I've pointed out multiple times that the Dallas Mavericks face the toughest schedule of all teams and it seems like they can't catch a break since the All-Star Game. They took a little breather after the brutal stretch of nine games in twelve nights, playing the lowly Charlotte Bobcats and Washington Wizards, but count in the win against the San Antonio Spurs on Saturday and they face ten playoff teams until April, 6th. Lakers, Rockets, Heat, Magic, Clippers... you name them.
But... So What?
The Mavericks actually are one of the best teams in the league when facing strong opposition. Count out the first two games when the Champs were caught by surprise that the season already had started and they rank 3rd in Efficiency Differential (+5.34 Points Per 100 Possessions) and play the league-best defense (98.28 PP100). In fact, the Mavs are the only team that allows under 100 points per 100 possessions against playoff teams. Next best are the 76ers (100.94). Teams barely score in the paint and off free throws (58.55 PP100 - 5th) and average the fewest assists (20.30 P100), while also shooting only 41.89% (2nd best).
Against Western Conference playoff foes, the Mavs still rank 5th overall, their defense drops to 100.22, which still is league-best, and opposing teams shoot 42.18% (2nd). These numbers only translate into 10-10 against playoff teams (6-8 vs. the West) since December, 29th, because the Mavs clutch numbers aren't anywhere near last years and therefore lost a lot of close games.
This might be another proof why the problem this season is clearly the schedule intensity and not the quality of opponents. The Mavericks are good enough to compete against the best, but fell to mediocre teams during their 9in12 stretch. That resulted in a 2-7 record in these games, but the numbers show that shouldn't repeat in the remaining nine games of the current stretch.