SAVE THE DATE A look at some of the Mavs’ marquee home games:
vs. Atlanta Hawks, Oct. 30: It's not necessarily a marquee opponent, but it's the season opener and the first time to see Jose Calderon and Monta Ellis wear a Mavs uniform in a game that matters.
vs. Los Angeles Lakers, Nov. 5: This game obviously loses some luster if Kobe Bryant can’t complete a remarkable comeback from a torn Achilles tendon to be ready for the first week of the season. The Lakers come back to Dallas on Dec. 7.
vs. Houston Rockets, Nov. 20: Does deciding to go to Houston make Dwight Howard a villain in Dallas? Maybe the Mavs’ creative team can come up with another video for the Rockets’ Superman. The Rockets return to Dallas on Jan. 29.
vs. San Antonio Spurs, Dec. 26: Perhaps Pop will give the Mavs a late Christmas present and leave a star or two in San Antonio. The Mavs might be fighting for a playoff berth when the Spurs make their second trip to Dallas on April 10.
vs. Los Angeles Clippers, Jan. 3: It might be painful for Mavs fans to watch Chris Paul after all the hoping and praying that he’d sign with Dallas went for naught. But Lob City, which returns to Dallas on March 27, is still a must-watch.
vs. Miami Heat, Feb. 18: Think it bothers LeBron James to see that 2011 championship banner hanging from the American Airlines Center rafters? The Mavs are still the only team to beat the Heat in a playoff series since King James took his talents to South Beach.
vs. Brooklyn Nets, March 23: Don’t expect a jersey retirement ceremony for new Nets coach Jason Kidd.
TOUGHEST STRETCH The NBA didn’t do Dallas any favors in April, when the Mavs could be scratching and clawing for one of the West’s final playoff bids. Five of the Mavs’ final seven games are on the road, including a four-game-in-six-night stretch that starts against the two L.A. teams. Projected West contenders Golden State and San Antonio are among the three teams scheduled to visit the AAC in April.
SOFTEST STRETCH The second half of January should be good for the Mavs. They play half of those eight games on the road, but that includes trips to Phoenix, Cleveland and Toronto, none of which are the rear end of back-to-backs. Houston is the only potential contender to come to the AAC in that stretch, when the Mavs will also face Portland, Detroit and Sacramento at home.