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Mavericks Face Decisive Week

Dirk Nowitzki and the Dallas Mavericks face a challenging week that could make or break their playoff hopes.

Dirk Nowitzki and the Mavericks face a challenging week that could make or break their playoff hopes.

Despite what can at best be described as a mediocre season, Dallas is still very much in the playoff hunt. That could change by the end of the week.

Currently embroiled in a fierce competition for the No. 8 seed in the Western Conference, Dallas faces a tough week on the road, beginning in Los Angeles on Tuesday.

The Mavericks will take on the Lakers at Staples Center before heading to Denver (Thur.), Sacramento (Fri.) and Portland (Sun.). A strong run will have the side challenging the Jazz and Lakers for the final playoff berth. A poor road trip will have the Dallas front office planning for next season.

Fighting Tooth and Nail

Dallas (36-37) opens play on Tuesday two games behind current No. 8 seed, Utah (39-36). The two are separated by the Lakers (38-36).

In theory, all three sides have a shot at catching Houston (41-33) in seventh, and even Golden State (42-32) in sixth, but both sides’ recent form suggests they’ve done enough to make the postseason. That leaves three teams for one spot.

The Mavericks’ game with the Lakers will prove huge. A win will leave Rick Carlisle’s side just one-half game behind the Lakers and one game in the loss column behind the Jazz, who are idle on Tuesday. A loss? Well, a loss leaves a lot of hard work.

After a Hollywood stopover, the Mavericks head to Denver for the first and only time this regular season to take on a red-hot Nuggets side that has the best home record in the NBA. Winning here will be tough.

Dallas may be able to afford a loss in the Mile High City, but only if the side is successful in Los Angeles on Tuesday. Two losses here could prove fatal.

In the second game of a back-to-back, Dallas heads to Sacramento to take on a Kings side it has already beaten three times this season. The Mavericks will have a good shot at this one, but avoiding a slip-up is essential.

Dallas closes out the week, and its four-game road trip, with a visit to Portland. While the Blazers aren’t exactly the scariest of teams, getting a win at the Rose Garden is tough. The Mavericks know this already; they came up on the wrong end of a 106-104 score back in January.

Following Sunday’s game in Portland, Dallas returns home to play five of its last six at home. With only two teams sporting a winning record over that stretch, the side has the chance to close out the season strong. In fact, the Mavericks face an easier schedule than the Lakers and Jazz, an advantage that could prove vital.

Of course, that advantage will mean nothing if the side is unable to get anything out of the next four road games. And by anything, you’ve got to think that the team needs to go 3-1, preferably starting with a win in Los Angeles.

Showdown in Hollywood

The Mavericks will be underdogs heading into Staples Center. The spread opened at five points.

Having gone 42-31-0 ATS this season, the Mavericks are one of the best teams in the league at covering the spread. Only Denver, Oklahoma City and Washington have covered more times. Furthermore, no team has covered the spread more times on the road than Dallas. The Mavericks are 23-15-0 ATS when playing away from American Airlines Center.

The Lakers meanwhile can be found at the other end of the spectrum, having recorded a 30-44-0 ATS record this season. Only Charlotte and Phoenix have proven more futile. The Lakers are 19-19-0 ATS when playing at home.

Dallas is 23-15-0 ATS when playing as an underdog while the Lakers are 24-27-0 ATS as the favorite.

The total opened at 208.5. Dallas (43-28-2) has been involved in more games that have seen the total go over than any other team in the league. The Lakers (39-34-1) have also favored the over this season.

The Lakers lead the head-to-head series 2-1 this season, but it was the Mavericks that won when the two teams met at Staples Center on opening night.

Dallas has failed to cover the spread in the last two games against the Lakers, both played in the Lone Star State, and the total went under in each. Both trends are atypical of the Mavericks.


Dallas’ Remaining Schedule

Apr. 2: at LA Lakers

Apr. 4: at Denver

Apr. 5: at Sacramento

Apr. 7: at Portland

Apr. 10: vs. Phoenix

Apr. 12: vs. Denver

Apr. 14: at New Orleans

Apr. 15: vs. Memphis

Apr. 17: vs. New Orleans

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