Slate of Opponents Offers Opportunity for Disappointing Mavericks

Jason Kidd

Chris Gardner/Stringer Jason Kidd

There’s no question that this season has gotten off to a rough start for the Dallas Mavericks. The Mavs record so far is 15-17 and they currently sit in eighth place in the Western Conference standings. After last season’s fifth-place finish and pushing the Clippers to a Game 7 in the first round of the playoffs, the Mavs and their fans had high expectations for this season.

Injuries to superstar Luka Doncic (who has missed 11 games) and Kristaps Porzingis (who has missed nine) have certainly affected the Mavs start to the season. Those injuries along with losing five players to the league’s health and safety protocols have brought havoc on the Mavs roster. The team has lost two games in a row including a spirited performance against the Jazz on Christmas Day. Despite the tough start to the season, there might be a reason for optimism.

Upcoming Schedule

Despite having a decimated roster, the Mavs have a chance in their next five games to reel off some wins.

The Mavs’ next four games are all against teams that are several games below .500, starting at the Blazers(13-19) on Monday night, then two games at the Kings (13-21) on Wednesday and Friday. Dallas will wrap up their road trip at the Thunder (12-20) on Sunday before returning home next Monday to host the Nuggets (16-16). So far this season the Mavs are 3-1 against the teams they play in the next five games.

The Monday night game in Portland is the first meeting of the season between the two teams, the Blazers are currently having their own issues with COVID-19. The Blazers have just ten players available for Monday night with Jusuf Nurkic, Robert Covington, Cody Zeller, Dennis Smith Jr., Ben McLemore, Trendon Watford and Keljin Blevins all out due to health and safety protocols. Entering Monday night’s game the Blazers are just 2-8 over their last ten games.

The two games at the Kings will be the second and third meetings of the season. The Mavs won the first match-up back on October 31, 105-99. The Kings are one of the league’s healthiest with no players currently in protocols, but they’ve currently lost three games in a row and are just 3-7 over their last 10 games.

The Mavs will play Oklahoma City for the second time this season on Sunday. Dallas won the first meeting easily back on December 12 when they cruised to a 103-84 victory. The Thunder have been playing well recently having won six of their last ten games. They also are currently missing five players. Darius Bazley, Tre Mann, Aleksej Pokusevski, Jeremiah Robinson-Earl and Aaron Wiggins are all out.

Monday, January 3rd will be the third meeting of the season between the Mavs and Nuggets. The teams split the first two meetings with Dallas winning on November 15, 111-101, and Denver taking the first game on October 29 106-75. The Nuggets currently are pretty healthy with only Aaron Gordon on the injury report listed as day-to-day. Denver is just 5-5 over their last 10 games.

Can the Mavs Take Advantage?

With the way the shorthanded Mavs played on Christmas against a good Jazz team there is certainly reason for optimism. Jalen Brunson has played excellent while the team has been shorthanded and with the return of Porzingis to the lineup it certainly gives Dallas some much needed fire power.

With five games in eight days and four of them on the road what the Mavs need more than anything is to get healthy. That part will remain to be seen as to when players that are currently out can return to the roster, but if the Mavs can get healthy during this stretch of games they have a great chance to reel off some wins and gain some positive momentum.

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