At the absolute worst time of the year, the Dallas Mavericks are falling apart. It happens to a team every season around this time, and unfortunately the Mavericks are this year’s mess.
After last night’s win against the San Antonio Spurs, the Mavericks sit eighth in the Western Conference. The Oklahoma City Thunder and the Los Angeles Lakers are lurking right behind them, and they’ve pulled even the Minnesota Timberwolves.
The road ahead is rough. Seven of their next nine games are on the road, where Dallas has struggled all year. They’ve got a .363 win percentage away from home, so that means they’re likely to win three of those away games at most. That doesn’t bode well for them avoiding the play-in tournament.
Here’s what to look for over the weekend:
Games to watch
Thunder at Raptors. The Thunder are right alongside the Mavericks in the race for the play-in, so keep watching them. Some think they might start sitting guys in order to tank a little, but it seems like they’re interested in making the playoffs.
Warriors at Hawks. The Warriors are two games ahead of the Mavericks and battling to hold onto the fifth seed. They’re away from home, worse than Dallas even, so unless they’ve exorcised their road demons, this is a likely loss.
Timberwolves at Bulls. The Timberwolves are less than two games back of the Los Angeles Clippers for the sixth seed, and you can bet they want to avoid the play-in at all costs. But the Chicago Bulls are on a bit of a hot streak right now, so Minnesota will have to be ready.
Pelicans at Rockets. New Orleans is falling apart, just like the Mavericks, only they’ve been doing it for a couple months now. They’re 1.5 games out of the last spot in the play-in, but every win has been a chore lately. Luckily for the Pelicans, the Rockets have no interest in winning games.
Mavericks at Lakers. The Lakers are one game back of the Mavericks, and of course, you were going to watch this anyway, right? Stay up late on Friday night, eat some wings, watch the Mavericks, then come back here for all the coverage.
Magic at Clippers. The Clippers have load managed their way into a playoff spot. Can they keep it? They’re less than two games ahead of the Mavericks.
Timberwolves at Raptors. Minnesota once again has to take to the road to face an opponent on the upswing. Hopefully that helps the Mavericks back here in the USA.
Warriors at Grizzlies. The Warriors get a break on the road as the Memphis Grizzlies continue to struggle.
Celtics at Jazz. Boston and Utah wrap up a busy day for the Mavericks’ Western foes. The Jazz are 1.5 games back of the Mavericks and lurking.
Suns at Thunder. This might be a good test of whether the Thunder are going for it or not. Will they play everyone on a Sunday afternoon game? Or will minor injuries start to pop up in Oklahoma City?
Pelicans at Rockets. These two go at it again on Sunday. It’s a lucky break for New Orleans.
Clippers at Trail Blazers. The Clippers will be on a back-to-back. Will they sit Paul George and/or Kawhi Leonard? The season is almost over and they need every win they can get. Meanwhile, the Portland Trail Blazers might be okay with packing it in for the year.
Magic at Lakers. A rematch of the 2009 NBA Finals! But not really.