The 2021-2022 NBA schedule has been released! A joyous day for season ticket holders and anyone who likes circling big games on their calendar as to be sure not to book anything for a few key matchups each season. There are only so many times you get to see Luka Doncic go to battle against other NBA legends in front of your very eyes and when those opportunities come up you need to take advantage.
I had the opportunity to move to the Metroplex in 2013 and became a Mavs season ticket holder soon after. In my first year in Dallas I attended more live NBA games than I had seen in my entire lifetime. After a year of scouring second-hand ticket sites, watching prices, trying different seat locations, I decided it just made more sense to join the club of season ticket holders. For the last 6 or 7 seasons I have attended probably around 30 home games a year at a minimum. Going to games, being a part of the crowd and community, and witnessing the best basketball players in the world first-hand is what I love to do. I get excited when a new in-game production is released, when a new craft beer is put on tap, or when there is a new ridiculous halftime show I have never seen.
All of this to say, when the schedule gets released its like Christmas morning for me. I add all of the games to my calendar and then highlight the ones that I really do not want to miss. There are a lot of factors when it comes to picking out the best games for a season beyond just wanting to see the NBA’s biggest stars, although this is the #1 factor. You also need to consider the day of the week, time of day, holidays, promotions, and storylines. When I break down the schedule the first time I am not only looking for LeBron, Giannis, and Durant, but I am also looking for games that will be high energy, high intensity, or just plain fun.
Below are my top 10 Mavericks home games for the upcoming 2021-2022 season. Instead of ranking the games 1-10 I am displaying them in chronological order as they will play out throughout the season.
The Home Opener – Tuesday, 10/26/21 at 7:30 pm vs. Houston Rockets
There is nothing like the home opener. Yeah, we may have been in the arena a few times already for preseason, but getting in your seat before introductions to the first home game of the season is when it really feels like the season starts. New Coach, new Players, new promotions and in-game productions (always fun to see what they do with the new intro video and song), there is a lot to look forward to when they open the gates to the AAC for the first time each season.
This game has the added intrigue of being against our division and state rival Houston Rockets who are coached by ex-Mavs assistant Stephen Silas. It will also be fun to get an early look at the 2021 #2 overall pick Jalen Green and the uber talented Kevin Porter, Jr. who dropped 50 points against the Bucks last year at just 20 years of age.
Last year’s Mavericks home opener did not quite go as planned as we were waxed by the Charlotte Hornets by 19 points after being outscored 30-12 in the third quarter. Luka had a season low 12 points and was a -27 in the box score. Let’s not do that again…
Gettin’ Weird on Halloween – Sunday, 10/31/2021 at 2:30 pm vs. Sacramento Kings
Weekend afternoon games are few and far between but when you can get them they are so convenient. You can easily make your way to the arena with time to spare, out of the game when its still light out, and back home by dinner. Add in the fact that its Halloween and random costumes and characters will be dispersed throughout the crowd and this is going to make for a great Mavs afternoon.
What a haunting Halloween gift for the Kings to have to come and Dallas and be tortured by the wizardry of Luka Doncic who they passed on 3 years ago for struggling Marvin Bagley. Despite the enduring pain of missing out on the supreme greatness of Luka Doncic the Kings do have some talent worth showing up to the arena for. De’Aaron Fox has been one of my favorite players to watch live for the past few years. He has next level speed, can get anywhere on the court, and keeps adding things to his game each time I see him. Now paired with the promising 20 year old guard, Tyrese Haliburton, this is one of the most exciting young backcourts in the NBA. We will also have the return of Harrison Barnes, who I’m sure holds some of that bitterness from being traded in the middle of a game in 2019.
By the way, if Chewbacca happens to be in the crowd I propose we find him at least 20-25 minutes at the forward or center position. That length and warrior mentality may be exactly what this Mavericks team needs.
Zion Smash!- Monday, 11/8/2021 at 7:30 pm vs. New Orleans Pelicans
I would consider this the first home game with a must see talent coming to town. While to this point we will have had a chance to see De’Aaron Fox, Jimmy Butler, and Jason Tatum, Zion Williamson is the type of physical force you just have to see in person. He is in a rare class of players that stand out as physical anomalies in a sea of elite athletes. LeBron, Giannis, Zion, and Boban, that’s the list…When Zion dunks, the whole arena gasps.
With the Pelicans being in our division I am also very interested to see how their team comes together with the off-season changes. Bringing in Jonas Valanciunas and Devonte Graham to pair with Zion and Brandon Ingram could make for a scary lineup. We are going to be seeing a lot of these guys over the next few years so I have a close eye on what is developing in the Big Easy.
