The Mavericks are 2-6, with nine games remaining in November. Four of those games come against the Clippers, the Cavaliers and the Spurs twice. What will their record be at the end of the month, and how should Mavericks fans be feeling headed into December?
Bailey Rogers: I think the Mavs will be at 5-12 at the end of November. As for how fans should feel, I think that depends on how you react to ongoing realization that this probably isn't a playoff team. My reaction is a sort of indifferent reservation. I don't even know if I expect the Mavs to finish at .500, but I am looking forward to seeing Barnes and the younger guys on this roster growing and learning this season.
Other people will react to 5-12 differently. Some will be frustrated. Others disappointed or sad. Others may see this as a sign of the times, and be happy that the direction of the franchise may finally shift in favor of valuing the future. I think these are all valid responses. Ultimately, I think you're setting yourself up for disappointment if you continue to hope that this team will turn a corner and compete for a second round playoff appearance. But that's not all bad — I definitely think this team can learn to play fun basketball, and as a fan, that's all I really want.
Doyle Rader: I can see the Mavs winning around four more games this month. Conversely, I can see them winning zero games for the rest of the month. It's really going to depend on getting the team healthy. That's the most important thing.
Heading into December, fans should be looking to celebrate the spirit of the holiday season and send well wishes to the Mavs. Things might look bleak but there's no reason not to enjoy this team. The young players are fun and a few look like they have a strong upside. Carlisle is still the coach. Harrison Barnes is balling. And Dirk is always going to be Dirk. Enjoy the games.
Danny Webster: I'll base this on if Dirk is back Monday at The Garden. Dallas can squeeze out six wins over the next nine, including a four-game winning streak against New York, Boston, Memphis and Orlando. The rest is a crapshoot against the contenders, but there's a chance Dallas can get to 8-9 heading into December, which would be the best-case scenario, at the moment.
This team is struggling, but it's fun. Young guys are getting minutes, and Harrison Barnes looks like a star. Fans should enjoy watching this team, regardless of how bad the record looks. And if by some chance Dallas is 8-9 heading into next month, it's going to get a lot better.
Michael Chang: The only game that is close to a gimme for November is the Pelicans at home. The Knicks are gettable on Monday but Dirk is probably 50-50 to go. The remaining teams are .500 and up so the Mavs need some upsets. So let's say 4-13 or 5-12. I think given the injuries to Dirk, D-Will, Harris and Wes Matthews' offensive game, things aren't too surprising when it comes to wins and losses. The margin of error for the Mavs is thin.
Looking to December, it's just a lot friendlier than the rest of November. There's some easier opponents, play seven of the first ten games at home and have no back-to-backs until the 19th so there's a good two week-plus window for the Mavs find their roll if they're healthy. Mavs fans have to feel great about Harrison Barnes in his first month and he should keep trending up. Curry and Anderson have shown flashes and they should only get more consistent. Hopefully, we see a lot more Dirk, too. If Matthews is still cold through November with Dirk and D-Will back, that'd be a little worrisome.
Ian Cobb: 5-12 or 4-13 seems like a good projection based on what we've seen. This stretch of games was going to be tough even if the team was at full strength and in midseason form. While the back-to-back wins against non-playoff teams from earlier this week gave us a glimmer of hope, there are still obvious deficiencies on the roster, and a long way to go before Rick Carlisle finds the right fits with his rotations. Given that the team has looked by far its best with Barnes at the 4 flanked in the frontcourt by two defense-first guys, one wonders how exactly Dirk — once he's returned — fits in that equation.
It feels like a million years ago, but I believe I was one of those people who thought this Dallas team could be good, but also had a wide range of potential outcomes, several of which were ugly. At this stage, I have to admit I'm transitioning to a point where losses feel less like losses and more like lottery balls piling up. I'll understand why other fans aren't ready to go there, but if the New Year approaches and the team is 12-15 games under .500, or worse, it's probably time to start thinking ahead. Because in this sport, if you can't be good, you might as well be very, very bad.
Josh Bowe: Presumably, you can count on the Clippers, Cavs and Spurs games to be losses so that's four. That gives you five games left against New York, Memphis, Orlando, New Orleans and Boston. I can see five to four wins there. New York is weird, Memphis is still putting the new coach and pieces together, New Orleans is somehow worse than the Mavs and Boston is banged up.
I'll say they'll finish at 6-11, which looks terrible but isn't the end of the world. I'm not ready to start counting lottery balls until they start dropping some games against some truly bad teams -- that win at LA this week is looking better by the day and hopefully can be a turning point. If the Mavs take care of business against those five average teams and can put up some sort of fight against the four contenders, Mavs fans should feel somewhat hopeful especially with the return of Dirk. If they look bad against Orlando or New Orleans? Then we can panic.