Mavs will try to navigate daunting start to season

DALLAS — The sweet scent of basketball is in the air.

After a near-compete roster shakeup this offseason, the Dallas Mavericks are chomping at the bit to get back onto the hardwood while trying to return to the postseason, following a 41-41 mark that left them out of the playoffs for the first time in 13 years. Tuesday, the Mavericks learned just when that journey will officially begin, after the NBA announced the 2013-14 schedule.

Beginning the regular season at home against the Atlanta Hawks on Oct. 30, the Mavericks will then go on to match up with the best that the league has to offer. The team will also face off with All-Star big man Dwight Howard and the Houston Rockets just two nights later at the Toyota Center, before playing host to the free-agent big man that shunned Dallas this summer for its in-state rival Nov. 20 and Jan. 29.

The two-time defending champion Miami Heat and four-time MVP LeBron James will pay a visit to the American Airlines Center Feb. 18 to headline the Mavs’ home schedule. And after getting both Christmas Eve and Christmas Day off, the Mavericks will also welcome into their unfriendly confines Southwest Division rival and reigning Western Conference champion San Antonio on Dec. 26 prior to the Spurs’ return trip to town April 10 for a late-season contest that figures to have heavy playoff implications.

The Mavs will also face both the Los Angeles Lakers and the Oklahoma City Thunder just three times during the upcoming season, welcoming the Lakers to Big D twice on Nov. 5 and Jan. 7 for some southern hospitality before the Thunder travels down Interstate 35 just once on March 25. That matchup with the Thunder highlights a season-long, eight-game homestand from March 17 through April 1, which also includes games versus Boston, Minnesota, Denver, Brooklyn, the L.A. Clippers, Sacramento and Golden State.

Vice versa, the team will embark on its longest road trip of the season Dec. 4-11 while making stops in New Orleans, Portland, Sacramento and Golden State in a month that features eight outings away from home.

But it’s the month of November, which will feature a season-high tying 17 games, that may give the Mavericks the most difficulty while navigating through a tough start to the schedule.

Like last season, the Mavs will play 16 total back-to-backs during the grueling 82-game stretch with 12 coming prior to the All-Star break. Six back-to-backs are on the road, five begin at home and conclude on the road and five are of the road-to-home variety.

With that said, November will showcase six back-to-backs as the Mavs play the sixth hardest schedule in the league during the first month when comparing the 53.7 win percentage of opponents from a season ago, according to STATS. Still, with the schedule figuring to work in their favor down the road, the Mavericks could place themselves in a good position to earn a playoff spot simply by surviving the daunting start.

For information on full season, half and mini packages, call 214-747-MAVS for the best available seating and ticket plans in American Airlines Center. Click here for the Mavericks’ full 2013-14 schedule.