Hey! Look! The Mavericks are playing well!
They're scoring at a high rate, retooling their offense to maximize the roster, Chandler Parsons looks more like the guy as the season keeps progressing and Dirk Nowitzki has had about four games in a row without looking like he's about to explode into dust.
Well guess what -- I'm here to tell you it's about to get real shitty.
March 7: home vs. the LA Clippers
March 9: home vs. Detroit
March 12: home vs. Indiana
March 14: away against Charlotte
March 16: away against Cleveland
March 18: home vs. Golden State
March 20: home vs. Portland
March 23: away against Portland
March 25: away against Golden State
Yikes. Yikes with a big, bright, vibrating, capital Y. That's nine straight games against teams currently in the playoffs. The Mavs are just 3-11 in games against playoff teams since the new year started. This could get ugly.
It's not insane to think the Mavs could drop all nine of those games. I suggested as much in our MMB email chain, although I'm also a massive pessimist and odds say the Mavs won't have a soul-torturing losing streak to knock them out of the playoffs. But it could be really bad.
In that stretch of games, what are the reasonable teams the Mavs could beat? Probably Detroit, Indiana, Charlotte and maybe Portland once. The problem is the Mavs have been toasted by Charlotte and Indiana already, Detroit has athleticism at every position and Portland is now a supernova. For a team that can't beat good teams, there's just no way to spin nine straight games against good teams.
Things happen in the NBA: injuries, off nights, etc. The Mavs will more than likely grab three to four wins (maybe five!) in that stretch, upset the Clippers (who they've beat before) or the weirdly off Cavs (who they took to overtime) and be no worse for the wear than before the stretch started.
I'm just nervous. While the Mavs have enjoyed success this last week, it's been against horrible teams. The offense has looked great (121.6 offensive rating in the last five games) until you look at who they've played -- the 76ers, Nuggets, Timberwolves and Magic. All of those teams are putrid. They all feature a bunch of non-shooters and inexperienced defenders. That's the worry -- the Mavs are fattening themselves up against these buffet-quality teams only to be gutted and slaughtered for the hungry contenders in the next nine games.
Yet, as pessimistic as the next stretch of games looks, it probably won't be that bad. David Lee has added some juice to the offense that has shown more structural progress past the point of beating bad defenses, the Parsons thing has been happening for weeks now, not days and Dallas is finally starting to ween itself off of Zaza Pachulia who has been overextended and overexposed, bless his barbarian heart.
Hell, they already survived that nightmarish hellscape that was their January schedule still with a playoff spot. This team just finds way to tread water and I'm not entirely sure if that's a compliment or not, to be honest.
Plus, it's not like the Mavericks have been beating the doors off bad teams a lot this year -- any blowout for this overachieving group is a good sign, so perhaps the recent play really is a sign they're turning things around.
I just can't help but keep looking at that schedule. It's terrifying. It haunts my dreams. For better or worse, we'll know who these Dallas Mavericks really are by the end of it.