The Three Headed Monster – Tuesday, 12/7/2021 at 6:30 pm vs. Brooklyn Nets
Few teams in NBA history can match this level of box office star power that comes to town with the Brooklyn Nets this year. Kevin Durant, James Harden, and Kyrie Irving are three of the most talented basketball players to have ever lived, the opportunity to see all of them at once makes this one of the top 2 or 3 homes games of the entire year.
This is a bit of a risky game if you are purchasing individual tickets. Tickets will be expensive and you run the chance of 1, 2 or all the big 3 skipping the game for injury or rest. I don’t expect the Nets to care too much about the regular season, their goal will be to just get to the Playoffs healthy and take it from there. The good part is that if any one of KD, Harden, or Kyrie are healthy, you are in for a show.
Although I am sure the Brooklyn fanbase continues to grow with the level of media coverage this team draws with its star power, Nets fans are not as insufferable as Knicks fans. It is inevitable that at any Knicks game there will be an opposing fan or two that really grind your gears but I see that much less often with Nets fans. Let’s hope this continues.
Christmas Time, Buck Yeah! – Thursday, 12/23/2021 at 7:30 pm vs. Milwaukee Bucks
Giannis coming to town to start the Holiday weekend makes for my top home game of the 2021-2022 season. I am expecting a loud and wild crowd for this one, it will be the Thursday before Christmas with basically everyone having Friday off to recover/binge on food and drinks at Holiday parties.
Giannis Antetokounmpo is my favorite player to watch live, aside from our Magical Luka Doncic of course. His mind-boggling size and athleticism is one thing, but his aggressiveness, tenacity, and effort are off the charts. Giannis never quits on plays, gives his all for his team and the fans, and inevitably will blow your mind with at least one drive and dunk that makes you rethink what humans are capable of.
There will be a little added intrigue with Jason Kidd coaching against his former team. Maybe a few years mentoring Giannis will allow Kidd to devise some master defensive plan to stop a 6’11” mountain of a man with guard-like skills from getting to the basket…probably not, but that would be nice.
Return of a Dynasty – Wednesday, 1/5/2022 at 6:30 pm vs. Golden State Warriors
Klay Thompson is expected to miss the first part of the season recovering from his achilles surgery but I am hoping that by this point he has made his return. Although I am sure he will still not be all the way back to being himself, when Klay Thompson, Steph Curry, and Draymond Green were last running together they were taking the league by storm. There was no more fun version of basketball than what was happening in Golden State over that time. The ball movement, player movement, and unreal shot making just make for a brand of basketball that is super fluid and fun to watch.
Nobody in the history of basketball has ever been able to shoot like Steph Curry, the quickness, precision, and swagger of his pull-up threes are extraordinary and legendary. Then having his running mate Klay by his side who can light you up for 60 points in 3 quarters while only dribbling 11 times. There is no conversation for the best shooter ever or the best shooting backcourt ever, it all resides in Golden State.
This One is Personal – Saturday, 1/29/2022 at 6pm vs. Indiana Pacers
Rick Carlisle’s return to the American Airlines Arena will happen in late January for a Saturday early-evening game, how juicy! Despite 13 years at the helm for the Dallas Mavericks, Rick Carlisle and the organization had a very less than ceremonious break-up this off-season. Not that I hate Rick as a Mavs fan or blame him for anything, but I still do not want him to come back into the AAC and get a win. I am sure everyone involved will refer to this as “just another game,” but that is not at all the case, this one is personal. Whether the break-up was ugly or mutual, you still don’t want to be slipping when you run into your ex. To see Rick’s smug face going up and down the sideline as TJ McConnell tears us apart like the second coming of JJ Barea would be brutal.
Luka will most definitely have a little extra fire going against the only NBA coach he has known over his first three years in the league. I expect Rick to throw the kitchen sink at Luka to try to make him give up the ball immediately and I cannot wait to see how Luka responds.
Sweet Revenge – Thursday, 2/10/2022 and Saturday, 2/12/2022 at 7:30 pm vs. LA Clippers
I am cheating a bit here and including both games against the Clippers in February just 2 days apart. Bad blood continues to build between these two squads who have now dueled it out twice in a row in the first round of the Playoffs with the Mavericks bowing out both times. Not only did the Mavs drop the series to the Clippers this last spring but in doing so they failed to win any of their 3 homes games. I feel like these are games that Mavericks players have circled on their calendar. Having a team come into your home arena and steal 3 Playoff games is enraging, just one home win during that series and the Mavs would have been able to continue their quest to a very winnable Championship. Kristaps Porzingis especially should have his eye on this matchup. After struggling mightily (or softly if you prefer) against the Clips in this past Playoff series he has to want prove he can be effective in this matchup, we seem destined to meet this team once again in the Playoffs.
