The Dallas Mavericks enter the week looking to get back on track after losing two of their last three games at home. The Mavericks came into the week hoping to use their eight-game homestand as an opportunity to distance themselves from the Phoenix Suns and Memphis Grizzlies in the Western Conference.
After defeating the Boston Celtics 94-89 on March 17, Dallas fell in overtime to the Minnesota Timberwolves by a score of 123-122 on March 19. The high-scoring loss to the Timberwolves could have been a Mavericks win if they came ready to play. Minnesota was the aggressive team early, outscoring Dallas 37-24 in the first quarter.
After defeating the Denver Nuggets 122-106 on March 21, it looked like Dallas could still have a successful week at home if they could protect their home court on Sunday against the visiting Brooklyn Nets.
The Nets came into the game sizzling, having won 10 of their last 12 games. Dallas jumped out to a 29-15 lead and they carried a seven-point lead into the fourth quarter. The Nets refused to go away as they fought back in the fourth and forced overtime. Joe Johnson and Deron Williams were too much for Dallas to handle in the extra quarter and Brooklyn left Dallas with a 107-104 victory.
Despite the heartbreaking home loss, Dallas guard Monta Ellis explained to the media how the Mavericks would maintain their focus. “We’re going to take it one game at a time. This is not the time to panic. We’ve got a lot of games ahead.”
The urgency of the upcoming games are not lost on the Mavericks or their coaching staff but the results have got to change. Fortunately for Dallas, they still control their own destiny and a playoff berth will be theirs if they can start winning key games at home down the stretch. Let’s take a look at who will be visiting the American Airlines Center this week.
Tuesday, March 25 vs. Oklahoma City Thunder
The Oklahoma City Thunder will roll into the American Airlines center with revenge on their minds when the two teams hit the court on Tuesday. The Mavericks handed the Thunder their worst defeat of the season on March 16, winning 109-86 in Chesapeake Energy Arena.
Dallas caught a break when the two teams met earlier this month as Oklahoma City was minus star point guard Russell Westbrook. Westbrook was getting a scheduled day of rest that game, but he sprained his surgically repaired knee on March 22 and will now be once again questionable to suit up.
Without Westbrook, the Thunder will continue to rely on Kevin Durant. The Thunder’s franchise player and MVP candidate continues amaze. Durant put up 51 points, 12 rebounds and seven assists against the Toronto Raptors on March 21. Durant kept the Thunder in the game and then hit a game-winning three pointer with only seconds left.
Dallas proved they can play with the Thunder in their 23-point win on March 16. Even if the Thunder are without Westbrook, they remain an explosive team that will present a formidable challenge for the Mavericks. The Thunder enter the week in the No. 2 spot in the Western Conference with a 51-18 record.
Thursday, March 27 vs. Los Angeles Clippers
After hosting the Thunder, the Mavericks will host the red-hot Los Angeles Clippers in another challenging home game. The Clippers have defeated the Mavericks in both of their previous matchups this season and they have won nine of ten games entering the week.
Clippers head coach Doc Rivers has tightened up his rotation and the Clippers are hitting their stride as a team. Chris Paul and Blake Griffin remain the Clippers top scoring options, but small forwards Matt Barnes and Danny Granger are providing head coach Doc Rivers with additional scoring punch.
The Clippers may be the No. 3 team in the Western Conference, but they are now 49-21 and playing well enough that they could catch the Oklahoma City Thunder for the No. 2 spot out West. The Mavericks played the Clippers tight in both previous matchups, but they will have to dig deep to finally top this explosive team at home on Thursday.
Saturday, March 29 vs. Sacramento Kings
Dallas welcomes the Sacramento Kings into the American Airlines Center for their third and final matchup of the 2013-14 season. The Kings and Mavericks split their first two matchups, with both teams protecting their home court.
The Kings pulled off one of the biggest trades this season when they acquired small forward Rudy Gay from the Toronto Raptors on Dec. 9. The trade has made the Kings more explosive, but they remain one of the worst teams in the Western Conference.
Dallas should welcome this matchup after coming off three tough games against the Nets, Thunder and Clippers. The Mavericks cannot afford to lose focus against any teams, but if they put forth a strong effort they will find themselves victorious against the 25-45 Kings at the American Airlines Center.
Tags: Dallas Mavericks