Dallas Mavericks: Inside the Final 17 Games
By Isaac Harris
The Dallas Mavericks find themselves spiraling downwards as they have lost their last four games, but what does their final 17 games of the season look like as they fight for the playoffs?
After the All-Star break the talk around the Mavericks second half push was centered around the Mavs chasing the luxurious 5th seed in the Western Conference. Now, after a rough four game stretch, the Mavs real focus is just making the playoffs at this point.
With the Mavs losing on Wednesday to the Detroit Pistons, Dallas moved down to the 7th spot in the West with just a .5 game lead on the Houston Rockets. Here is a look at the 5th-9th seeds in the West at the current moment.
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Under the leadership of Damian Lillard, the Blazers have surged through the standings only to surpass the Mavericks and pose a real threat to challenging Memphis for the 5th seed. Memphis, on the other hand, has still avoided the fall in standings despite losing Marc Gasol for the season. Houston decided to hold onto Dwight Howard at the trade deadline and looks to recapture the team chemistry they had last year when they finished 2nd in the West.
The Mavericks have their own questions surrounding the team as Dirk Nowitzki continues to lead the team, Chandler Parsons looks to find consistency, and Wesley Matthews tries to find a way to recapture the magic he had last season in Portland. It’s decision time in Dallas as they look to fight through the last month of the season in hopes of keeping their playoff hopes alive. Here is an inside look at the last 17 games of the season…
Dallas welcomes a feisty Indiana team that is trying to fend off Detroit and a surging Washington team from beating them to the playoffs. Led by all-star starter Paul George and a team that likes to play small ball. Dallas looks to end a four game losing streak.
Charlotte finds themselves in the 6th spot in the East being led by Most Improved Player candidate Kemba Walker. This will be a fun matchup to watch as Matthews will look to guard Walker and Pachulia will look to battle Al Jefferson. Also, you see a matchup of two soon to be free agent small forwards in Parsons and Batum.
This is the first of five game series that could make or break the Mavs. They can’t afford to go 0-5 through this set of games, but will have to truly make strides to get some quality wins. LeBron and Co. will be a tough task at home.
3/18- Golden State
Two days later they welcome back the defending champs who seem to be determined on beating the Bulls regular season record. Dallas is one of the few teams to beat the Warriors this season, but we all know that was without Stephen Curry.
This game will be huge for Dallas as they (hopefully) will be battling each other for the 6th spot in the West. Look for Nowitzki to try to feast on the young fellas down low for Portland at home.
Three days later the Mavs turn back around and face the Blazers again in Portland. Watching Matthews guard Lillard again should be a fun matchup as these are must-win games against Portland. Dallas needs to go at least 1-1 in these two games.
3/25- @Golden State
Dallas then ventures to Golden State to play the best team in the league at home…where they’re undefeated. If Dallas does slip to the 8th seed, this would be a preview of the first round.
After losing to the Kings last week, the Mavs will look to contain DeMarcus Cousins and beat a struggling Kings team in one of the last weeks of the season. Dallas will desperately need this win, especially with it being on a first night of a back-to-back.
This will conclude the Mavs four game road trip and be a second of a back-to-back. Dallas will hopefully bounce back against a Denver team that continues to grow and mature.
3/30- New York
Two days later Dallas returns home to face a Knicks team who is 27-39 in the Eastern Conference. With the Knicks searching for players who could be on the roster next season, Dallas can’t look past this matchup.
In a matchup between two teams that will be fighting for their playoff lives, it should be a fun one to watch. After beating the Mavericks at home this week, the Pistons will look to gain a much-needed win to make the playoffs.
With Dallas beating Minny by a large margin last matchup, combined with the fact that Minnesota gains nothing by winning more games, this should be an easy win for the Mavericks.
Dallas finishes the season by facing five potential playoff teams in the last five games. Houston is in the same spot of the Mavs but the Rockets have MVP runner-up in James Harden. These Texas matchups are always great, but this could decide some seedings.
Almost the same situation as Houston, Memphis is in the same category of teams. Barring a catastrophic collapse, Memphis looks locked into playoffs, but the seedings could change if they ever start to gradually slip as expected.
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4/10- @Los Angeles Clippers
The Clippers find themselves on the heals of OKC as the season enters the final portion. If Los Angeles is within fighting distance of OKC for that third spot in the West, then expect this game to be a must win for the Clips. Also, if they do somehow catch OKC, it could be a preview to a 3/7 first round matchup with Dallas.
Utah finds themselves on the outside looking in at the moment, but that could change with some much-needed wins over the next few weeks. Either way, this could be a matchup between two teams fighting off each other for the playoffs. This will be a must win game.
4/13- San Antonio
Dallas finishes the season against the unpredictable Spurs. With the Spurs looking to have the second seed locked in, they could be rolling out Boban for 40 minutes that night. This could determine playoff seeding and/or if the Mavs make the playoffs at all.
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My prediction is that the Dallas Mavericks will go 10-7 over these last 17 games and finish the season as the 8th seed with a 43-39 record. This would inevitably set up a first round matchup with the Golden State Warriors. Now, we all wait and see as the Mavs start their final 17 games against Indiana on Saturday.