The NBA’s 2022-23 schedule was released Wednesday. So, let’s talk about it regarding the Mavericks, even if briefly. I’ve taken a few thorough examinations of it, and these are the main things of note.
The opening games are tricky, until they aren’t
The first 10 games look like this:
Look, Dallas can beat any team in the league, but the first few games could be gentler than a Suns-Grizzlies-Pelicans trio. The Mavericks handled Memphis well last season, and New Orleans has mystery about how good it’ll be, even if “pretty good” is expected.
The Suns as the opener is amusing, with the Mavericks’ second-round win last season and also because this is the third time in five seasons Dallas has opened its season against them on the road. Luka Dončić’s first-ever game came in Phoenix. It’s safe to say him visiting Phoenix this October will look and feel different than his 10-point, four-assist NBA debut.
No one has any idea what Brooklyn’s roster will look like in this schedule’s fourth and ninth contests. But the rest of the teams, Toronto excluded, are ones that aren’t expected to be winning programs just yet. Dallas could start 7-3, even 8-2, if the rhythm from the postseason run carries over.
Back-to-backs are, well, back
I’m using back-to-backs in two manners. There’s the traditional time, games played across consecutive days, of which Dallas has 13. That’s right at the league average this season. Only four of them come after the Mavericks season’s halfway point on Jan. 9, which sets Dallas up well for a strong finish with plenty of rest.
But there are also the back-to-back games played against the same opponent, once a scheduling oddity the NBA has allowed with more frequency to cut down on travel. Here are the instances of that this season:
- Nov. 18 and 20: vs. Denver
- Dec. 19 and 21: at Minnesota
- Jan. 14 and 15: at Portland
- Feb. 10 and 11: at Sacramento
- March 11 and 13: at and vs. Memphis
- March 24 and 26: vs. and at Charlotte
That doesn’t count the Jan. 10 and 12 games in Los Angeles, played first against the Clippers and then against the Lakers, which effectively functions as a back-to-back no-travel trip. And there are other closely tied matchups, like the Brooklyn and Orlando ones within the first 10 games or like three games against Memphis being played in March within 10 days.
There’s a clichéd belief that it’s harder to beat teams twice consecutively in the regular season. I’m not sure whether statistics back that up, although I’d be curious to see if anyone has done that research. That said, it’s good for Dallas’ travel itinerary that the team doesn’t have to fly anywhere between six district road games, especially since the Portland and Sacramento duo are also traditional back-to-backs.
Other key dates
Well, we covered the season opener. There are 30 national television games if you care about that. The other notable matchups are all in December:
- Dec. 3 at New York
- Dec. 25 vs. the L.A. Lakers
- Dec. 27 vs. New York
The first one is notable for, well, you know, but it’s also noteworthy since it’s an 11:30 a.m. (CT) tip — the European-friendly start. The second is Christmas, and Dallas will have the second slot.
The third is Jalen Brunson’s return to Dallas. I don’t know with certainty what reception will await him. I suspect it’ll be mixed. If it’s me, especially given half the fan base isn’t sure they would have signed him to the contract that New York did, I’d just cheer. But with Mark Cuban saying Brunson didn’t give them any chance, well, I think there will be some boos as well. But that’s fandom, man. We’ll see.
(Photo of Luka Dončić: Cary Edmondson / USA Today)