Earlier in the season the Mavs will actually have one of these mini-series in LA against Clippers on 11/21 and 11/23. Put me down for a full sweep against the Clippers this year.
The Measuring Stick – Tuesday, 3/29/2022 at 6:30 pm vs. Los Angeles Lakers
Just a few weeks before the end of the season, this matchup with the Los Angeles Lakers will be a great measuring stick for what kind of form the Mavericks are in leading up to the Playoffs. The Lakers are stacked with talent and star-power, earning a win against this veteran team, this late in the season, could be a huge confidence builder as things really start ramping up.
With everybody health you could be able to see 5 future hall-of-famers on the court at the same time for one team. LeBron James, Russell Westbrook, Carmelo Anthony, Anthony Davis, and Dwight Howard. You can see the 3rd (LeBron), 10th (Carmelo) scorers all-time, and 34th (Westbrook) scorers all-time; the 11th (Howard) and 42nd (LeBron) rebounder all-time; the 8th (LeBron) and 12th (Westbrook) assist leaders all-time; the 13th (LeBron) and 28th (Westbrook) steals leaders all-time; and the 13th (Howard) and 49th (David) blocks all-time. Incredible accolades and accomplishment by some incredible players, I can’t wait to see them all on the court together.
Dame Time – Friday, 4/8/2022 at 7:30 vs. Portland Trailblazers
This has the potential to be a big-time, standings changing game. Last year the Mavs and the Blazers finished with identical 42-30 records, finishing 5th and 6th in the west respectively. Having similar, lackluster off-seasons in terms of high end roster upgrades, Dallas and Portland may find themselves jostling in the standings over the last couple games of the season once again.
Luka Doncic and Damian Lillard are as clutch as they come and have hit some of the most amazing buzzer-beater game winners in recent memory. Having them both on the court at the end of the game means you will always be on the edge of your seat regardless of which team has possession, you may just see greatness right before your eyes.
I am expecting a Playoff atmosphere for this game, the last home game and second to last game of the regular season. Friday night vibes will be filling the arena as we watch two of the NBA’s best performers put on a show. I must add that there is the risk that this game ends up being a dud. If the standings are already settled there is a chance that either team could rest their stars and the game is essentially meaningless. However, if everything comes together this could be about as close to a Playoff game as you can get.
Ja Makin Me Crazy – Sunday, 1/23/2022 at 6:30 pm vs. Memphis Grizzlies
Ja Morant is wild! I had to decide between the Hawks game with Trae Young coming to town or this matchup against the Grizzlies and Ja Morant. Ultimately I chose the Hawks game a one of the top 10 because Atlanta only comes once a year while Memphis is in the division and we see them often. This is no knock against Ja Morant, he is worth the price of admission!
Trae Day – Sunday, 2/6/2022 at 5:00 pm vs. Atlanta Hawks
Like it or not, Luka Doncic and Trae Young will forever be linked because of their 2018 draft day trade. Both teams received incredible, franchise shifting players to take their team into the future. Luka and Trae are both capable of video game like highlights and stat lines that make this a must-go game for me. The chance to see these two duel, trading threes and no look passes, and going for 40 points a piece is what I am looking for here. Add in a few monster, yet meaningless, dunks from John Collins and this seems like a great Sunday afternoon of basketball in Dallas.
Also, Trae has come to the AAC 3 times, once a year since being drafted, and has lost to Luka and the Mavs all three times including a 23 point beatdown where Luka didn’t play and Brunson, Doe-Doe, and Maxi combined for 67 points. This is a streak I would love to keep going.
Seats for Soldiers – TBD
Seats for Soldiers night is one of my favorite games of each season, regardless of who we play or when the game is. This is when courtside season ticket holders give their seats away to wounded servicemen and women. Hundreds of soldiers line the court, most of which are in uniform, to cheer on the Dallas Mavericks. Everything in the arena is better because of the energy that these soldiers bring, the in-game entertainment, the stories, the inspiration, and the effort on the court. I think having so many courageous heroes watching you play makes you think twice about walking back on defense or not closing out on shooters. The energy and play on the court has always been at its peak during Seats for Soldiers night. When the date is announced and you have the opportunity to go I could not recommend it more!