Dallas Mavericks' path to top-five seed in playoffs may be easier than expected

Dallas Mavericks, Kyrie Irving, Maxi Kleber, Luka Doncic
Dallas Mavericks, Kyrie Irving, Maxi Kleber, Luka Doncic / Tim Heitman/GettyImages

The Dallas Mavericks are on track to participate in this year's postseason after finishing with the No. 11 seed and missing out on the playoffs in the 2022-23 campaign. At the moment, they are in the play-in picture, although they aren't far off from rising out of it by the end of the regular season.

Considering that a loss or two in the Play-In Tournament would end its season and that a couple of the opponents it should avoid in the first round of the playoffs will likely occupy the top two seeds, Dallas should certainly try to finish in the Western Conference's top six.

Unfortunately, the Mavs have had an uneven recent stretch, losing six of their past 11 games. The good news is that a late-season surge can push them to a higher seed.

Dallas Mavericks' path to top-five seed in playoffs may be easier than expected

Dallas needs to capitalize on having one of the easiest remaining schedules in the regular season. Based on the combined winning percentage of their remaining opponents, the Mavs have the fifth-lowest strength of schedule in the league.

In contrast, the teams ahead of them in the standings have much tougher challenges.

The seventh-place Phoenix Suns have the third-hardest schedule, with six of their remaining matchups coming against the top four squads in the West. 

The Sacramento Kings, currently sixth, are also among those who have 10 of the worst strength of schedule. A date with the league's best team this season, the Boston Celtics, is looming.

At 40-26, the New Orleans Pelicans seem to have a good shot at locking up at least the No. 5 seed. They are even threatening to surpass the LA Clippers for fourth place. However, the Pelicans are in the middle of the pack in terms of the ranking of the remaining schedule strength. They are slated to face the Celtics, Oklahoma City Thunder, and Milwaukee Bucks in the following weeks.

The Mavs' arguably heaviest opponents are the Denver Nuggets, whom they will meet on Sunday, and the Thunder, whom they will play in their season finale. In the middle are mostly winnable contests, which they should look to take advantage of.

Of course, it might be easier said than done because of the unpredictability of NBA games. Moreover, Dallas is dealing with some health issues, with Luka Doncic nursing a hamstring injury and Josh Green recently going down with an untimely ankle sprain. Dante Exum is also day-to-day with a right plantar fascia sprain.

Only time will tell if the Mavs are up to the task of bypassing the Play-In Tournament and securing a higher seed.

Stay plugged in with us to read more about the Dallas Mavericks' home stretch of the 2023-24 regular season.