As the Mavs prepare to play four of their next five at the AAC, it’s time to play a little fact or fiction for some of the biggest stories right now and also some prognostications about the team’s outlook in the Western Conference playoff chase this season.

Monta Ellis will lead the team in scoring this season.

Currently, Ellis leads the Mavs with 20.7 points per game, followed by Dirk Nowitzki in second at 19.6 per. No Maverick aside from Dirk has led the team in scoring since the turn of the millennium, which is all the evidence you need to go with Nowitzki… right? Wrong. Ellis will lead the team in points per game this season. That’s a FACT, although with a caveat.

Dirk leads the main rotation players in points per 36 minutes 24.0, followed by Monta at 21.9. However, Nowitzki’s per-game average has relatively suffered because he’s playing just 29.4 minutes in 2014-15, fourth-most on the team. Ellis, meanwhile, leads the team with 33.9 minutes a game. I’d love to see both players receive that amount of minutes for the rest of the season, though those numbers might trend upward later in the season as games get closer and more important in the playoff picture.

It will be the end of an era if Monta does indeed end up as the team’s scoring champion. At this point, it’s either going to be him or Nowitzki, as third-place Chandler Parsons averages almost five points per game fewer than Dirk. We have a two-horse race on our hands for points leader, but the great thing about both players is I’m fairly sure neither care who leads the team. Besides, it seems like a different player leads the team in points each different game, anyway.

Dirk Nowitzki will continue sitting out some second legs of back-to-backs.

Nowitzki sat out the game against Philadelphia Saturday night for rest and he missed last night’s contest in Milwaukee for the same reason. After playing a season-high 42 minutes against the Bulls on Tuesday, it’s no surprise Dirk wasn’t called to action against the Bucks. He needs his rest, because his health and stamina are more important than one win. Therefore, it’s a FACT.

I’d be lying if I said I didn’t want to see Dirk play every second of every game for the rest of my life, but the fact is he’s in his mid-30s and his physical prime is behind him. Dirk would be the first to tell you that. At this point in his career, there’s no need to play 70 minutes in two days unless the Mavericks absolutely need him. A time will come when that might be the case, but that’s not the case in December. It almost never is.

That doesn’t mean, however, that Dirk will sit out every single latter end of a back-to-back. Say, for example, the Mavs win or lose big in Memphis on Tuesday night, the day before they play at home against New Orleans. Dirk will likely suit up for action. However, if Nowitzki has to play 40 minutes against the Grizzlies in order for Dallas to win, he might sit the Pelicans contest out. It’s a difficult decision for Rick Carlisle to make, because obviously you want your best players to play as much as possible, but it’s equally important to manage and maintain Nowitzki’s conditioning and health for an entire 82-game season and, ideally, a deep playoff run.

A .750 winning percentage will only be good for fifth place in the Western Conference come April.

The West is deeeep this season. The 15-5 Mavs are only in fifth place in the conference and 11-8 Phoenix sits in eighth place. However, it’s mathematically impossible for this pace to continue, so that’s FICTION.

There’s simply no way that five teams will finish with 60 wins in the West. Much like the SEC West, these teams are just going to beat up on each other and only one or two will come out scoff-free with 60+ wins. It’d be great if Dallas was one of those clubs, but that’s going to be a challenging task. With teams like Golden State, Memphis, and the Clippers ahead of the Mavs in the standings, Dallas has some work to do not only to climb the table, but stay atop it once Dallas gets there. This regular season is going to be an absolute beating for every team out West.

Last season, it took 49 wins to make the playoffs in the West. There’s a very real chance that will be the case again this season, although the conference is even deeper than it was last year so wins could be spread out a bit more, making the cost to qualify only 46 or 47 games. If that’s the case, Dallas is already in great shape. Say, for example, 46 games will buy you the 8-seed. Dallas is already almost one-third of the way there. Obviously, as Dirk Nowitzki said this summer, no one in the organization is interested in finishing in eighth place, but the ultimate goal is always to qualify for the postseason, and the Mavs have done well out of the gates to put themselves in position to make it.

It WILL NOT take 20 wins against the East to make the playoffs this season in the West.

If 46 is the magic number we’re going to roll with, we’ll need to figure out where those wins will come from. The Mavs will play 30 games against Eastern Conference teams this season and 52 against Western foes. In 2013-14, every single West playoff team won at least 20 against the East, and so did ninth-place Phoenix. I don’t expect that to change, so it’s FICTION.

Wins simply come at a premium in the West, and the conference is off to an unbelievable start against its counterpart in 2014-15. Out of the 15 Western Conference teams, just four of them have losing records against the East this season. Twenty wins is certainly a difficult mark to achieve, mind you (it’s a .667 win percentage), but it’s one Dallas must reach. The Mavs are well on their way through the first leg of the season, as they’ve gone 9-2 against the East to this point. Extrapolated across 30 games, that comes out to a 25-5 record.

On paper that’s a tall order, but considering Dallas has four wins against the East’s top six already, nothing is out of the question. Meanwhile, the Mavs have played just nine games against Western Conference foes to this point, meaning there are plenty of difficult games ahead for the Mavs. But if Dallas can win 25 games against the East, that means the Mavs only need to go 21-31 against the West to make the playoffs. That’s crazy. If you do the math, that means 20-10 versus the East would require a 26-26 record against the West. Taking care of business out East will make the road to the playoffs that much easier. You’ve got to snatch up wins whenever you can and, this season, just like many before, that means beating the East is a must.

Dirk Nowitzki will bust out of his shooting slump very soon.

This is a question that doesn’t need much answering, but it’s obviously a FACT.

Dirk has hit less than 46 percent of his field goal attempts in three consecutive games, and that’s a rarity in his career. But it’s also no reason to panic. At the start of last season, Nowitzki went seven games in a row hitting below 46 percent, which tied for the second-longest stretch of his career, per Basketball-Reference. And we all remember how last season ended for him: just a tick below another 50/40/90 campaign. Dirk is a super-mega-ultrastar, and sometimes even those guys go through rough patches.

But greener pastures aren’t far away. Nowitzki has shot 59 percent from the field at home this season, and with four of the next five at the AAC, I’m assuming the Big German has a couple big shooting nights in the works. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if that started Friday night against Phoenix. Dirk will be well-rested after the Chicago game and I’m sure he’ll be ready to bust out of his mini-slump with authority.

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