Scheduling plays a vital role in determining a team's regular season record after 82 games. Although all teams follow the same pattern, the placement of the pattern is where it's tricky. You may start the season against contenders and then finish it off against rebuilding teams, or the opposite, or quite simply a random mix.
The season is not a sprint race, but it's a marathon. Dealing with the schedule is one way of adjusting to the season in general, as teams hope to take the best strategy possible in approaching it. One extra obstacle which defines the regular season, simply put.
Dallas, for some point in the season, held the fifth seed in the West after an underdog-like start which had them surge across expectations to defy the usual prediction. However, after coming across their most difficult portion of the season, they lost nine games in a space of 25 days, while winning just eight. That dropped them down to seventh seed, but they jumped back up to sixth seed by the time of the All-Star break.
For a playoff team and a team by Dallas' standards, a negative record in the most recent month is frustrating. Of course, recent struggles cannot be fully blamed on the scheduling, as some of the losses were just simply on the Mavs' costly errors. Dallas didn't show any effort in some of the matches which led to a straight-out destruction at the hands of opponents. You could say that there very impressive and pure wins here and there, but it was a bad month in the end.
The Mavs were just struggling and crawling towards the All-Star break to get a much-needed rest, as fatigue began to play its role. Injuries every few days in that time also came at a damaging period, which increased the weight on the active players' shoulders.
Back to scheduling, every team is bound to face the tough parts and the walk-in-the-park parts. The Mavs, luckily, have upcoming games which can catapult them into a potential winning streak. Not just that, these games are coming right after the 10-day gap in their All-Star break, giving them the time to relax and refresh then to come back out rolling.
Everyone would have loved to see Dirk Nowitzki play in the All-Star game this year for a 13th time. Throughout his career, it has nearly been a given. Yes, it came as a disappointment for us to witness Dirk not being selected, but it's truly a blessing in disguise.
It could be admitted that this current team relies more times than probably supposed to on the aging Dirk, yet he has to be given rest. That's a problem for Dallas, dealing with back-to-back games concerning Dirk. Then again, isn't it a great feeling to see Dirk go out and dominate at such an age?
Despite loving to see him catch a pass from Stephen Curry and dunking it in the All-Star game, focus should be diverted to actual wins and a view in the long run, although it's difficult to detach ourselves from Nowitzki's moments in the All-Star game. With the much needed rest, the Mavericks can hit the ground running. The equation between this schedule and some time off really isn't exact, but let's just be glad that the tough, tough January and early February is behind us. Here's the team's next seven games.
|Feb. 19||at Orlando|
|Feb. 21||vs. Philadelphia|
|Feb. 24||vs. Oklahoma City|
|Feb. 26||vs. Denver|
|Feb. 28||vs. Minnesota|
|March 1||vs. Orlando|
|March 3||vs. Sacramento|
Oklahoma City is the first real threat of the upcoming schedule, but a win can be dealt with. Last time out against them, the Mavs lost in a heartbreaking fashion, but maybe this time could be different. A strong win there would give Dallas some important confidence, and with two days of rest, maybe this is where Dallas can earn an upset.
After that, Dallas take on Denver, Minnesota, Orlando (again), Sacramento, Denver (again), Clippers (DEANDRE!), Detroit, Indiana, Charlotte. NINE (!) home games in that time, including a six match homestand.
All the teams in that last paragraph would have Dallas as favorites, except for the Clippers one. See now, Dallas and DeAndre Jordan don't go along well. Roaring fans, revenge, and that Dallas already beat L.A previously this season, has me believing that they can do it again.
Yes, the Mavs lost to some teams mentioned above, but this time is different since they're hosting them in the American Airlines Center. The trickiest opponent is Detroit due to the fact that the Mavs struggle with top-rebounding players. Dallas still haven't faced Detroit this season, but Andre Drummond is a force to be reckoned with. Drummond can't really hold the entire team on his shoulders, but he gets his team flowing when he dominates.
These total 12 upcoming matches mentioned could all be won, as nearly all teams there are not even playoff teams, or moderately close to the 8th seed. But that's on paper, and you still have to play. A game is not settled on who's favorite and who's not, or who's hot and who's not. Anything can happen. For example, Dallas thrashed the Golden State Warriors but somehow lost to the Charlotte Hornets (who were on a losing run at the time) and the 20-32 New Orleans Pelicans.
It's certain and unquestionable that coach Carlisle is much more aware of the upcoming matches and a potential winning streak than the presumed outlook. Despite the break, Carlisle is undoubtedly already prepared and ready to see this happen by using different rotations, quick adjustments, fine tunes and a voice ready to fire the team up.
The Mavs are also critical of possibly losing more matches and maybe even drop out of the playoff seeding, and they know that they need to get wins. The only way their confidence will truly build up is by a win streak, and the setting for that win streak is perfect at this time.
The Mavs need to use their upcoming schedule as an advantage. It would be a shame if it turns out to oppose such expectations, and instead they lose embarrassingly. Hopefully, that's not the case ... since Dallas desperately need wins.