2013 Dallas Mavericks schedule: Monta Ellis returns and Texas battles highlight year

Justin Ford-USA TODAY Sports

The highlights of the Mavericks' 2013-14 schedule include visits to his old homes in Milwaukee and Golden State, while Dallas as a whole must make statements against the other Texas powers.

A year removed from making the playoffs, the Dallas Mavericks quietly threw last season's failure away and scooped up free agents this summer to put themselves back in the competitive picture. It's still hard to tell where they fall, but it's a good bet to tab the Mavs as a playoff contender.

Monta Ellis, Jose Calderon and Samuel Dalembert are three of Dirk Nowitzki's new teammates, and Dallas will use that core to challenge in a competitive state of Texas and beyond. The 2013-14 season will also include return visits for Ellis to shake the reputation held at his old stomping grounds.

Five games to watch

Nov. 9 at Milwaukee -- The Monta-ball return tour begins in Milwaukee. Ellis had good days and bad with the Bucks, who never put the pieces together for more than a brief playoff appearance. After a one-year stint with Dallas, new Bucks guard O.J. Mayo will likewise face his team of a year ago, and the game also marks Dalembert's return to Milwaukee.

Nov. 20 vs. Rockets -- Dallas owner Mark Cuban was open about the Mavs' recruitment of center Dwight Howard this summer. The free agent eventually signed with Houston, which makes for a battle not only for state superiority but for a statement regarding each team's place in the conference.

Dec. 11 at Golden State -- Ellis' other former team, the Warriors, will host Dallas. There, Ellis is involved in a similar story line as is the case in Milwaukee. It's also another test for the Mavericks and a chance to prove their place against another rising Western Conference team.

Jan. 8 vs. Spurs -- If the Mavs can develop enough cohesiveness to be pushing the Rockets and Warriors, why not call it a big game against the reigning Western Conference champions? Dallas' unique offensive weapons will be a particularly curious matchup against Gregg Popovich's squad.

Feb. 26 vs. Pelicans -- A game featuring three of the NBA's most interesting scoring guards in Ellis, Tyreke Evans and Eric Gordon should be fun. Two drastically different roster makeups should add a twist for two teams that are much improved from last year.

Tough tests

From Dec. 23 through Jan. 8, the Mavericks go through a stretch of nine games where every opponent could be a playoff squad. Dallas plays the Rockets, Spurs, Bulls, Timberwolves, Wizards, Clippers, Knicks, Lakers and the Spurs again.

Additionally, the last 16 games of the regular season contain two games each against the Thunder and Clippers, and single games against Brooklyn, Golden State, San Antonio and Memphis. There are also matchups against potential playoff teams such as the Timberwolves, Nuggets and Lakers.

Easiest stretches

The end of November and front half of December looks reasonable on paper. The Mavs play Atlanta, Minnesota, Charlotte, New Orleans, Portland, Sacramento, Golden State and Milwaukee, with the Warriors being the toughest out.

January is also a month where Dallas can make a run. From Jan. 10 through Feb. 9, there are 17 games and only four — games against Memphis, Houston, Brooklyn and the Clippers — would be labeled under the category of elite competition.

Important schedule facts

Back-to-backs: 16

Season opener: Oct. 30 at home vs. Atlanta

Longest road trip: Four games (Dec. 4-11)

Longest homestand: Eight games (March 17-April 1)

