Can the Dallas Mavericks elevate their standing in the playoff seeding?
The revised NBA schedule was published Friday evening for all 22 teams competing in Orlando. With the Dallas Mavericks currently in the seventh seed, but only four games from the third seed, what is a realistic playoff seed for the team?
Live sporting events have slowly started to come back giving people many reasons to be excited in what has been an otherwise morale-defeating pandemic. The NBA announced their comeback nearly a month ago and it is starting to come to fruition with the recent schedule release and plans for hosting.
The Dallas Mavericks will play eight play-in games against the:
Houston Rockets, Friday, July 31, 8 PM CDT
Phoenix Suns, Sunday, August 2, 8 PM CDT
Sacramento Kings, Tuesday, August 4, 1:30 PM CDT
LA Clippers, Thursday, August 6, 5:30 PM CDT
Milwaukee Bucks, Saturday, August 8, 7:30 PM CDT
Utah Jazz, Monday, August 10, 2:00 PM CDT
Portland Trailblazers, Tuesday, August 11, 4:00 PM CDT
Phoenix Suns, Thursday, August 13, TBD
None of the play-in games were expected to be easy and this schedule has at least 4 games against the best teams in the league. Dallas has shown a consistent ability to beat good teams this season, but with every team potentially showing the healthiest versions of themselves, they might not catch any breaks they otherwise would have during the regular season.
So, how many of these games can the Mavericks realistically win?
A healthy Dallas team has proven they can beat a healthy Sacramento and a healthy Portland team. The same could be said for the Houston Rockets, however, Dallas has yet to play them since the team made some serious transactions at the trade deadline.
Phoenix gave Dallas serious trouble the last time the two teams faced each other, Milwaukee almost came back in hysterical fashion against a Luka-less starting lineup, Utah has gotten the better of Dallas twice in two very competitive games, and the Clippers seem to drain the soul of the team every time they play each other.
With the dynamic duo of Luka Doncic and Kristaps Porzingis both healthy to resume the season, there is a good chance the Mavericks could go anywhere from 3-5 to 6-2 over these eight games. (The team could actually go 0-8 or 8-0 but let’s be realistic) However, how could each eight-game stretch affect the playoff seeding for the team?
A 0-8 record would likely cement the team as the seven seed with the Memphis Grizzlies (current eighth seed) sitting eight games behind the Mavericks. Unless the Grizzlies were to finish 8-0, nothing unexpected would occur in this situation.
A 1-7, 2-6, and 3-5 record likely keeps the team as a seventh seed as well since Houston and Oklahoma City currently have the same record. Houston has winnable games against Sacramento and Portland, as are for Dallas, but also winnable games against San Antonio, Indiana, and Philadelphia. It goes without saying, they also can beat Dallas in their first game.
Oklahoma City has winnable games against Phoenix, Memphis, and Washington and also similar opponents with the Mavericks in Utah and the LA Clippers.
However, the seeding changes with a 4-4, 5-3, or 6-2 record. This would likely mean Dallas has beat Houston and other opponents that are on both teams’ schedules. So in this regard, not only would the Mavericks jump over both teams in seeding, they could supplant Denver and Utah from the three and four seeds.
Both teams are only three games ahead of the Mavericks. Denver has to play the Miami Heat, Oklahoma City Thunder, Utah Jazz, LA Lakers, LA Clippers, and Toronto Raptors. Utah has to play against New Orleans, Oklahoma City, LA Lakers, San Antonio twice, and Denver. Both teams could see at least four losses due to their competition. For Utah, they’ll be without Bojan Bogdanovic who had season-ending wrist surgery; a major blow to their scoring ability.
While both teams have their work cut out for them, Dallas could struggle winning five games as they have to face LA Clippers, Milwaukee, and Utah consecutively making for a very difficult three-game stretch. If the Mavericks were to lose all three games, the ceiling is 5-3 with losable games against Houston and Phoenix.
While Dallas is pretty much guaranteed the seventh, winning games they have a realistic chance of winning should help with their playoff seeding and prevent them from having to play the Clippers; lord knows MFFLs would hate to see their favorite team look soulless in a best of seven series.