DALLAS An eight-game stretch is upon the Dallas Mavericks that may define their season as a playoff contender or lottery member.
Dallas plays seven of its next eight against sub-.500 teams. The other game is a winnable matchup against the Utah Jazz, fifth in the West, at American Airlines Center.
Still, forward Justin Anderson said it’s not always advisable to circle games on a calendar or look forward to games being in the win column.
They’re all important, but we’re trying put ourselves in a position to be at .500 or above by the end of the season.
Mavericks guard Justin Anderson, on a more favorable upcoming schedule
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“They’re all important, but we’re trying put ourselves in a position to be at .500 or above by the end of the season,” he said. “I think we’re looking at small pieces of a puzzle and you never know what can happen when a team gets into a rhythm.”
Anderson has had two games this season with 15 or more points and is averaging 7.5 points and 3.6 rebounds per game.
He’s had limited minutes, though, to start the new year as Dallas has regulars returning from injury.
“Probably the biggest thing that empowers winning is team chemistry and that can help you get on a roll,” Anderson said. “If we can find a way to do that, to get on a roll over this stretch, that’s what could make the difference.”
Dallas have a season record of 3-4 against the Lakers, Knicks, Jazz, Suns and Bulls, five of the upcoming foes.
Two of those losses were by seven and three points.
The Mavs haven’t played Minnesota or Miami in the regular season.
Curry comes along
Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle is high on guard Seth Curry, a three-year veteran who had scored in double figures four of the last five games entering Saturday.
Curry had 16 each on 6-of-9 and 5-of-8 shooting against Phoenix and Washington in the past week.
“I look at how much better he’s gotten this year,” Carlisle said. “With limited NBA experience, I mean he’s still young at 26 and obviously, it’s in the bloodlines.”
I mean he’s still young at 26 and obviously, it’s in the bloodlines.
Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle, on Seth Curry
Curry is the brother of Warriors guard Stephen and son of former NBA player Dell Curry.
Seth Curry has scored 23 points twice this season, both career highs.
“His brother has gotten better in his mid-to-late 20s and you can see the opportunity for him to continue like this,” Carlisle said. “It’s going to be about work and sticking to it.”
The Mavericks are looking for ways to creep up the minutes of 18-year veteran Dirk Nowitzki to 30 per game on occasion.
Nowtizki has been slowed by an Achilles injury this season.
“I think we’re good at mid-to-high 20s and that’s workable,” Carlisle said. “But he’s a long way from being back to his old self.”
Nowitzki had 13 points in almost 28 minutes against Phoenix on Thursday.
Harris finding form
Guard Devin Harris had scored in double figures three times in four games entering Saturday despite limited minutes.
“His injury [to his right big toe] was one that in normal instances results in surgery,” Carlisle said. “But his case was one where we didn’t have to go that route and he’s responded well.
“He really found some rhythm against Sacramento a few weeks back and you know veteran players, it just takes time. The experience they’ve been through before, they understand the process of getting back.”