The Mavs’ schedule has officially been released, and with it now come hope, promise, and expectations.
Dallas will open the 2014-15 season at San Antonio on Oct. 28 at 7 p.m. CST. The Spurs will be receiving their championship rings that night, and in some ways it’s fitting that the ceremony will happen before a game against the Mavericks, the team that gave the Spurs their toughest challenge on the road to the title. If Dirk Nowitzki and Co.’s hunger for another Dallas championship wasn’t already great enough, it will only grow stronger seeing the Spurs celebrate their title.
The Mavs will then play the Utah Jazz at the AAC two days later — the team’s home opener, the return of Tyson Chandler, and Chandler Parsons’s Mavs debut — on Oct. 30 at 7:30 CST.
The team’s schedule is road-heavy to begin the season, as the Mavs will face three road trips of three games or more by mid-January, including a season-long four-game road trip bridging November and December. But, as all do, Dallas’s schedule evens out once the calendar shifts to 2015, as the Mavs will enjoy a stretch of 14 home games in 20 contests from Feb. 7 to March 24. Stuffed in the middle of that prolonged stretch is an eight-day All-Star Break, part of a new league-wide plan to extend the respite to give players who partake in All-Star Weekend festivities a chance to rest up before the regular season’s home stretch.
The team’s longest homestand this season will last five games and comes in March against some must-see teams: The Cavs, Clippers, Thunder, Magic, and Grizzlies will all roll through Dallas during that stretch.
Lengthening the All-Star Break, of course, means condensing more games in fewer season days. Dallas will play 17 back-to-backs this season, but fortunately the Mavs only play four games in five nights once all year. Dallas did a good job adding depth this off-season, so hopefully Nowitzki and Monta Ellis, both of whom played heavy minutes during such stretches last season, won’t have to carry such a difficult load in terms of minutes during those 34 contests.
However, things even out elsewhere, as the Mavs will play 18 games after at least two full days of rest. That plays right into the team’s hands, as longer breaks between games give players more time to recover from the grind of the game before. Nowitzki, especially, was terrific last season in such games, averaging 25.8 points on 57.6/56.0/90.0 splits from the field and 7.8 boards in 11 games.
Rest and Relaxation
|Days off||No. of Games in ’14-’15||’13-’14 record|
Other games of note that you won’t want to miss this season include Chandler Parsons’s return to Houston on Nov. 22 and the Spurs’ first trip to the AAC on Dec. 20, to name a couple. The Mavs’ most difficult stretch of the season, aside possibly from that five-game homestand, will come in late January — the Mavs will play at New Orleans on a Sunday, then come home to play Memphis before heading to Houston, Miami, and finally Orlando the next Saturday. The last four games will all come in five nights. Five games in a week is a challenging run no matter who the opponents are, but seeing as at least three of those five opponents are considered playoff contenders, it’s sure to be a test.
Aside from the games against some of the league’s elite, there are plenty other home contests that will be great ones to catch. For example, the Minnesota Timberwolves, who played some very competitive games with the Mavs last season, come to Dallas on Nov. 15. Carmelo Anthony and the Knicks come to town on Nov. 26. A couple weeks later, Dec. 7, the Milwaukee Bucks, Monta Ellis’s former team under new head coach and former Mavs great Jason Kidd will be at the AAC. Kobe Bryant, Steve Nash, and the Lakers will also be paying Dallas a visit twice, once on the Friday before Thanksgiving and another the day after Christmas. It could be the last time Nash ever plays in Dallas.
On Feb. 22, Lance Stephenson and Charlotte will be in the building. Stephenson was one player many thought might end up playing for the Mavericks this season, so it will be interesting to see how hyped he is for that game. That face-off will be immediately followed by a visit from the Toronto Raptors, one of the up-and-coming teams in the East and a club who came back for two upset wins against Dallas in 2013-14. The Raptors are favorites to win the Atlantic Division in the East this season and could make a big-time playoff run if healthy. The Mavs’ last six home games of the season — contests against the Grizzlies, Spurs, Rockets, Warriors, Suns, and Blazers — could all have serious playoff implications, so those are games you won’t want to miss, either. Just like last season, there will be no shortage of drama this year. Out West, every single game matters.
Making predictions is always a dangerous game because it’s impossible to predict things like injuries and major trades. However, if Dallas is able to stay at least relatively healthy, a realistic and reasonable goal would be somewhere between 50 and 52 wins. Last season, 49 wins was only good enough for the eighth seed out West, but I don’t see that being the case again during this upcoming season. The East will be stronger and the West will be deeper, meaning the value of every win will increase dramatically. ESPN, for example, predicted Dallas would win 50 games, and according to their experts that would be good for fifth in the West this season.
Now that we know what’s waiting for the Mavs in October, November, and beyond, it’s time to turn our attention to training camp, which is already just over a month away. The season is rapidly approaching. It’s time to get excited.