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Thursday, December 17, 2009
Mavs' road to halfway point: Murderer's Row

By Jeff Caplan

The Mavericks will reach the halfway point of the season after facing the Celtics in Boston on Jan. 18. Between Friday's home game against Houston and the Boston game, we should find out plenty about the Mavs.

The schedule turns brutal, with 11 of the next 15 opponents sporting records at or above .500. Considering more than half the league is below .500, this 15-game stretch is truly a Murderer's Row. Eight games are at home, including the first four. One of the non-.500 teams, Memphis, has already defeated Dallas and two others, Sacramento and Detroit, lost to the Mavs by a combined seven points.

At 19-7 and riding a five-game winning streak, the Mavs can feel pretty good about themselves heading into this stretch. They're as healthy as they've been, Dirk Nowitzki is playing at an MVP level and the club is playing hard-nosed defense, if not for a full 48 minutes, then when it really counts in crunch time.

"The important thing now is even though we’ve won five in a row, is to stay hungry, not let any complacency creep in and try to work to maintain this momentum and carry it forward," Mavs coach Rick Carlisle said. "That’s a challenge in this league. The teams that can do that end up being special teams, and the ones that can’t end up being average or also-rans."

Here's a look at the Mavs' next 15 games:
vs. Houston
vs. Cleveland
vs. Portland
vs. Memphis
@ Denver
@ Houston
@ Sacramento
@ L.A. Lakers
vs. Detroit
@ San Antonio
vs. Utah
vs. L.A. Lakers
vs. Oklahoma City
@ Toronto
@ Boston