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A must-win week of Mavericks basketball

The Mavericks might control their fate, but that fate is still uncertain.

NBA: Utah Jazz at Dallas Mavericks Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

All things considered, playoff basketball has already started for the Dallas Mavericks. And given the circumstances this is the most important week in their season.

Following a brutal road trip that saw the Mavericks run a gauntlet of Eastern Conference teams, they have a home-heavy slate of games. For a variety of reasons, every single one is must win. Big picture the team did their job on the five-game trip, finishing 3-2 after first beating the Houston Rockets before heading east. While the Mavericks notched two thrilling come-from-behind victories against the Boston Celtics and Brooklyn Nets, two duds against the Philadelphia 76ers and Charlotte Hornets leaves things feeling shaky.

The Mavericks are in the thick of playoff seeding. Though just a week or so ago it felt all but certain that the team will avoid the threat of a play-in game and maybe even steal home court advantage for the first round, the Minnesota Timberwolves are simply the hottest team in the league — they’re riding a four-game win streak and are 9-1 in their last 10. The Mavericks have to lock in. Heading into Monday here is the lay of the land:

Standings after Sunday’s games

After the Utah Jazz defeated the New York Knicks and the Denver Nuggets lost to the Boston Celtics the Mavericks find themselves two games behind Utah and 1.5 games ahead of both Denver and Minnesota. The Timberwolves are no longer just lurking in the background.

The hope for the Mavericks is that they seem to be getting healthier. Over the weekend saw the return of big man Marquese Chriss after extended absence for knee soreness, as well as Reggie Bullock’s return to the team — he did not play the eastern leg of the road trip due to personal reasons. The team also gave Spencer Dinwiddie the night off in Charlotte, and should have him back in the fold to start the week. Looking at the games, it’s clear they’ll need everyone. Here are the schedules for all involved:

Dallas Mavericks schedule

  • 3/21 vs MIN
  • 3/23 vs HOU
  • 3/25 @ MIN
  • 3/27 vs UTA

Utah Jazz schedule

  • 3/21 @ BKN
  • 3/23 @ BOS
  • 3/25 @ CHA
  • 3/27 @ DAL

Denver Nuggets schedule

  • 3/22 vs LAC
  • 3/24 vs PHO
  • 3/26 vs OKC

Minnesota Timberwolves schedule

  • 3/21 @ DAL
  • 3/23 vs PHO
  • 3/25 vs DAL
  • 3/27 @ BOS

The Mavericks playoff seeding will be defined by this week. They have the most opportunity, and perhaps the most on the line. Both the Jazz and Timberwolves face tough teams all week, but none will be more vital than those games on Monday, Friday and Sunday. If the Mavericks can manage to win out the week, they just might seal home court. But if they trip up at any point, a play-in spot still remains very possible. The best news is the Mavericks control their own fate, but that fate is still uncertain. Buckle up, folks.