Don’t be alarmed, but the Dallas Mavericks are starting March off worse than they did February.
The Mavs, fresh off a 9-3 February highlighted by a win over Indiana and an immaculate Dirk Nowitzki buzzer-beater (go ahead and watch it again, just for fun), began March with a 112-106 loss to the San Antonio Spurs on Sunday at the AT&T Center. Dallas has now lost all three meetings against their in-state rivals with one meeting left in late April.
That’s probably not what Mavs fans want to hear, but it gets worse: Thanks to their back-to-back losses to San Antonio and Chicago, the Mavs are once again back in eighth place in the Western Conference — tied with Phoenix and a half-game back of Golden State.
That 9-3 February was exactly what Dallas needed to extend its distance from Memphis, who now sits a 1.5 games back of the Mavs. But Dallas needs a solid month of March if it hopes to even remain relevant heading into April. Dallas plays Portland, Indiana, Golden State, the Clippers and Oklahoma City twice just in this month alone. Including the Spurs game on Sunday, the Mavs play the top four teams in the West. Add that with the crucial game against the Warriors on March 11 (at Oracle Arena) and every game proves to be critical.
Clutch your hearts, it gets worse. The Mavs play the Denver Nuggets twice (who they’ve already lost to … twice), a Brooklyn Nets team that’s 19-8 since Jan. 1 and the Sacramento Kings, who put a shellacking on Dallas on Dec. 9 in Sacramento.
Bear with me, there are silver linings that we’ll get to in a moment. But this daunting month will prove if the Mavs should be considered a legitimate threat in the Western Conference as a lower seed. Offensively, there’s no question they can hang with any of these teams. However, can they do enough defensively against the likes of Damian Lillard and LaMarcus Aldridge? What about Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant? Chris Paul and Blake Griffin? One of those three teams are bound to meet Dallas in the playoffs. If the season ended today, it would be Oklahoma City. Oofah.
The game that should garner the most interest is the game against the Clippers on March 27 in Dallas. Yes, skipping over two games against the Thunder seems terrible, but before the calendar turns to April, can the Mavs actually close out the Clippers? Remember that time Dallas was up 17 points with less than five minutes left? And STILL lost? The Mavs need to win that matchup with the Clippers just for the pure sanity of America.
Now, here are the silver linings that you all have been waiting for: Seven straight home games, eight if you count the April 1 meeting with Golden State. Starting with the March 17 matchup with Boston, Dallas gets seven games at the American Airlines Center with games against Brooklyn, Oklahoma City and that aforementioned Clippers game. Mixed in are the games against Minnesota, Denver and Sacramento. There are some wins somewhere there. Take your pick and don’t be shy.
Also, only two back-to-backs for Dallas, and they’re reasonable; the March 11 game against the Warriors follows with a trip to Utah. Then on March 16, the Mavs head to Oklahoma City before coming home the following day to play the Celtics. The Mavs are 6-6 on the back end of back-to-backs this season.
With 13 games left in March — not forgetting they’re already 0-1 — five games seem winnable from the get go (the home games against Minnesota, Denver, Brooklyn, Sacramento and Boston). If Dallas can steal a few home games against either Indiana, Portland, Los Angeles or Oklahoma City, this will be considered a successful month. The Mavs will need at least eight or nine wins to keep up with the rest of the pack. Seven wins would even be considered successful with this gauntlet.
March 5 – at Denver
March 7 – vs. Portland
March 9 – vs. Indiana
March 11 – at Golden State
March 12 – at Utah
March 16 – at Oklahoma City
March 17 – vs. Boston
March 19 – vs. Minnesota
March 21 – vs. Denver
March 23 – vs. Brooklyn
March 25 – vs. Oklahoma City
March 27 – vs. Los Angeles Clippers
March 29 – vs. Sacramento
You can reach Danny Webster on Twitter by following @DannyWebster21.
Tags: Dallas Mavericks