For the first time in over 10 years, the Dallas Mavericks are in danger of missing the NBA Playoffs. At 23-29, the Mavs are currently four and a half games out of the eighth playoff seed and are in 11th place in the Western Conference.
There are several reasons why the Mavericks have struggled this season. Dirk Nowitzki missed half the season recovering from knee surgery and then has struggled to gain his superstar form since returning. They also lack a quality group of complementary players.
But how they got to this point is irrelevant now. Now all that matters is how they get out of this spot and into the playoffs. Right now, the Houston Rockets are in the eight-seed at 29-26 or a .527 winning percentage. If they maintained that winning percentage for the rest of the season and stayed in the same position that would put them at approximately 43 wins for the season. That means that Dallas would have to go 21-9 over their remaining 30 games to get 44 wins and supplant Houston.
Given that, the Mavericks need to start their post All-Star Break schedule hot to get them headed in the right direction towards that 44-win mark.
Though that’s sometimes easier said than done, the possibility of starting their final 30 games off successfully isn’t the most difficult task. Their first two games are against the Orlando Magic and the New Orleans Hornets, two franchises with worse records than the Mavericks. The third game of this stretch is against the struggling Los Angeles Lakers, a team that they are 1-1 against this season.
So given their opponents, the Mavericks could pretty easily start out 3-0 and be on their way to 21 wins out of their next 30 games. And really, they have to begin the home-stretch of their season that way or Dallas might be in unfamiliar territory and be sitting at home in May and June.