The Mavericks have a busy week ahead with four games on tap in week 10. Dallas won two of three games in week nine to push their overall record to 17-13. Dallas broke a two-game losing streak with an impressive 111-104 win at Houston on Monday, Dec. 23. Dirk Nowitzki played one of his best games of the season and led the Mavericks with 31 points.
Dallas had a fantastic opportunity to build on their victory with a home matchup against the San Antonio Spurs on Thursday, Dec. 26. The Spurs played the night before but there was no indication of that from their stellar play. San Antonio defeated Dallas 116-107 and they controlled play with precise ball movement and offensive efficiency.
The Mavericks then hit the road and took advantage of a short-handed Chicago Bulls team on Saturday, Dec. 28 and won 105-83. The Bulls were without Derrick Rose and Luol Deng and they were no match for a Mavericks team looking to bounce back after a disappointing home loss to the San Antonio Spurs.
Dallas should expect to at least split the four games on their schedule in week 10. Their matchup with Clippers may be a daunting challenge, but none of their other three opponents enter the week with a record above the .500 mark.
Monday, Dec. 30 at Minnesota Timberwolves
Dallas begins the week with a tough road game against the Minnesota Timberwolves. At 15-15, the Timberwolves have failed to meet preseason expectations but they have managed to beat the Mavericks twice this season. Led by forward Kevin Love and shooting guard Kevin Martin, the Timberwolves averaged 114 points per game in those contests. Martin has averaged 29.5 points against the Mavericks in their two previous meetings.
The Timberwolves offense averages the fourth-highest points per game average in the NBA and they have had their way with the Mavericks defense in both previous matchups. Minnesota may not be playing well, but their high-octane defense poses a serious threat to the Mavericks. This may not be a good matchup for Dallas, but there is no reason the Timberwolves should beat them three consecutive times.
Wednesday, Jan. 1 at Washington Wizards
The Mavericks second road game of the week takes them to Washington to battle the Wizards on New Year’s Day. The Wizards are 13-14 and they are fighting to stay in playoff contention in the Eastern Conference. Dallas defeated Washington 105-95 on Nov. 12 in Dallas.
The Wizards offense has come alive of late, averaging 105 points over their last five games. Point guard John Wall is one of the most talented young guards in the NBA, and when guards Trevor Ariza and Bradley Beal play well, Washington becomes a very dangerous team. This is a game Dallas should win but it will take a strong effort. The Wizards are a scrappy team that will take advantage of Dallas if they fail to maintain their effort or focus.
Friday, Jan. 3 vs. Los Angeles Clippers
Dallas welcomes the Los Angeles Clippers into the American Airlines Center for the first time in the 2013-14 season. The Clippers enjoyed a strong offseason and entered the season as one of the favorites in the Western Conference. The Clippers hired former Boston Celtics head coach Doc Rivers in the offseason and he represents a significant upgrade from their former head coach, Vinny Del Negro.
The Clippers are sitting at 21-11 and they have remained in the fourth through sixth spots in the Western Conference standings for the majority of the 2013-14 season. Chris Paul is the heart of the Clippers team and he is still the best point guard in the NBA. Paul’s presence ensures that the Clippers remain a contender in the Western Conference.
Dallas failed to make a statement at home on Dec. 26 against the San Antonio Spurs, but a win against the Los Angeles Clippers would provide the Mavericks with a needed boost of confidence.
Sunday, Jan 5 vs. New York Knicks
The New York Knicks visit Dallas on Sunday, Jan. 5 for the Mavericks’ fourth game of the week. The Knicks have been one of the most disappointing teams in the 2013-14 season. New York enters week 10 with a 9-21 record and it has lost three consecutive games.
Injuries have played a part in the Knicks struggle. Tyson Chandler missed 20 games earlier in the season with a small nondisplaced fracture of his right fibula. In addition to the Chandler injury, Carmelo Anthony and Raymond Felton have both recently missed games with minor injuries.
When the Knicks have all shared the floor, they have been an average team at best. Frustration is mounting in New York as their fans grow tired of watching this struggling team comprised of ill-fitting pieces.
Regardless of how the previous three games go for the Mavericks, this is a game Dallas should fully expect to win.