Over the weekend we looked at five Mavericks games this season that will make you rage — the kind of nights that will make you grab your favorite bourbon and burn all your Mavericks gear.
But everything isn’t all doom and gloom. Every season the Mavericks find a way to shock us when we least expect it. Remember just days after getting embarrassed on Christmas evening they returned to the Staples Center and chased the Los Angeles Clippers off the floor? Those games. This time you can grab your bourbon and plan the championship route around your neighborhood.
*Of note: in similar predictions last season, between both rage and rejoice games, I went 3-4...sooo...I don’t know, don’t listen to me.
Oct 29 — @ Denver Nuggets (9 CT, ESPN)
The Mavericks have a tough stretch in November where they will host the Nuggets, then play twice against the Phoenix Suns in Phoenix, followed by two straight against the Los Angeles Clippers on the road — all in eight days. But before we get there the Mavericks will play reigning NBA MVP Nikola Jokic in Denver.
These two teams have had some fun battles the last couple seasons. Maybe it won’t have the same juice while the Nuggets play without starting point guard Jamal Murray, but Luka vs Jokic on national tv should still deliver. Despite Doncic shooting a career 16-of-63 from three against Denver, he shows why he’s an MVP favorite this time around and puts the game away late.
One stat: after losing all three matchups against Denver in Luka’s rookie season the Mavericks have gone 4-2 since, with two losses by just a combined five points. And three of those four wins? In the Mile High City.
Dec 15 — vs Los Angeles Lakers (6:30 CT, ESPN)
The 2012 US Olympic Basketball team has registered this season for the Los Angeles Lakers. It will be difficult to find space on the floor for five Mavericks to play around LA and their walkers, but they will manage.
Expect the Mavericks to be locked in here, facing the Western Conference favorites, and new head coach Jason Kidd’s former team. Very few of their matchups the last several seasons haven’t been close. Lebron James & Co. will still be sorting out which of the Lakers’ mid-2000’s all-stars should be getting late game minutes and the Mavericks aren’t interested in finding out, blowing them out at home on national television as an early holiday gift.
One stat: Luka hasn’t always been great against his childhood hero King James. The Lakers have forced the third most Doncic turnovers (45 turnovers in 10 games).
Jan 12 — @ New York Knicks (6:30 CT, ESPN)
Never mind that the Mavericks have won just one game since acquiring Kristaps Porzingis from the New York Knicks, in what has been known in social circles as “the Tim Hardaway Jr. trade”. Ignore that.
On Wednesday, January 12, vengeance is spelled K-R-I-S-T-A-P-S-P-O-R-Z-I-N-G-I-S. It’s lengthy, but it’s worth is. Porzingis hasn’t been able to face the Knicks with a full offseason of prep, and this time around he’s on a mission. Look for a fresh Porzingis, now in a midseason rhythm, to be locked in thanks to two days rest ahead of the primetime game.
One stat: After acquiring more former Knicks players this offseason Mark Cuban petitioned the league to make the New York Knicks the Mavericks’ G-league affiliate. Do not fact check this.
Jan 29 — vs Indiana Pacers (6 CT)
I don’t mean to be dramatic, but this is the most important game for the Dallas Mavericks this season. The broadcasting gods must make this a national tv game. Is there bad blood between former Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle and Luka Doncic? Who knows, probably not, am I going to convince myself there is, absolutely.
It was a wild start to the summer to see so much shakeup in an office where so little had changed for so long. Was it time? Yes probably. But I’m not sure the next time the Mavericks find a better coach than Carlisle. He should be showered with praise upon his return. Will that happen? I don’t know, fans are weird. But expect this game to be hotly contested. It will be must-watch tv to see the wizard Carlisle try to scheme and frustrate Doncic. Lucky for the Mavs, they have the best player on the floor and whatever Rick tries doesn’t matter.
One stat: the last time Carlisle has coached in American Airlines Center as the visiting coach? January 4, 2007: a 100-91 loss at the hands of Dirk Nowitzki (20 points) and Josh Howard (25 points). There was a combined 22 three point attempts between the two teams.
Apr 10 — vs San Antonio Spurs (TBD)
I’m going to wager that the Mavericks are fighting for a key homecourt playoff spot in the final game of the season. So who better to face than the Spurs, the team they’ve played more than any other across the league.
The Mavericks have gone 5-2 lately against Gregg Popovich’s squad. Expect a raucous atmosphere at the AAC, a locked in Doncic and Porzingis, as the Mavericks claim homecourt in the playoffs for the first time since 2011.
One stat: Kristaps Porzingis has recorded 28 threes and 25 blocks against the Spurs — both the second most against a single team in his career.