We’re inching our way toward what looks to be an exciting Dallas Mavericks season. Luka Doncic has ascended to superstardom and this team looks primed to be a threat to everyone. Not only that, they may even lock in homecourt advantage along the way.
But before we get ahead of ourselves, it’s always fun to look at the path to get there. The NBA released the schedule for the first half of this condensed season, and the Mavericks will star frequently on the national stage.
As fans are wont to do, we circle key matchups and fun superstar battles. But as with every season there will be headscratcher games, a few blown leads, and a couple games that make us throw our remote through a window and scream WHAT THE F&%$ JUST HAPPENED. Here are three of those such games.
Dec. 23 — @ Phoenix Suns (9:30 CT, ESPN)
No, we’d like to not lose our remotes after a season opener. But over the years it’s been an inevitability with the Suns. In fact the Mavericks have gone a chilly 7-11 against Devin Booker and the fellas. The last time they had a winning record against the perennial lottery team was 2015.
This season looks to be different in Phoenix, with Chris Paul and a parade of solid young players in tow. So while the Mavericks dropping the opener on the road to the new-look Suns would not be apocalyptic, it will still leave a bad taste in my mouth.
Something to watch for: The Mavericks allowed 122.8 points per game, in the four contests against the Sun last season, fifth among their opponents; a point differential of -12.5.
Jan. 4 — @ Houston Rockets (7 CT, FSSW)
Considering the drama in south Texas, this prediction is either way off or will make it a true rager. Games against the Rockets have been offense-only affairs lately (in three games last season the Mavericks led 135.7 to 134.7 points per game). Both teams have prioritized shooting as many threes as possible, and are anchored by two of the most lethal isolation scorers in the league.
Who’s to say what the Rockets will look like come January, with the impending departure of James Harden to a new party destination. This game might be the product of scheduling, however, with the Mavericks facing their first road back-to-back of the season. Yes they should make easy work of the Chicago Bulls the night before, but that’s a tough turnaround with so much travel. Chalk this up to a brain dead headscratcher.
Something to watch for: Last season the Mavericks shot nearly 40-percent from deep against the Rockets, 3.5-percent above their season average. Though they lost two of the three games against Houston last season, the three point line may be the deciding factor here.
Feb. 3 — @ Atlanta Hawks (6:30 CT, FSSW)
These teams will be tethered through the entire careers of Luka Doncic and Trae Young. Much like that inevitable link, and the Twitter bickering, the Mavericks and Hawks have split all four matchups since the two point guards arrived on the scene.
But away with the niceties. Any time the Mavericks cough up a loss to the Hawks, who haven’t had a winning season since 2016, it makes MFFLs everywhere want to bash the foreheads into the nearest stanchion. This go-around the Hawks will look a little different, as they loaded up on vets like Danillo Gallinari and resident weasel Rajon Rondo, plus Bogdan Bogdanovic...so a cast of players the Mavericks wanted or should have never pursued. Will this be another blown lead in frustrating fashion?
Something to watch for: Luka has actually only appeared in two games against the Hawks, notching just eight assists total and shooting 27-percent from three. Young has played in all four, but played below his averages as well (shooting 30-percent from deep).
Coming soon is the three games we should all circle and get excited for.