By Bryan Murphy
If the playoffs were to begin today, the Dallas Mavericks would be left on the outside looking in.
After losing the first three games on the current four-game west coast road trip, Dallas currently sits in 9th place in the Western Conference standings. The good news, though, is that Dallas is just half a game behind Houston for the eight seed and just a game behind red-hot Utah for the seven seed.
But still, the Mavs just flat out don’t look good right now. On top of losing 10 of the last 12 games, the Mavericks will be without Chandler Parsons for the rest of the season and have been without the services of Deron Williams the last two games due to an abdominal strain. We all knew Dallas was an average to slightly below average team coming into this season and with two of the team’s main contributors out, they’re a pretty bad team to say the least.
Luckily for Dallas, this week gets a tad bit easier to help them with the playoff push. On Monday night, the Mavs will be in Denver to cap off the road trip against the Nuggets. With the way the Mavs have been playing and seeing as the Nuggets came out victorious the previous times these two teams met on March 6, this won’t be easy despite the Nuggets’ 31-43 record.
Nuggets forward Kenneth Faried absolutely killed the Mavericks in that last meeting, notching 25 points and 20 rebounds. But, Faried has been sidelined the last five games due to injury and Mavs fans should be hoping he doesn’t play Monday night.
The struggling New York Knicks then come to town Wednesday night for the only time this season. The Knicks are led by nine time All-Star Carmelo Anthony. Anthony is still playing at a high level, even leading the Knicks in points, assists and rebounds per game this season.
But, the main reason why Mavs fans can’t miss this game is because of Kristaps Porzingis. The 20 year-old rookie from Latvia has been sensational this season for New York. The 7-foot-3-inch power forward is averaging over 14 points, seven rebounds and nearly two blocks per game. The numbers and the outstanding highlights have been nice, but the real reason why Mavericks fans should really be tuned in is because Porzingis is the closest thing we have seen to Dirk Nowitzki on the basketball court. Of course you can make the obvious comparison that they are both 7-foot white guys from Europe, but their games are very resembling of each other.
“It’s more than fair,” Nowitzki said to reporters on whether the comparisons are fair, after the 104-97 victory over New York back in December. “He’s way better than I was at 20. The comparisons are probably unfair to him.”
Dallas then hits the road once again for a brief two game stint up north. First, the Mavs square off with Andre Drummond and the Detroit Pistons, who beat Dallas back on March 9. Of course Drummond had a monster night with 25 points and 17 boards and that was expected. If Dallas is going to get revenge and get a big win on the road this time around, they’ll have to do a similar job defensively against point guard Reggie Jackson. Jackson was held to just 11 points on four-of-eleven shooting, well below his season average of 18 points per game.
The week closes out against one of the few opponents that the Mavs have bullied all season long, the Minnesota Timberwolves. After this game, Dallas will have just five games left for the season and they are all against Western Conference teams that are above Dallas in the standings. Because of that, the game on Sunday afternoon is without a doubt a must-win game for the Mavs to stay afloat and keep its playoffs hopes alive.
Upcoming Schedule – All Times Central
3/28 @Nuggets 8:00 pm
3/30 vs Knicks 7:30 pm
4/1 @Pistons 6:30 pm
4/3 @Twolves 2:30 pm