Top Home Games of 2013-14: No. 19 vs. DAL

Wednesday, Dec. 4, 7 p.m.

Other 2013-14 games between these two teams
Friday, Jan. 10, Dallas at New Orleans
Saturday, Jan. 11, New Orleans at Dallas
Wednesday, Feb. 26, New Orleans at Dallas

Why it’s on the list
Based on most ultra-early preseason predictions, the Mavericks are the Southwest Division team most likely to vie with the Pelicans in the race for a Western Conference playoff spot. Dallas and New Orleans finished fourth and fifth, respectively, in the Southwest last season, but are hoping to join division rivals San Antonio, Memphis and Houston in the postseason field. In a fiercely competitive West, it seems very unlikely that there will be room for both the Mavs and Pelicans.

Separated by roughly 500 miles, New Orleans and Dallas have had an unusual back-and-forth rivalry in recent years. The Mavericks once won 21 consecutive games over the then-Hornets, prior to that streak being halted in December 2007. New Orleans later held an 11-game home win streak against Dallas, which the Mavericks finally snapped in January 2012. That stretch also included a 3-0 home mark by New Orleans vs. Dallas in the first round of the 2008 Western Conference playoffs.

The common denominator for the Mavs throughout the bulk of both streaks has been Dirk Nowitzki, who is entering his 16th NBA season, all with Dallas.

What’s new in Dallas
Virtually the entire Mavericks backcourt has a new look, with point guard Jose Calderon and shooting guard Monta Ellis signing in the offseason as free agents from Detroit and Milwaukee, respectively.

Combo guard Devin Harris is back in Big D for a second time as a pro, having been a key member of the Mavs team that reached the 2006 NBA Finals. Rookie guards Shane Larkin, Gal Mekel and Ricky Ledo are all interesting prospects who add depth. In the front court, the major acquisition was center Samuel Dalembert, who is entering his 12th NBA season.