Inhale. What you smell is the sweet scent of basketball coming your way in the very near future.
Tuesday, the NBA and Dallas Mavericks announced the full 66-game schedule for the reigning titleholders, kicking off at the American Airlines Center on Christmas Day against the Eastern Conference champion Miami Heat. After a home-and-home preseason schedule series (Dec. 18 and Dec. 20) with the Western Conference runner-up, the Oklahoma City Thunder, the Mavericks will quickly turn their attention to a sprint that Dallas fans once again pray ends with the championship hardware at the finish line.
But the Mavs certainly will have a tough, yet entertaining, road towards returning to the peak of the mountaintop, with games coming swiftly once the season tips off.
With just four regular-season games in December, the Mavs will play a franchise-high 18 games in the month of January. The team will also have to survive a road-heavy month of March, playing 10 of 17 games away from Big D.
Of the Mavs' 22 back-to-backs, the schedule features one lone back-to-back-to-back. This meets the league minimum of one and is below the maximum of three. Six of the consecutive game nights are of the home-road variety, with eight on the road, six road-home combinations and two more in the friendly confines of the AAC.
Meanwhile, the Mavs will have to once again battle through a gauntlet in the Western Conference, playing 48 games in total out West. This includes three games against Southwest Division foes San Antonio, Houston, New Orleans and Memphis, four more contests against the Los Angeles Lakers -- the team the Mavericks dethroned for the title with a second-round sweep -- and four matchups versus the Thunder, who Dallas kept from reaching the Finals with a five-game series win.
On March 29, the Mavs also make a return to Miami, where they captured the Larry O’Brien Trophy on the Heat’s home floor with a 105-95 Game 6 win.
But with the tough schedule also comes exposure worthy of a champion, with the Mavs showcased nine times on ESPN, eight times on TNT, six times on NBATV and three times on ABC.
“All things considered, we like it,” Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle said of the schedule. “We know that when you're the champion you're gonna get a tougher schedule, because you're gonna be in demand for national TV and so forth. So, we're playing a lot of good teams.”