Mavs Schedule Analysis: Time To Play!
It has been quite a while since the Dallas Mavericks have had an offseason quite this exciting. In fact, it’s been awhile since the NBA has had an offseason this exciting. You could make the argument that it never has.
Everyone is anxious for the season to start. Dallas added a young cornerstone to their franchise, brought back an old friend and filled in some nice pieces. Is it going to translate to success? What qualifies as success? Can late October just get here already? And then April for the playoffs. I’m already ready for June and the Finals. I want it all.
We can’t make time move any faster than nature permits, but as of Wednesday, we can take another step in our anticipation. The 2014-2015 schedule was announced today. ( See it in its entirety and discuss it here.) It’s time to busy ourselves analyzing matchups and circling dates on the calendar.
Here are some highlights:
NBA Opening Night, October 28th
Mavericks @ San Antonio Spurs 7:00 CT
The most common argument for preseason optimism about the Mavericks’ new roster is that last season’s team took the eventual champion Spurs to seven games in the first round, pushing them harder than any other team was able to. By adding Chandler Parsons and addressing some of their most glaring weaknesses – primarily adding some rim protection – logic would argue that they are now good enough to make that leap.
Well, it won’t take long to find out. The Mavericks will have to watch the Spurs receive their championship rings before the game. The Spurs didn’t change their roster much like nearly every other contender seemed to do. They are rolling out the same team that destroyed the two-time defending champions. We’ll see opening night if the Mavs were really “this close” to being on the Spurs’ level.
I’d like to suggest that this is just the first game of the season and it will not predict what happens six months later, but that’s no fun. Go nuts.
Home Opener, October 30th
Utah Jazz @ Mavericks 7:30 CT
This will be your first chance to see the new-look Mavericks in person. Highly-touted international rookie Danta Exum will be coming to town, but this will be a game the Mavericks will be expected to win.
Lebron and Company, January 4th
Mavericks @ Cleveland Cavaliers 12:00 CT
The last time James switched teams Dirk Nowitzki ended up with a championship ring. I’m just saying.
There is a lot less animosity surrounding this particular change of teams. To be honest, the main reason to tune into this game is because with Lebron James, Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love, this Cleveland team will be fun to watch.
Also, some signs are pointing towards Shawn Marion joining the Cavs soon. It will be strange for Mavs fans to see the Matrix in a different jersey, but I think everyone involved are glad that both sides are strong teams with championship aspirations.
Martin Luther King Day, January 19th ?
Mavericks @ Memphis Grizzlies 4:00 CT
Even the most meaningful of holidays can start to seem like just another day off in our hectic lives, but Martin Luther King Day is obviously a very important day and has been strongly embraced by the NBA.
The NBA plays a number of matinee games for our enjoyment and this year one of those games is Dallas at the Memphis Grizzlies. The game will feature two extremely tough Western conference teams that will likely be fighting tooth and nail to make it out of the first round of the playoffs come April.
Memphis is the city in which Martin Luther King was assassinated. His life and death is forever a piece of the city’s identity. Playing an NBA game there on MLK day is a special thing. It doesn’t make the Dallas Mavericks a part of history, but it helps them and their fans to appreciate the significance of history.
The New Rivalry, January 28th
Houston Rockets @ Dallas Mavericks 7:00 CT
I wrote a few weeks ago that in the month of July the Rockets surpassed the Spurs as the Mavericks’ biggest rival. The Rockets treated Chandler Parsons like an asset and Dallas treated him like a cornerstone. James Harden basically called him a role player. Howard claimed the Rockets would be “unaffected” by Parsons’ absence.
You can be sure Mark Cuban wants to go to Houston and prove to the Rockets and all their fans that his investment is paying off just fine. Not to mention both teams consider themselves championship contenders. It’s safe to say a few people are waiting for this game to come along.
The first matchup between these two will happen on November 22nd in Houston.
Toughest Stretch: January 23-February 20th
Look, when you’re in the Western Conference a “tough stretch” is basically the entire season, but this month-long ordeal could be brutal. If things go poorly the Mavericks could really slip in the standings during this time. Every win will be hard fought. Here’s what it look like:
1/25 @New Orleans
2/4 @Golden State
2/5 @ Sacramento
2/9 LA Clippers
2/19 @Oklahoma City
That’s 14 games in 26 days. They will play Houston, Orlando, and Sacramento all on the second night of back-to-backs. You might think there are a few easy wins in there, but those games are packed in tight, making it harder to pull out victories. There are a ton of All -Stars in that stretch as well as very young teams with fresh legs. This veteran team will be seriously tested.
-Mavericks games on national TV (not including NBA TV): 11
-November 26th - Jose Calderon, Samuel Dalembert and Shane Larkin will make their first trip back to Dallas in a nationally televised game when the Knicks come to town. Carmelo Anthony barely seemed to consider the Dallas Mavericks in free agency and resigned with New York.
-The Mavs get to spend Christmas with their families. Eleven nationally televised games is a lot so this doesn’t seem to be any form of disrespect by the league. A Christmas break will likely be welcomed by the Mavericks.
-January 27th – Vince Carter will be back in Dallas for the first time, less than nine months after hitting a historic three-pointer to beat the Spurs in game three of their first round series.
-The final game of the season will be on April 15th against Portland, who has extremely similar expectations as the Dallas Mavericks. The West figures to be just as competitive as last season so this game could have serious implications. And in fact, while Dallas opens the season with 10 games featuring seven non-playoff clubs from a year ago, the Mavs close the season with 20 of their final 30 foes having been playoff teams.
Welcome to what it takes to be successful in the West.