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The dreaded six game road trip starts tonight. And because the trip ends with road/home back-to-back, it will feel like a seven game trip in eleven days.

Phoenix, now four game backs of Dallas again after losing to Detroit and Denver, plays a really soft schedule over their next six -- MIN, SAC, SAC, MEM, GSW, DET. And then Dallas. If the Mavs struggle on this road trip, that game will make Wednesdays game seem forgettable. This is a huge stretch and the Mavs better hope to find their form again soon, like by 2:30 when they tip-off against Detroit.

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Sefko writes about the road trip, saying the Mavs need to focus on improving their defense.

The Mavericks have the best road winning percentage in the NBA, having gone 22-7 so far. But this circumstance is different for them. It's one month until the regular season ends. There are 18 games left. Now is the time to start zeroing in on the playoffs.

And the Mavericks have lost their defensive grit in the last few games, which will be the primary focus going into the trip.

"Guys still aren't happy with where we are," Johnson said. "We need a breakthrough game. We need to put some quarters together defensively. We had a stretch where we were awfully good defensively, and we've hit a little lull. We're a very, very good defensive team when we play right."
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Ray Buck has a really enjoyable article about Stackhouse and Dirk Nowitzki.
"When everything is going good, there's not a whole lot you need to say," Stackhouse said. "But I felt a lull in that first half [a 54-44 halftime deficit] and I knew it was time for me to be a little more vocal.

"I mean, it's not just going to happen through osmosis," Stackhouse continued. "Dirk wasn't really into it. He was just kind of floating.

"So, I said to him, `Man, we've got your back. Just do your thing.' And he did."

"[Nowitzki] is a huge part of my coming here and accepting this [sixth man] role," Stackhouse said. "In my 12 years, I've played with some so-called `great' players -- labeled by the media -- but the only guy that I realistically feel I have a chance to win a championship with is Dirk."
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Today's Daily Dime at ESPN.com is all about the Detroit/Dallas game, with the focus on whether or not it's a preview of the NBA Finals.

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Injury Update: Greg Buckner and Devean George both traveled with the team to Detroit, but it doesn't sound like wither will play because Avery's main concern is their health in the playoffs.
"No matter what kind of winning streak you're on, no matter what kind of momentum you're going on into the playoffs, it really doesn't matter. If you're healthy, and you're the best team mentally and physically, you're going to win it."