Week ahead: Will it be postseason or golf season?
Four games in six days. Three on the road.
"Every game now is going to be of even more significant importance," Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle said. "We know that. We don’t need to overstate it."
But after a horrific 1-3 week -- with two losses coming at home -- at this juncture of the season, alarm bells are raging. Adding to the distress is that there is still no knowing when Jason Kidd (strained right groin) will return.
The new week starts Tuesday at home against the Sacramento Kings, a team that walloped Dallas a month ago. In fact, each team on the schedule this week -- which ends with a nationally televised Sunday matinee at Staples Center against the Los Angeles Lakers -- has handed the Mavs at least one loss.
Saturday's loss at Memphis probably means the Mavs won't move any higher than the sixth seed. But danger lurks from behind, and any slip-ups could put the title defense on permanent ice.
"Everybody’s sweating it out," Jason Terry said. "All we can do is control us. We’ve got to win the games."
Tuesday: vs. Sacramento Kings (19-37), 7:30 p.m.
TV/Radio: FSSW/ESPN Dallas 103.3 FM; 1270 AM (Spanish)
What to watch: The Kings plastered the Mavs in Sacramento in the middle game of that horrid back-to-back-to-back. If they walk out of Dallas with a victory, put Dallas on full meltdown alert. The Kings, 2-8 in their last 10 games, have won five road games -- three fewer than Portland had when the Blazers came through last week and left with an overtime win. The Mavs have been making a habit of calling recent games critical or must-win. Well, this one really is.
Thursday: at Golden State Warriors (22-33), 9:30 p.m.
TV/Radio: TNT/ESPN Dallas 103.3 FM; 1270 AM (Spanish)
What to watch: Monta Ellis resides in Milwaukee now, but that doesn't make the Warriors any less dangerous on their home floor, regardless of their 12-16 mark. Golden State will be coming off a game at Portland the night before so Dallas should have a bit of an edge physically as it begins a back-to-back.
Friday: at Portland Trail Blazers (27-30), 9:30 p.m.
TV/Radio: ESPN, FSSW/ESPN Dallas 103.3 FM; 1270 AM (Spanish)
What to watch: This game will prove a significant test for Dallas coming off Thursday's game at Golden State. In two meetings in Dallas, the teams have needed three overtimes to settle things. Portland evened the season-series last week when LaMarcus Aldridge drained a buzzer-beater in overtime. In those two games, the Seagoville native has clobbered his hometown team to the tune of 29.0 points on 48 percent shooting and 12.0 rebounds, including 6.0 on the offensive boards. The Blazers might be below .500 overall, but they are tough at home with a 19-10 record.
Sunday: at Los Angeles Lakers (35-22), 2:30 p.m.
TV/Radio: ABC/ESPN Dallas 103.3 FM; 1270 AM (Spanish)
What to watch: First-round playoff preview? Possibly. The Mavs are looking for their first win in four games against the team they swept in the second round last season. The Lakers are 23-6 at Staples but they've been vulnerable recently, losing to Oklahoma City and Houston while pulling out close calls against New Jersey and New Orleans. Kobe Bryant (shin) missed Saturday's game at Phoenix, a 125-105 loss, and the Lakers have not given a timetable for his return. While Kobe had his first big night in the Lakers' 109-93 win at Dallas last month with 30 points when Shawn Marion was out with his own injury, Pau Gasol, Andrew Bynum and newcomer Ramon Sessions, have inflicted wounds.
103.3 FM ESPN PODCASTS
Play Podcast Dallas Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle joins Fitzsimmons and Durrett at Mavericks media day to discuss his expectations for the upcoming season.
Play Podcast Mark Cuban joins Galloway and Company to discuss the Mavericks' new GM Gersson Rosas and much more.
Play Podcast Fitzsimmons and Durrett discuss Mark Cuban's comments from Las Vegas about the Mavericks' offseason, how he sees the team without Dwight Howard and more.
Play Podcast Marc Stein joins Ian Fitzsimmons and Tim MacMahon to discuss why the Mavericks didn't want to match Cleveland's offer to Andrew Bynum, what's next for the Mavs and the possibility of Dirk Nowitzki ending his career elsewhere.
Play Podcast Jeff Platt fires quick-hitters at Ian Fitzsimmons and Tim MacMahon in the weekly sports standoff about Andrew Bynum, the Mavs' current backcourt, a potential Nelson Cruz suspension and more.
Play Podcast ESPN Los Angeles' Ramona Shelburne joins Ian Fitzsimmons and Tim MacMahon to discuss why she thinks Andrew Bynum got a bad rap in Los Angeles and how he would fit in with the Mavericks.
Play Podcast Buy, sell or hold? If Dwight Howard goes to another team, what are the Mavs' options? The guys take a look at a list of potential fallback options.
Play Podcast ESPN's Marc Stein joins Fitzsimmons and Durrett to discuss the latest news on the Mavericks' meeting with Dwight Howard.