As a whole, the Mavericks start easy and finish tough. In particular, April stands out as a month that could swing the Mavericks up or down in the playoff picture. They'll play eight games that month, all against Western Conference teams and six of them against possible playoff contenders.
It starts with three games in four nights against playoff teams from last year: a road visit to Oklahoma City (April 1) and a home game against Houston (April 2) before hosting Golden State on April 4. Next comes a visit with Phoenix (still at the AAC) and a trip to Denver, two teams that are very likely to be competing for playoff spots, perhaps on the outside looking in. When the teams get easier, the schedule doesn't: the Mavs have a road back-to-back against the LA Lakers and Utah on April 12 and 13. Finally, the Mavericks host Portland to close the season.
March doesn't have much in terms of "easy teams," either. They'll play Indiana, Orlando and the Lakers that month, while facing San Antonio twice, Oklahoma City, Cleveland and the Los Angeles Clippers.
Team difficulty aside, the schedule itself isn't ridiculously tough. The longest road trip is four games, with six three-game trips mixed in throughout the season. October and November offer a chance for a quick start, with games against Utah (2), Boston, Sacramento, Philadelphia and Minnesota in the first 10.
Considering the final two months, the Mavericks would be wise to build up a bit of an advantage heading into the 2015 calendar year. Without consulting the schedules of other Western Conference teams, I suspect Dallas could be a top four seed in the West on Jan. 1 if they play up to expectations.
At a glance
- The first home game is Oct. 30 against Utah. The last game is a home match-up against Portland on April 15.
- Chandler Parsons returns to Houston on Nov. 22 -- the first meeting between the two sides. The Rockets come to Dallas on Feb. 20 and again on April 2.
- LeBron James comes to Dallas just once, of course, on March 10. The Mavericks will first face that super team on Jan. 4 in Cleveland, though.
- After opening the season against the Spurs, the Mavericks host San Antonio on Dec. 20. The two teams finish their season with a home-and-home series on March 24 and 27.
- If you missed it, the NBA has extended the All-Star break to a full week. The Mavericks won't play any games between Feb. 11 and Feb. 19.
- The Mavericks will play 18 nationally televised games, although seven are on NBA TV which kind of don't even count. The teams at the front are the Los Angeles Clippers and Oklahoma City with 32 each, while the Bulls have 30 and Cleveland has 29. If you don't count for NBA TV games, Chicago, Cleveland and Oklahoma City all tie with 25 games (here's a full list).
- Back to backs! Seventeen of them, after playing 16 last season. Four back-to-backs in January is the most they play in any one month.
- The Mavericks do get their Christmas holiday off, and play a three-game homestand starting Dec. 26, so there's plenty of time to spend with the family.
- For some reason, there's always a home-and-home against Denver. This year, it's Jan. 14 and 16, first in Denver and then at the AAC.
Top ten home games
I know a lot of people out there share season ticket packages, either at work or with friends. Need to start making claims on certain games? Here's ten you really want to be at in the grand ol' American Airlines Center.
10. Dallas vs. NY Knicks, Nov. 26
It's an ESPN-televised game and features the return of Shane Larkin! Isn't that enough!?
9. Dallas vs. Boston, Nov. 3
This is the second home game the Mavericks play, so the newness of the Chandlers can still be felt in the air when you settle into your seats at the AAC.
8. Dallas vs. Miami, Nov. 9
Never miss a chance to boo Dwyane Wade. You know the drill. Also, the third home game, if you aren't able to get tickets for the first two.
7. Dallas vs. Phoenix, April 8
Second-to-last home game of the regular season. Remember how great that Mavs-Suns game was to clinch a playoff spot last season? I think we might be in for a repeat performance.
6. Dallas vs. Cleveland, March 10
Whether you want to boo King James or marvel at the ridiculous full-court outlet passes he's receiving from Kevin Love, you know you want to see this new LeBron-led Big Three. Here's your one chance this season.
5. Dallas vs. Utah, Oct. 30
The season home opener. Probably your first chance to see the Chandlers in action together with Dirk and Monta, barring a trip down to San Antonio. The second home game will be cool, but you can't top this.
4. Dallas vs. Houston, Feb. 20
The first home game against Houston should be real fun. These two teams have consistently put together fantastic performances against each other over the past couple of years, and with Chandler Parsons now in the mix, this should be no different.
3. Dallas vs. San Antonio, Dec. 20
First home game against the Spurs since a rousing Game 6 victory last May. The Mavericks won't have DeJuan Blair, so I'm not sure how they can possibly hope to compete, but this could be a fun one.
2. Dallas vs. Portland, April 15
Last game of the season, at home, against a fellow West playoff team that might be a slot above or below Dallas? Yes. Of course, there's a chance the Mavericks already have the no. 1 seed locked up and don't even need to bother here, but....wait, why are you looking at me like that?
1. Dallas vs. Houston, April 2
Unlike the final game, which may or may not mean anything, this one is almost sure to have major playoff implications. Two West playoff teams, two in-state rivals, close enough to the end of the season that things are starting to get chippy but far enough away there's still time to move up or down. If there's one game to be at this season, this is it. See you guys there.