The Dallas Mavericks head into the week riding high as they defeated both the Portland Trail Blazers and the Indiana Pacers on their home court over the weekend. Dallas started the week off in terrible fashion, losing to the Denver Nuggets 115-110 on Wednesday. The loss marked the Mavericks first three-game losing streak of the season and if they did not improve their play over the weekend they could have found themselves starting at five straight losses.
The home games against Portland and Indiana would reveal what kind of focus and resolve the 2013-14 Mavericks team has. After blowing a 30-point lead to the Trail Blazers, the Mavericks found themselves down six points with 4:26 remaining in the game. In what appeared to be a pivotal moment of the season, Dallas responded with their backs against the wall and ended the game on an 11-0 run.
The 103-98 victory against Portland would have been diminished if Dallas failed to defeat the Indiana Pacers two nights later. The Mavericks led the Pacers by 12 after the first quarter and they held on for a 105-94 victory. Winning these two games provides Dallas with another reminder of what they are capable of when they play their best basketball. With the playoff race coming down to the wire, the 38-26 Mavericks will look to stay hot in the upcoming week.
Tuesday, March 11 at Golden State Warriors
The Mavericks start the week off playing the Golden State Warriors for the third time this season. Dallas has split the season series against Golden State, with both teams protecting their home court.
Golden State comes into the week having won eight of their last ten games prior to their Sunday matchup against the Phoenix Suns. This is another big game for the Mavericks as the Warriors are one of the teams that Dallas is battling for the final playoff spot in the Western Conference.
The Mavericks played well for three quarters and went into the fourth quarter with a six point lead when the two teams met at Oracle Arena in December. Golden State rallied late behind Stephen Curry, who scored 16 of his 33 points in the final quarter.
Containing Curry will once again be critical to the Mavericks success against the Warriors. Look for Dallas head coach Rick Carlisle to employ point guard Devin Harris late in the game in hopes he can apply additional defensive pressure on the Warriors superb young point guard.
Wednesday, March 12 at Utah Jazz
The Mavericks catch a break in their schedule as face the 22-41 Utah Jazz on the second night of a back-to-back. The Jazz have lost five of six games with their lone victory coming against the lowly Philadelphia 76ers.
Dallas will hopefully apply a lesson they learned in Denver last week as they approach this matchup. The Jazz may be underdogs when the game begins, but if Dallas lets them hang around this game could become dangerous. The Jazz recently thumped a good Phoenix Suns team by a score of 109-86 on their home court on Feb. 26.
The Mavericks will be looking to sweep the season series against the Utah Jazz, with both previous wins coming at the American Airlines Center. Playing a team at high altitude on the second night of a back-to-back is challenging, but the Mavericks should be able to handle the Utah Jazz for the third time this season.
Sunday, March 16 at Oklahoma City Thunder
The Mavericks week ends with a matchup against one of the best teams in the NBA. Dallas visits Oklahoma City to conclude their three-game road trip. The Thunder easily defeated the Mavericks 107-93 when the teams met on Nov. 6.
The Thunder welcomed back point guard Russell Westbrook to the lineup on Feb. 20, but they have yet to hit their stride again as team. Fortunately for the Thunder, they are good enough to beat most teams they face as they look to get hot before the playoffs begin in April.
Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook’s athleticism provides a monumental challenge to the Dallas defense. The duo combined for 45 points when the two teams met in November. While this game is a daunting challenge, a win could provide the Mavericks with a substantial boost of confidence as the home stretch approaches. The Thunder enter the week with a 46-17 record and they are in contention with the San Antonio Spurs for the No. 1 spot in the Western Conference.