It might just be March 2nd, and there’s a long way to go until the postseason becomes a reality. But the Mavericks’ last playoff game was April 25, 2016 so forgive us for already scoreboard watching to see where Luka Doncic & Co. end up.
So let’s do just that: take a weekly glance at what the Mavericks, and teams around them, have ahead:
4. Houston Rockets (39-20)
@ NYK, vs LAC, @ CHA, vs ORL
The Houston Rockets, on a six-game win streak, have started to find a rhythm with a center-less rotation. Over the weekend they grabbed an overtime win in a playoff atmosphere on the road against the Boston Celtics.
While they have a battle against a tough Clippers team ahead in the standings, the Rockets have a relatively light slate this week. They currently are 1.5 games back from second in the West.
5. Utah Jazz (37-22) - 2 games back of 4th
@ CLE, @ NYK, @ BOS, @ DET
The Utah Jazz have had a roller coaster last few weeks, after a recent 10-game win streak. After riding high at the start of the year they’ve done nothing but streaking: 4-game winning, 5-game losing, 4-game winning, 4-game losing.
Now Utah hits the road, with a slate of mostly winnable games outside a matchup against the Boston Celtics. They’ve tried some shuffling with their lineups and rotations as they look to hold off the Oklahoma City Thunder and Dallas Mavericks. Speaking of...
6. Oklahoma City Thunder (37-23) - 2.5 back of 4th
vs LAC, @ DET, @ NYK, @ BOS
There are a string of common opponents here, as the surprising Thunder continue pursuing fantastic playoff positioning. What they’ve managed to do over the last month-plus is string together a handful of wins at a time, with recent wins over the Denver Nuggets and the playoff-hopeful New Orleans Pelicans (before being pulverized by the Milwaukee Bucks).
The Thunder bookend their week with two tough matchups that they’ll need to win if they want to catch the Jazz.
7. Dallas Mavericks (37-24) - 3 games back of 4th
@ CHI, vs NOP, vs MEM, vs IND
The Mavericks finish up their road trip Monday night in Chicago and then head home for three very important matchups. These are the games the Mavericks need to win to move up in the standings.
Health and depth will be a focal point as Rick Carlisle tries to manage what’s felt like shifting rotations for weeks on end. The Mavericks haven’t won more than two games in a row in the last 19 games (the last was a four-game win streak in mid-January). As the league hits March there’s a sense of playoff intensity among competitive teams. Three of the four games this week should up the ante.