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Mavericks Sweet 16? Breaking Down the Schedule

The Dallas Mavericks can see the finish line for the regular season, but there are still a lot of challenges to be faced before they can reach the end. Dallas is three wins away from an 11th consecutive season with at least 50 wins. Only the San Antonio Spurs (13 consecutive playoff appearances, 14th is this coming this season) have a longer active streak. Dallas is just the fourth franchise (since the NBA went to an 82-game schedule in 1967) to record at least 10 consecutive 50-plus win seasons. Currently, the Mavericks’ streak of 10 consecutive postseason appearances is the third-longest streak of its kind. The Spurs (12 consecutive seasons) are the only other team with an active streak of at least 10 straight seasons with 50 or more wins.

Catching the Spurs for the division title is likely a pipe dream, but the Mavericks have the Los Angeles Lakers breathing down their neck for the No. 2 seed in the Western Conference. Here is a breakdown of the final 16 games the Mavericks have on their schedule.

Home games: Seven games. Going back to training camp, Rick Carlisle said that protecting their home court was a priority. The Mavericks currently have a record 24-10 at the American Airlines Center. Their home record in the 2009-10 season was 28-13.

Longest home-stand: Three games. The Mavericks last extended home-stand will be March 18-March 24. They will face the San Antonio Spurs, Golden State Warriors and Minnesota Timberwolves. No matter how the playoff seeding finishes out, the game with the Spurs is always an important match-up.

Road games: Nine games. The road warrior mentality will have a chance to grow as the regular season winds down. Dallas will look to improve on their 23-9 road record. The road record is tied with the San Antonio Spurs for the best road record in the NBA.

Longest road trip: Six games. Between March 26-April 3, the Mavericks will head West on a major road trip as they go up against the Utah Jazz, Phoenix Suns, Los Angeles Clippers, Los Angeles Lakers, Golden State Warriors and Portland Trail Blazers. That will be a daunting challenge for the Mavericks.

vs. Western Conference: 16 games. Dallas will control their fate in the Western Conference as the remainder of their games will be within their conference.

vs. Eastern Conference:  Zero games. The Mavericks finished with a record of 22-8 against the Eastern Conference, same record as 2009-2010)

vs. Southwest Division: Three games. They will face off against the San Antonio Spurs, Houston Rockets and New Orleans Hornets. The match-up against the Hornets will be the final game for the Mavericks and could go a long way in determining who the Mavericks will face in the first round of the playoffs.

vs. the Lakers: One game. The battle for the second seed will continue on March 31 at the Staples Center. The Mavericks look to win the tie-breaker against the Lakers in that final game. Based on how the previous two games have played out, it should be an interesting finale. Unfortunately for the Mavericks, the game against the Lakers will be on the second night of a back-to-back as they play the Los Angeles Clippers the night before. For the Lakers, the Mavericks game will be the first night of a back-to-back as they play in Utah against the Jazz the following night. The Lakers will have three days off before the game against the Mavericks.

vs. +.500 teams: Nine games. The Mavericks currently have a record of 23-11 (.676) against plus-.500 teams this season. Dallas was 28-19 (.596) against teams with a winning record in 2009-10. The Mavericks had a losing record against plus-.500 teams in both 2008-09 and 2007-08. The Mavericks will see the Portland Trail Blazers and Phoenix Suns twice. They will also see the San Antonio Spurs, Utah Jazz, Los Angeles Lakers, Denver Nuggets and New Orleans Hornets.

vs. -.500 teams: Seven games. The Mavericks handle their business as they have a record of 22-5 (.815) against -.500 teams this season. Dallas was 28-9 (.757) against teams with a losing record in 2009-10. Out of the seven games, the Mavericks will see the Golden State Warriors three times and Los Angeles Clippers twice. The Minnesota Timberwolves and Houston Rockets make up the other two games.