The Dallas Mavericks have refused to get their season on track this year. Every time it looks like the ship has righted and they’ll start to look like the Western Conference runner-up from last season, something goes wrong and the losses start to pile up.
With less than a month remaining in the season, that’s unlikely to change. But the Mavericks are fortunate. The rest of the West is a mess, too. That’s how Dallas went from fighting for their lives in the play-in tournament to sitting in the sixth seed over the weekend, despite only winning one game.
The rest of their potential postseason opponents—the Golden State Warriors, Los Angeles Clippers, and Minnesota Timberwolves, among others—all failed to take control of their playoff positions last weekend.
The Mavericks’ way forward is simple—win games. They have a fairly easy schedule remaining, facing plenty of teams that have all but given up on this season. But as we’ve seen, that hasn’t meant easy wins for Dallas this year. Every remaining matchup has to turn into a playoff game now for the Mavericks.
Mavericks’ magic number to clinch at least the play-in: 9
This is the number of combined wins and Los Angeles Lakers losses needed to at least make the play-in tournament. For instance, if the Mavericks go 5-4 and the Lakers go 4-5 over the next nine games, Dallas would clinch a spot in the play-in tournament.
Games to watch
Timberwolves at Knicks. The Timberwolves continue a long road trip in the east, and they’re very beat up. Anthony Edwards is day-to-day with an ankle injury. Minnesota is only 1.5 games back of Dallas. Hopefully former Mavericks guard Jalen Brunson does Dallas a solid and beats Minnesota.
Warriors at Rockets. The Warriors are only a half game back of the Mavericks. They’re taking on the Rockets, who are in full tank mode. But Golden State cannot win on the road this season, so it’s possible Houston gets a win here.
Mavericks at Grizzlies. You know the drill. Watch the game, then come back here for all the coverage.
Kings at Jazz. The “tanking” Jazz refuse to die, and sit just 1.5 games back of Dallas. The Kings, meanwhile, might be able to grab the two-seed, so they’ll be playing hard.
Spurs at Pelicans. New Orleans is fading fast, but since they’re only two games behind the Mavericks, we’ll note this game and say keep an eye on it.
Thunder at Clippers. The Thunder are only one game back of the Mavericks. The Clippers are only 1.5 games ahead of Dallas. This is a big game for all three teams.
Warriors at Mavericks. This will be a huge test for the Mavericks. The Warriors will be at the end of a long road trip and can’t win away from Oracle Arena. The Mavericks are actually good at home. If they blow this game, well, it’ll be incredibly disheartening.
Hawks at Timberwolves. The Timberwolves will finally return home and get to face a Hawks team that’s been up and down all year.
Blazers at Jazz. The Portland Trail Blazers are pretty much done this season, so the Jazz might have a chance to win here.