Predicting Disney: Dallas Mavericks
The Dallas Mavericks are entering the NBA's Disney bubble as overachieving underdogs. Not many predicted before the season began that they would be 13 games over .500 at this point in the season, but here we are. Despite being well ahead of the curve, many still don't view the Western Conference's current seventh seed as a title contending team, and that's ok. This franchise has done well when being under the radar.
Eight Game Schedule
July 31 vs. Houston Rockets: L
The Mavericks are going to want to move up in the standings before the playoffs hit and the best way to do that is by beating the Houston Rockets. However, the Rockets still have James Harden, Russell Westbrook, and a bunch of others guys that will make life difficult for the Mavericks. As much as I want to give the Mavericks a win here, and I think they could pull it off, I'll try to be realistic in my fandom. How will the young team play together after such a long hiatus? Only time will tell.
August 2 vs. Phoenix Suns: W
Phoenix narrowly made the cut in the Western Conference for a playoff spot. It feels like this year fell apart quickly and these next eight games, without some of their key players, doesn't bode well for the team either. The Mavericks face Phoenix twice, and if they don't play down to their opponents (which is a big if), these should be two easy wins.
August 4 vs. Sacramento Kings: W
Like the Suns, this should be an easy win for the Mavericks. Also like the Suns, the Kings season derailed quickly, after what looked like it could be a promising year. If the Mavericks are going to make up some ground in the standings, it has to be by beating teams that really should not be in the playoffs to begin with.
August 6 vs. Los Angeles Clippers: L
How much effort will the Clippers bring each night when they know their playoff spot is secure? Who knows, however, this team is one of the worst matchups for the Mavericks. They have ample defensive stoppers and guys that they can throw at Luka Doncic to slow down the Mavericks offense. Currently, it looks like these two teams will face off against each in round one, for the Mavericks sake, let's hope these eight games will shake things up a bit.
August 8 vs. Milwaukee Bucks: W
I know, I know... why would I have the Mavericks winning a game against the team with the leagues best record? Mainly because the Bucks are going to have their season essentially wrapped up by now and I'm not 100% sure they will be playing all of their guys each game to close out the year. I think the Mavericks will surprise a few people and win a game or two they normally wouldn't, so here is one of those surprise wins.
August 10 vs. Utah Jazz: W
It feels like the Utah Jazz are bleeding out at the moment. Star players Donovan Mitchell and Rudy Gobert appear to still be at odds with each other, Bojan Bogdanovic is out for the rest of the year, and Mike Conley's status is upon the air with a new born baby on the way. The Jazz could conceivably drop in the standings while the Mavericks move up, this would be a big game for Dallas if they can secure the win. Playoff teams are able to take advantage of situations and with everything that's going on with Utah, this is one where the Mavericks have to strike while they can.
August 11 vs. Portland Trail Blazers: W
The Portland Trail Blazers could be a tough matchup here. All of it depends on whether they are locked in and fighting for a spot, or if they've thrown in the towel. There have been reports all over the place on whether Damian Lillard wants to play or not, by August 11th we will know if the Trail Blazers have something worth playing for, or if the b-team will be taking the floor while their stars sit. If Lillard comes to play, this is going to be a tough night for the Mavericks, if not, they should be able to cakewalk to their last game of the regular season.
August 13 vs. Phoenix Suns: W
As mentioned above, this is the second time the Mavericks face off against the Suns. I can't imagine the Suns have made up so much ground over the past few days that they are on the verge of a playoff spot heading into this game. So ask yourself this, if you had no path to the playoffs and it's the last game of the season in the "Orlando bubble," are you trotting out your stars against a team looking for every win they can get? Yeah, me either.