday, Nov. 23 at Denver Nuggets
The Mavericks travel to the Mile High City for their fourth game of the week. The Nuggets still present a formidable challenge at home, but they are not as strong of a team as they were last season. Denver lost Andre Iguodala in the offseason to the Golden State Warriors, and they parted ways with long time head coach George Karl. The Nuggets are sitting at a respectable 4-5 but their slow start has many questioning the direction of the Nuggets.
Despite the Nuggets early season struggles, playing the second night of a back-to-back in Denver will test the Mavericks energy and endurance.