2013-14 schedule

OCTOBER
Atlanta Wednesday, October 30 2013 8:30 PM EDT coverage
NOVEMBER
@ Houston Friday, November 01 2013 8:00 PM EDT coverage
Memphis Saturday, November 02 2013 8:30 PM EDT coverage
Los Angeles Lakers Tuesday, November 05 2013 8:30 PM EST coverage
@ Oklahoma City Wednesday, November 06 2013 9:30 PM EST coverage
@ Minnesota Friday, November 08 2013 8:00 PM EST coverage
@ Milwaukee Saturday, November 09 2013 8:30 PM EST coverage
Washington Tuesday, November 12 2013 8:30 PM EST coverage
@ Miami Friday, November 15 2013 7:30 PM EST coverage
@ Orlando Saturday, November 16 2013 7:00 PM EST coverage
Philadelphia Monday, November 18 2013 8:30 PM EST coverage
Houston Wednesday, November 20 2013 9:30 PM EST coverage
Utah Friday, November 22 2013 8:30 PM EST coverage
@ Denver Saturday, November 23 2013 9:00 PM EST coverage
Denver Monday, November 25 2013 8:30 PM EST coverage
Golden State Wednesday, November 27 2013 8:30 PM EST coverage
@ Atlanta Friday, November 29 2013 7:30 PM EST coverage
Minnesota Saturday, November 30 2013 8:30 PM EST coverage
DECEMBER
Charlotte Tuesday, December 03 2013 8:30 PM EST coverage
@ New Orleans Wednesday, December 04 2013 8:00 PM EST coverage
@ Portland Saturday, December 07 2013 10:00 PM EST coverage
@ Sacramento Monday, December 09 2013 10:00 PM EST coverage
@ Golden State Wednesday, December 11 2013 10:30 PM EST coverage
Milwaukee Saturday, December 14 2013 8:30 PM EST coverage
Memphis Wednesday, December 18 2013 8:30 PM EST coverage
Toronto Friday, December 20 2013 8:30 PM EST coverage
@ Phoenix Saturday, December 21 2013 9:00 PM EST coverage
@ Houston Monday, December 23 2013 8:00 PM EST coverage
San Antonio Thursday, December 26 2013 8:30 PM EST coverage
@ Chicago Saturday, December 28 2013 8:00 PM EST coverage
@ Minnesota Monday, December 30 2013 8:00 PM EST coverage
JANUARY
@ Washington Wednesday, January 01 2014 6:00 PM EST coverage
Los Angeles Clippers Friday, January 03 2014 8:30 PM EST coverage
New York Sunday, January 05 2014 7:30 PM EST coverage
Los Angeles Lakers Tuesday, January 07 2014 8:30 PM EST coverage
@ San Antonio Wednesday, January 08 2014 7:00 PM EST coverage
@ New Orleans Friday, January 10 2014 8:00 PM EST coverage
New Orleans Saturday, January 11 2014 8:30 PM EST coverage
Orlando Monday, January 13 2014 8:30 PM EST coverage
@ Los Angeles Clippers Wednesday, January 15 2014 10:30 PM EST coverage
@ Phoenix Friday, January 17 2014 9:00 PM EST coverage
Portland Saturday, January 18 2014 8:30 PM EST coverage
@ Cleveland Monday, January 20 2014 1:00 PM EST coverage
@ Toronto Wednesday, January 22 2014 7:00 PM EST coverage
@ Brooklyn Friday, January 24 2014 7:30 PM EST coverage
Detroit Sunday, January 26 2014 7:30 PM EST coverage
Houston Wednesday, January 29 2014 8:30 PM EST coverage
Sacramento Friday, January 31 2014 8:30 PM EST coverage
FEBRUARY
Cleveland Monday, February 03 2014 8:30 PM EST coverage
@ Memphis Wednesday, February 05 2014 8:00 PM EST coverage
Utah Friday, February 07 2014 8:30 PM EST coverage
@ Boston Sunday, February 09 2014 6:00 PM EST coverage
@ Charlotte Tuesday, February 11 2014 7:00 PM EST coverage
@ Indiana Wednesday, February 12 2014 7:00 PM EST coverage
Miami Tuesday, February 18 2014 8:30 PM EST coverage
@ Philadelphia Friday, February 21 2014 7:00 PM EST coverage
@ Detroit Saturday, February 22 2014 7:30 PM EST coverage
@ New York Monday, February 24 2014 7:30 PM EST coverage
New Orleans Wednesday, February 26 2014 8:00 PM EST coverage
Chicago Friday, February 28 2014 8:30 PM EST coverage
MARCH
@ San Antonio Sunday, March 02 2014 7:00 PM EST coverage
@ Denver Wednesday, March 05 2014 9:00 PM EST coverage
Portland Friday, March 07 2014 8:30 PM EST coverage
Indiana Sunday, March 09 2014 7:30 PM EDT coverage
@ Golden State Tuesday, March 11 2014 10:30 PM EDT coverage
@ Utah Wednesday, March 12 2014 9:00 PM EDT coverage
@ Oklahoma City Sunday, March 16 2014 7:00 PM EDT coverage
Boston Monday, March 17 2014 8:30 PM EDT coverage
Minnesota Wednesday, March 19 2014 8:30 PM EDT coverage
Denver Friday, March 21 2014 8:30 PM EDT coverage
Brooklyn Sunday, March 23 2014 7:30 PM EDT coverage
Oklahoma City Tuesday, March 25 2014 8:00 PM EDT coverage
Los Angeles Clippers Thursday, March 27 2014 8:30 PM EDT coverage
Sacramento Saturday, March 29 2014 8:30 PM EDT coverage
APRIL
Golden State Tuesday, April 01 2014 8:30 PM EDT coverage
@ Los Angeles Clippers Thursday, April 03 2014 10:30 PM EDT coverage
@ Los Angeles Lakers Friday, April 04 2014 10:30 PM EDT coverage
@ Sacramento Sunday, April 06 2014 6:00 PM EDT coverage
@ Utah Tuesday, April 08 2014 9:00 PM EDT coverage
San Antonio Thursday, April 10 2014 8:00 PM EDT coverage
Phoenix Saturday, April 12 2014 8:30 PM EDT coverage
@ Memphis Wednesday, April 16 2014 8:00 PM EDT coverage
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