Mavericks: First Month of the Season Could Make or Break 2015-16


The Dallas Mavericks hope to make the NBA playoffs for the 15th time in the new millennium this season, but with the rich getting richer and some up-and-coming squads ready to jostle for a spot at the table come April things will be as tough as ever in the loaded Western Conference.

The fact that the Mavericks are limping towards the beginning of the regular season doesn’t help, either. Which is why the first month or so of the schedule could make, or break, Dallas’ 2015-16.

Chandler Parsons and Wesley Matthews, the team’s two highest-paid players, are working hard to get ready in time for October 28th’s season opener, but even if they do make it back in time, or miss only a few games, there’s no guarantee they’ll be prepared to carry the load. If they’re shelved early on things obviously become a lot tougher.

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Deron Williams has been held out of activities at training camp as he recovers from a calf strain, too, and the Mavericks are also taking a conservative route with JaVale McGee as he works to get right physically.

For those of you keeping score at home, that’s three – potentially four – starters dealing with lower extremity injuries with the season less than a month away. Oh, and Dirk Nowitzki is 37-years old.

A slow start, whether it stems from an incomplete roster or one that had no time at camp or during preseason play to develop any chemistry as a group, could spell doom for the Mavericks in their quest for the postseason. One bad stretch can absolutely ruin a season for a team in the west, just ask the the Mavs’ opening night opponent.

The Phoenix Suns lost 10 of 11 at one point last season, allowing the New Orleans Pelicans to creep up into the eighth and final playoff spot. Phoenix’s horrid stretch came at the tail end of the season but the principle remains the same.

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As crazy as it may seem, if the Mavericks don’t win at least half of their first 20 games, they might find themselves in a hole too deep to climb out of.

11 of those 20 games come against playoff teams from last year, and the Mavericks will also face the Oklahoma City Thunder, Utah Jazz, Sacramento Kings, and of course the Suns – four other teams with playoff talent.

Even with a complete roster the Mavericks are probably a fringe playoff team, which is why it’s imperative that guys get healthy sooner rather than later if they want to contend for one of the west’s final two or three playoff spots.

If they do, on the other hand, the first quarter of the season could set the foundation for a successful year. The Mavericks have shooters galore, one of the league’s best coaches and training staffs, and several players that could end up being diamonds in the rough in Dallas’ system. They’re a team that could very well become a much better one as the season progresses with Matthews and Parsons getting back into the swing of things and Rick Carlisle working his magic so avoiding an unescapable hole early on is paramount.

Whatever happens, the notion that November games don’t mean anything in the NBA does not apply to the Mavericks. Whether they’re fishing or preparing for their first round opponent next spring, Dallas will likely be able to point to those “meaningless” games this Fall as the reason why.

Next: Top 10 Point Guards in the West Entering 2015-16

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