The Mavericks are 7-3 and entering a stretch of the schedule that will tell them a lot about whether they are “for real.”
Six of their next seven games are on the road and six of the next seven opponents are on the good side of .500.
It’s going to be a test, particularly for the Mavericks’ big men.
A steady diet of Nikola Vucevic (Chicago), Nikola Jokic (Denver), Deandre Ayton (Phoenix, twice) and Ivica Zubac and Isaiah Hartenstein (Clippers, twice) await Dwight Powell, Boban Marjanovic, Kristaps Porzingis and Willie Cauley-Stein.
“We got the Joker on Monday and Chicago (Wednesday), they got some talented bigs,” coach Jason Kidd said. “And so, it’s a committee that we have to be able to throw at those guys. So we have that option. Some teams don’t have that option.”
The Mavericks do. And will throw all their big men at the gauntlet of opponents they have coming up.
The good news is that the Mavericks have traversed the first 10 games of the season in impressive fashion. They are raising eyebrows around the league, despite their three losses being by a combined 72 points.
Survive this next stretch of the schedule and they will announce their residency as a team to be taken seriously in the Western Conference.
“I like the steps that we’re taking in the right direction,” Tim Hardaway Jr. said Tuesday. “Everything’s resulting in winning the majority of the games. Defense travels. And offensively, we just got to stick to what we do best.”
Practice facility getting facelift: Before heading to Chicago to start the two-game trip, the Mavericks worked out Tuesday at American Airlines Center on their subterranean practice court because of an event going on at the arena.
The Biosteel practice facility across Interstate 35 is being renovated, which will mean the team will spend most of its practice days at AAC.
“Some of us have been here before,” said Kidd, who used the practice court on a regular basis when he was playing for the Mavericks a decade ago. “But with the construction at our other practice facility, we got to make do. And to have the luxury to move over here in the middle of the season is a plus. And also we’ll get a little more time on the main floor, which is a positive.
The renovation of the practice facility was something that new general manager Nico Harrison wanted when he arrived. Kidd said that the fix-up should be completed “hopefully after the All-Star break.”
Best things in life are free? The Mavericks are off to a poor start shooting free throws.
Their 71.6 percentage through 10 games would threaten the franchise’s worst mark for a season (70.5 percent in 1992-93) if they don’t improve.
Luka Dončić is one of the biggest culprits, especially since he gets to the line so often. But his 70.6 percent mark so far this season didn’t stop him from stepping up to the line for a technical free throw against New Orleans on Monday.
“It depends on if Luka steps to the line or not,” Kidd said about who shoots the technical free throws. “The players figure out who should go to the line. I think Luka went last time and made it.
“Free throws would be an area where we need to get better. We’re getting there, we just got to convert them.”
Tim Hardaway Jr. is one of the team’s best at the line, but he said he defers on technical free throws.
“I guess the guy who’s got it going,” he said. “But when I’m in the game, I always let Jalen (Brunson) or Reggie (Bullock) shoot it. Basically, whoever has the hot hand for the most part.”
Green is good: You may have noticed that one of Reggie Bullock’s dreadlocks is green. He said there’s a reason. But also a happy coincidence.
“It’s a family thing,” he said. “I always do something different with my hair pretty much every year. And this year, I like the green.
“And it goes with some of our uniforms, too, so it’s pretty good.”