BOSTON – For a team that has had more than its fair share of struggles on the road in recent years, the Dallas Mavericks have acquitted themselves very well in hostile territory this season.
Through this season’s first four road games, the Mavs are unbeaten. That includes wins at New Orleans (123-1116), Denver (109-106), Cleveland (131-111) and on Saturday at Memphis (138-122).
In fact, the Mavs are the only team in the NBA that hasn’t lost a road game this season. So why have the tables turned for a team that won only nine road games in each of the last two seasons?
“A lot of credit goes to our guys,” coach Rick Carlisle said. “They’ve focused well, they’ve played well together, and they’ve stuck together, because on the road there’s going to be ups and downs.
“A lot of noise, a lot of momentum, stuff happening with the crowd, officiating and all that stuff.”
The Mavs have done so well away from home that three of their four highest scoring games this season have come on the road. That includes the 138 points they scored in Memphis, the 131 they put on the boards in Cleveland, and the 123 points they scored during their road opener in New Orleans.
Whatever is working when they’re away from home, the Mavs (6-3) hope the trend continues when they face the Boston Celtics on Monday at 6:30 p.m. at TD Garden. Obviously, this will be a stiff challenge for the Mavs since Boston is 3-0 at home and is tied with the Los Angeles Lakers for the best record in the NBA at 7-1.
Guard Tim Hardaway Jr. acknowledged that he doesn’t know why the Mavs have achieved so much success on the road, but surprisingly are only 2-3 in their own back yard at American Airlines Center.
“Everybody would say probably the level of focus,” Hardaway said. “But it should be (at home and on the road).
“We let a couple get away from us at home and we have to do a better job at home and continue to play how we play on the road.”
Other than their current success on the road, the only time the Mavs have opened the season with a better road record was during the 2002-’03 season when they won their first seven games away from AAC, which was in its second year of operation at the time.
To get to a franchise-record 8-0 on the road this season, not only will the Mavs have to win in Boston on Monday. But they’ll also have to win in New York on Thursday against the Knicks, collect a victory in Houston on Nov. 24, and secure a win in Phoenix on Nov. 29.
But, first things first. And that involves honing in on a Celtics’ team that will be without one of its best players – Gordon Hayward – who fractured his left hand during Saturday’s 135-115 victory in San Antonio.
“Just play the same way (and) play hard,” forward Justin Jackson said in explaining the continued recipe for success on the road. “Obviously it’s a really good team we’re going into. So just go in there playing together, playing hard and taking every possession serious and try to come up with the win.”
The last time the Mavs finished the season with a winning road on the road was during the 2014-’15 campaign when they were 23-18. That season, the Mavs were a seventh seed in the Western Conference – they were 27-14 at home — and wound up losing to the Houston Rockets in five games in the opening round of the playoffs.
Thus, if the Mavs can continue stacking wins on the road, they know that will increase their chances of qualifying for the playoffs. Particularly once they also get matters turned in their favor at home.
“We’ve done some good things, that’s obvious,” Carlisle said of his players. “To start the season, this is one of the favorable parts of our schedule in terms of opponents and so on.
“They’ve done well.”