The Dallas Mavericks have started the season a disastrous 1-7. Are they bad? Yes. Are they this bad? We’re going to find out this month, because the schedule is absolutely brutal.
There are 14 games to play in November, with eight contests at home and six on the road. Nine match ups come against Western conference opponents, with five versus Eastern conference foes. There are also three back to backs spread through out the month. They play 13 different teams, all of whom have better winning percentages than the Mavericks right now.
Each game will get a difficulty level: EASY, NORMAL, HARD and (rarely) VERY HARD. With Dallas performing as they have thus far, it becomes increasingly more challenging to realistically paint the Mavericks as the favorites in any game they play.
Wednesday Nov. 1 at LA Clippers - Hard - Without Chris Paul, the Clippers are playing with more joy than they have in years. Blake Griffin has evolved into a dark horse MVP candidate mainly through upping his three-point shot volume. Former Rocket Patrick Beverly could give Dennis Smith Jr. fits as well. The Mavericks would be lucky to get out of LA with a win.
Friday Nov. 3 vs. New Orleans Pelicans - Medium - The Pelicans feature the fearsome front court pairing of Anthony Davis and DeMarcus Cousins, and the Mavericks do not match up well on paper. However, the rest of the Pelican roster is thin, with Jrue Holiday as the only real threat. While the Pelicans could kill the Mavericks on the glass, the rest of the Dallas roster could counter the superstar statistical volume from Davis and Cousins. The Mavericks will need a big defensive night from both Nerlens Noel and Harrison Barnes to pull out the win. Call this one a toss up.
Saturday Nov. 4 at Minnesota Timberwolves - Medium - The Wolves are still figuring it out, despite having a healthy mix of young talent (Karl Anthony Towns, Andrew Wiggins) and veteran moxie (Jimmy Butler). The Mavericks have better guards, but the wings of the Wolves could spell trouble for Dallas. Towns could prove to be the deciding factor in a game that could be tight to the end. That this is a road game tilts the odds in favor of the Wolves.
Tuesday Nov. 7 at Washington Wizards - Hard - The Wizards are one of the best teams in a shallow conference. John Wall and Bradley Beal are going to be a massive challenge for the Dallas backcourt. The Wizards aren’t particularly deep, however, so Dallas stands a pretty good chance of scoring an upset after a few days rest.
Saturday Nov. 11 vs. Cleveland Cavaliers - Hard - The Cavaliers are struggling now, but if they’re still struggling in two weeks and if they struggle against Dallas, it will be a shock. Since the 2011 Finals, the Dallas Mavericks have beaten a Lebron-led team just once. The Mavericks’ yearly inability to defend the three will be problematic against the Cavaliers. But the Cavaliers can’t defend a park bench, so it wouldn’t be a surprise if Dallas hangs around on the strength of the three-point shot. Still, the Cavaliers should win this one.
Sunday Nov. 12 at OKC Thunder - Very Hard - MVP Russell Westbrook paired with Paul George and Carmelo Anthony is not a trio the Dallas Mavericks can hope to defend in any version of the multiverse. That it’s the second night of a back to back and on the road adds insult to injury. Expect the Mavericks to get destroyed.
Tuesday Nov. 14 vs. San Antonio Spurs - Hard - Death, taxes, the Spurs being obnoxiously good despite any and all changes to their team. The Mavericks always play the Spurs well, but San Antonio is taller, deeper, and more talented.
Friday Nov. 17 vs. Minnesota Timberwolves - Medium - If the Wolves win the first match up, I suspect the Mavericks respond with a win of their own. The same notes apply, barring any real changes to the rosters.
Saturday Nov. 18 vs. Milwaukee Bucks - Hard - The Mavericks have no one to guard Giannis Antetokounmpo. Of course, neither do most teams in the league, but I fear the MVP front runner could bury the Mavericks early since Dallas is playing on the back end of a back to back.
Monday Nov. 20 vs. Boston Celtics - Hard - This will be the third game in four nights for the Mavericks and the Celtics. From top to bottom, Boston a great deal of talent and can throw any number of line ups at Dallas, but it could be a tough night for both teams.
Wednesday Nov. 22 at Memphis Grizzlies - Hard - As we all know, the Mavericks and Grizzlies split contests in October on the rare home-and-home back to back. How one feels about this game depends on whether you feel the Maverick performance in the win or loss is more indicative of their play. The Dallas win saw the Mavericks keep the rebounding competitive and they shot lights out. The loss saw the Grizzlies kill Dallas on the glass, which was the key stat by game’s end. Given that this game is in Memphis, that gives them the edge.
Saturday Nov. 25 vs. Oklahoma City Thunder - Very Hard - The Thunder again? With everyone in a post Thanksgiving haze? No, thanks. Thunder win.
Monday Nov. 27 at San Antonio Spurs - Hard - The Spurs again? This is getting to be silly, don’t you think? Once again, the Mavericks will play the Spurs hard, but given that it’s in their house and the Mavericks don’t seem to be very good, San Antonio should win.
Wednesday Nov. 29 vs. Brooklyn Nets - Medium - This is one prediction I’ll get killed for in the comments. “It’s the Nets! The Nets are bad!” someone will say. Well, they have been bad. They may be bad. But they also have no incentive to lose. Teams that play for pride are dangerous as hell, and considering Dallas could be at a truly disastrous point in the season, in terms of schedule, ranking this game as “Easy” is disrespectful, because it won’t be.
One hates to bring up a 1-7 start again, but here we are. Given the quality of opponents this month, compared to October at least, anything beyond five wins would be outstanding.
Last month, one comment stated “If this is a tough schedule for us, then we are going to get one of Porter, Bagley or Doncic for sure.” I hate to be that directly pessimistic, but I’m forced to agree. The Dallas Mavericks probably aren’t as bad as this month’s schedule suggests. But they aren’t much better either.